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Stars Pick Their Top 5! This Week: Mike Ness, Social Distortion

Orange County's Social Distortion, led by the inimitable and impossibly charismatic Mike Ness, has never been your run-on-the-mill punk rock band. Even back in the late-'70s basement days and the early '80s Mommy's Little Monster period, before Ness metamorphosed into a glorious combo of Johnny Cash, Eddie Cochran, and Sex Pistols, there was something darkly poetic, and sometimes "sad punk," about the tunes, while all around there was zany nihilism (see The Germs, Weirdos, Screamers). By 2017, Ness is considered one of, if not the most emotional, achingly honest lyricists in the genre, so it's sweet to hear of the five albums that shaped him.

With Jade Jackson, Wednesday, April 5 at 8 p.m., Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress. $40-$140. All Ages.

click to enlarge The Rolling Stones—Hot Rocks
  • The Rolling Stones—Hot Rocks

1. The Rolling Stones—Hot Rocks: I was introduced to the blues via the Stones, and was introduced to this album at age nine. Their writing went beyond 12-bar repetition, and entered me into a vast world of songwriting, which became part of the foundation for Social Distortion's sound.

click to enlarge David Bowie—The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars
  • David Bowie—The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars

2. David Bowie—The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars: I was introduced to this album at age 12; the rock 'n' roll glitter fantasy guitars sounded so big, and I loved the look.

click to enlarge Kiss—Dressed to Kill
  • Kiss—Dressed to Kill

3. Kiss—Dressed to Kill: These guys were still underground when I was turned on to them. I dressed up as Gene Simmons for Halloween in eighth grade and got a lot of grief from all the other kids at school.  

click to enlarge Sex Pistols—Never Mind the Bollocks
  • Sex Pistols—Never Mind the Bollocks

4. Sex Pistols—Never Mind the Bollocks: Sex Pistols had the best guitar sound yet. I had been waiting for this because they sounded like how I felt inside—angry. This album, along with Ramones' first album, had more buzzsaw guitars. They brought fun back to rock 'n' roll, out of the stadiums and back into the clubs.

click to enlarge Hank Williams—40 Greatest Hits
  • Hank Williams—40 Greatest Hits

5. Hank Williams—40 Greatest Hits: This album came into my life at age 23 and sounded like I felt inside—sad and forsaken. Each of these records provided much more than entertainment — they shaped and molded me early on. They were my survival tools. I listened to them endlessly, over and over and over again until every detail and nuance was engrained in me.


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