“I’m Your Man” – The Hangmen


Talk about f–kin’ solid! Here’s a gem I recently heard on Sirius Underground Garage by a band that’s been kicking around since the late 1980s. Originally from L.A., the Hangmen sound like Johnny Thunders fronting Social Distortion. Speaking of which, Mike Ness of Social D. produced one of the Hangmen’s EPs in 2007. From the album “East of Western.”

“Backstreet Girl” – Social Distortion


Pre-major label Social D. covers one of the Rolling Stones’ most beautiful and most troubling songs.

The original is a lovely-sounding acoustic ballad, where the protagonist is a rich guy who tells his mistress in no uncertain terms what her place is in his life. As I said earlier about the Stones’ original, “Jagger and the gang could be doing an ironic Randy Newman-esque take on a sleazy, phliandering rich guy, which I would buy … except for the fact that I’m sure that the attitude of the song’s narrator is not far from the way they probably felt about women back in the day. A great song with contradictory and often troubling messages? Hmm … sounds like the Stones to me in a nutshell.”

Social D. says “Ah, bulls–t!” to such nonsense and just bashes through the song as Social D. is wont to do. I can’t say that they’re wrong in their approach.

“Ball and Chain” – Social Distortion


Arguably, Social Distortion’s best-known and most beloved song. I remember hearing it on a Walkman when I was walking to work one morning during the summer of 1990 and knew this song was an immediate classic. Mike Ness’s love for Johnny Cash is obvious here.

However, when I returned to college in the fall, I was chagrined to see how popular this song was for the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong. I was glad to see Social Distortion (one of the standout bands of the 1980s California hardcore punk scene) getting some hard-fought mainstream success and love from the masses. However, this harrowing song about addiction somehow got adopted as a drinking song for preppie frat boy idiots. Probably the same dolts that thought Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” was a patriotic song (except Bruce would have had to have known that simply having an anthemic song called “Born in the USA” with an album cover that has the American flag in the background during the height of Reganism would have picked up a lot of buyers who weren’t really listening to the lyrics … but I digress). Anyway, despite the bad taste of seeing jock dickheads, who would have beat the snot out of Mike Ness if they saw him on the street, singing his very personal song, this song is still a classic and still has power.