Sex, Love, and RockĎníRoll is an album about Love, Hope, becoming a better, more pure person, and a challenge issued to do so. Instead of continuing this idea, some analysis of the tracks and additional comments on the album are required.
Reach For The Sky: 5/5
This is the song that really turned me on to Social D. The driving guitar riff coupled with pounding drums helped to create a frantic and desperate energy that prevails through out the song. Normally, this would be fine, but due to the musical genius of Mike Ness, the lyrics head in a completely different direction. He admits the world is out to get you, but there are things, people, emotions, that are worth holding on to and fighting for. I am amazed at the bands ability to keep a positive vibe with the offer of hope through the frantic nature of Reach For The Sky. Seize the Day. (This is also an excellent track to work out to)
Highway 101: 4/5
This is the perfect follow up to Reach For The Sky. The guitars and drums are both driving in the stereotypical Southern Californian personality, but the lyrics head in a different direction. The song is about moving on from a broken relationship between the sick boy and a sick girl, where the boy has moved on and learned the error of his ways. Although running away is probably not the right course of action, the spirit of the song is something that builds it up and makes it memorable.
Donít Take Me For Granted: 5/5
The theme of love and pain continues with this song. Mike Ness offers us his 43 years of knowledge on the subject. By using inanimate objects as metaphors for love, and the feelings we have in those times we would want to live again or wish would never have happened the most accurate picture of what love is comes through this song. The backgrounds are typical of the Album in the Social D way, and the background lyrics help it flow. This is a masterpiece, but sadly I do not believe it will become the standby it deserves to be.
Footprints On My Ceiling: 4.5/5
For those of us who have ever been in love but never acted on it (all of us at some point or other), this is what Mike Ness is singing about. He continues with the theme of the album lyrically and music fits perfectly. Repetition in the solo adds to the feeling that keeping your emotions hidden is harmful to yourself which is especially affective with the almost churchlike sustained chords.
Nickels And Dimes: 3.5/5
This is the low point of the album, only because it doesnít follow the theme of love and that a better life is out there if weíre willing to work for it. The song is full of energy and speaks to our self who wants to under achieve and just have fun in life. Mike Ness continues to use metaphors to describe feelings to a good effect. This song would have been better to start with if there were a story for the album to follow, but do to itís construction the middle suits it nicely.
I Wasnít Born To Follow: 4/5
The almost siren like manner of the song and the familiar beat create something almost epic, but falls into the ideal realm of punk. This song was nicely placed behind a song about staying down, and it is a call for todayís youth to take up the vitality Mike Ness seems to never run out of and make something of ourselves.
Winners And Losers: 5/5
This entire song focuses around the idea that for every good thing has an ďevil" counterpart. Mike Ness continues his challenge to the younger generations by telling speaking of the duality of life and asking them which way they will take. Even though this is a darker song, Mike Ness can keep a positive vibe with hope at the end through the entire song. I largely over looked the music for this song, but it has the folk-ish feel of Mike Nessís solo career and the traditional feel of the Album. This makes for a mellower, more thoughtful song, especially after following Nickels And Dimes and I Wasnít Born To Follow. The lyrics alone however give it the perfect score.
Social Distortion returns to the advice giving by offering an example of what life can be like when one gives in or gives up. Taking control of your own path and finding the one who has done this for themselves will bring you back to the core of the album: Love. Musically this track is similar to the rest of the album which is a very good thing, especially with that faint solo career aspect to it. The use of cymbals is top notch in this song in that they are simplistic and driving, yet submissive and secondary.
Live Before You Die: 4/5
This song is another reminder that Social Distortion is still a punk rock band with a pure and wholesome message to give the world. High energy with an upbeat vibe which is needed for the emotional rollercoaster they will send the listener through with
Angelís Wings: 5/5
This is the best song on the album with no competition whatsoever. The truthful and heart felt lyrics carried by the near snarl of Mr. Ness are perfect. PERFECT. This song is so tough and driving, but regarding such a sensitive subject it transcends what it means to write/listen to a great song. Its epic quality isnít just carried by the lyric which tell a story truer to my heart than anything I could have ever written, but the distortion alone is enough to make the toughest of hearts weep, and then the familiarity of the album joins the tone that has already been set, giving the lyrics such great support that they are elevated to a level beyond that of what they already are.
Long heartfelt songs which bring the listener up and challenge them to improve. It will get you through the hard times and make the good times even better.
Whatís Not Good:
There are only 10 of them.
This album deserves a perfect score because of the transcendent post-modern nature of the album. Quite simply the moral is ďBe yourself and stay true to yourself even though bad things will happen, hope and love will find you, or you will find them." You can be religious and a punk. You can feel romantic love. Love isnít just limited to romance however. Punk can be mature. Whatís bad isnít always as it seems. Iím done. My words donít do the life experiences and wisdom of Mike Ness justice. Own this album, and treasure it.