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CD REVIEW: Social Distortion's Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes

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THE DEAL: Formed 32 years ago, Social Distortion releases its seventh studio effort.

THE GOOD: Though the only original member still in the band is Mike Ness, that's about all you need when you've got talent like his. He's not breaking new ground, but continuing on the solid greaser rock path that he established a few decades ago, yet showing a bit more maturity in the process. It's hard to live up to the power of the band's 1990 self-titled album, but Ness tries his best while showcasing a slightly different side of the band. The album kicks off with the band's first-ever instrumental "Road Zombie." "California" has a Black Crowes, classic rock feel to it. Instead of the punk edge, there's a bit more of a blues feel to the new album. Not afraid of tackling a cover song, the band tries its hand at Hank Williams' "Alone and Forsaken" with solid results. "Diamond in the Rough" almost reaches gospel proportions for the chorus. If you're looking for the Social D of old, look no further than "Machine Gun Blues."

THE BAD: Only that the band doesn't visit Charlotte more often. The last time around, a packed house at Amos' Southend showed them plenty of love.

THE VERDICT: The band seems more like a harder-edged Mike Ness solo album than a straightforward Social D album, but that's not to say it's not a great listen. After all, it's Ness that's the driving force in both.

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