Social Distortion leader Mike Ness fuses Punk's fury with the sound and style of country and blues; his direct influences seem more the Rolling Stones and Johnny Cash than the Sex Pistols or the Ramones. Ness was only seventeen at the start of Social Distortion's nearly-twenty-year career; his early musical efforts were simple, rebellious anthems that celebrated hard living. In 1982, the group released the successful Mommy's Little Monster LP, which established the group's sound with its ferocious guitar attacks, undaunted backbeats and sincere, telling lyrics. A short jail stint and Ness's subsequent sobriety seemed to fuel him even more, and '90s self-titled LP, recorded for Sony, was a major hit. And Ness's formative influences, especially Cash, snuck back in to the group's sound -- Social Distortion even covered Cash's "Ring of Fire" on that LP. With his latest solo set, Ness has elected to produce a stripped-down record, without the trademark wall of sound. But Ness's intensity is still palpable.