Social Distortion, 'Social Distortion' (1990)
Long before the modern neo-folk revival made its way to the quaint burgs of Brooklyn and London, these safety-pinned Brit-punk acolytes from southern California realized they had more in common with country's outlaws than a penchant for brown liquors. Social Distortion's third album, and major-label debut, made their devotion to an evolving "cowpunk" scene evident by covering Johnny Cash's classic "Ring of Fire"; but there's a swing on songs like "Ball and Chain" and "Story of My Life" that suggested what Cash could've become if he'd grown up in the L.A. punk scene, power chord-crunching that rockabilly romp. Even frontman Mike Ness' lyrics — "I'm lonely/And I'm tired/And I can't take any more pain" — moaned like a forlorn country lament. M.M.