Sound — 9
With their fourth album, Social Distortion finally struck the perfect note between the aggression of hardcore punk and anguish of classic country and rockabilly. Key tracks Bad Luck and Born to Lose are prime examples of this balance, with punk-like song structures but with an overall country feel, taken to a new level by the distinct howl of singer/guitarist Mike Nes. The album also has it's share of straight-ahead rockers in Cold Feelings and When She Begins, as well as stripped down, slowed down country numbers such as This Time Darlin' and the haunting 99 To Life. Overall if I were to describe the sound of this album as a whole, I would call it punk that's been slowed down while still retaining it's spirit, thrown in the ol' country deep fryer for a while, and then wrapped up with a slick, radio ready production.
Lyrics — 8
Mike Ness, to me, has always had one of the most distinct voices in punk rock. His voice is equal parts Joey Ramone and Johnny Cash, and this album allows both sides of it to shine through more than any album they've done before or since. His voice alone manages to give the more punk-inspired songs a hint of country and the country-inspired songs a hint of punk. Lyrically Mike Ness once again saddles up as the downtrodden underdog reminiscent of Johnny Cash, and he plays the role to a tee. Bad Luck, Born to Lose, and When She Begins seem to stand out as prime examples, in which Ness sets the stage as an individual stuck on a rough path through life, but will be damned if he doesn't make the most of it.
Overall Impression — 9
This is my favorite album by Social D, and one of my favorites all together. Looking back at their career, it somewhat seems like the overriding (and probably subconscious) goal of the band was to succeed in the unlikely and challenging combination of punk and country music. With Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell they just hit it perfectly. There are enough elements from both hemispheres for this album to be appreciated by punk fans as well as country and rockabilly fans.