Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Underrated Classic-Mike Ness "Cheating at Solitare"

One of the biggest voices of the SoCal rockabilly-punk movement of the late 80's, Social Distortion's Mike Ness put his claim to fame on hold to pursue one of the most notable solo debuts of the 90's. 1999's Cheating at Solitaire showed Ness at his most vulnerable but also showed support of some heavy hitters on a stripped down more roots-rock inspired album. Leaving the punk basics to Social D, Ness took his signature raspy voice, a voice that sounds like he smoked three packs and downed a bottle of Jack Daniel's before hitting the studio to pour his heart out without his band mates. The cover shows a hard edged man (Ness) clutching his guitar and almost weeping. The cover to me symbolizes a man at his end, but getting this out was just what he needed. Yet, Ness was not alone the album featured cameo's from Bruce Springsteen, Brian Setzer and the Royal Crown Revue, however it also showed one his biggest hits, a cover of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright." The radio friendly anthem got the album attention, but the record only peaked at #81 on the Billboard 200 when it was released in April of '99. This is certainly one of the finest records of the late 90's, if not the decade, and if you have not go and check it out. I promise you will be pleased.