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Mike Ness

Under The Influences – 1999 (Time Bomb Recordings)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by Mike Ness

If Alan Jackson and LeAnn Rimes deliver almost exactly the album one would expect on their covers albums, the same can not be said for Mike Ness. In large part that's because no one would know what to expect from a "country" album by the leader of punk band Social Distortion. Just from looking at the song selection, it's obvious that Ness listens to more country music than Jackson or at least listens to a greater variety of it. The choices are the nice mix of hits and obscurities that one hopes for in this kind of album. Even the Hank Williams tunes are among his least known.

In terms of pure vocal ability, Jackson and Rimes are in the Major Leagues and Ness is in the low minors. But there are plenty of people who find minor league baseball more fun than the big time, and for similar reasons many people will consider this album the most enjoyable of these three. Listening to Ness' disc after listening to Jackson's and Rimes' is like getting a shot of adrenaline. The album is brimming with the kind of raw energy that made early rock 'n' roll and classic country so exciting. Nashville has sold its soul in the quest for "perfect" records, and this contrast drives that point home emphatically.