I Just Wanna Give You The Creeps: Mommy’s Little Monster at 40


Social Distortion – Mommy’s Little Monster

Released February 1st, 1983 on 13th Floor Records

Produced by Social Distortion with Chaz Ramirez and Thom Wilson


Another State Of Mind

Like so many kids of the era, Mike Ness heard the Sex Pistols and wanted to start a band. The exegesis of Social Distortion’s sound comes from also having heard the Rolling Stones and wanting to start a band. Starting a band in Orange County in the late 1970s was not particularly difficult. There were a lot of like-minded punks in the scene, after all, with bands like the Descendants, the Adolescents, X, and Black Flag getting their start in L.A. at the time as well. The early cast of Social Distortion was a bit of a revolving door, centering around a punk house apartment that Mike Ness kept in Fullerton, on the north end of the O.C. This punk den was infamous, reportedly a swamp of sex, drugs, fights, and drugs. The classic Adolescents track “Kids Of The Black Hole” is about Ness’ apartment, for what it’s worth.

The distractions of youth kept them loose and ragged, but the band – Ness and Co, really – made a name for themselves almost in spite of it. A couple of singles (including “1945“, a song Ness had first written when he was a young adolescent) made the rounds heavily on L.A.’s tastemaker KROQ radio station, and by 1982 there was enough buzz to float a North American tour with the now-legendary Youth Brigade. The tour ended in later 1982 and they recorded Mommy’s Little Monster on Christmas Eve. Afterwards Ness, practically homeless and couch-surfing to keep a roof over his head, fell into a heroin addiction and spent the next five years battling drugs and prison.

The album is, if not exactly a landmark in California punk rock, a solid contender. Mike Ness’ songwriting is better than most of his contemporaries, and the band plays with a professionalism that belies the fact that they hadn’t played together long or knew their instruments well. The album’s one-two punch of “Creeps” and “Another State Of Mind” is enough to carry it through any more generic patches that haunt the latter half of the album. “Telling Them” is classic punk rock anti-authority, and the title track is a bleak look at the scene along the same vein as “Kids Of The Black Hole.” You can clearly hear the album in the 3rd wave of punk bands that would crop up ten years later – Rancid, The Offspring, Green Day, et al. It makes sense; their sound was a little more palatable than many of their friends, putting the pop in punk in a way that only the Buzzcocks managed as seamlessly. On the other side of Ness’ addiction and legal issues, they would ‘go country’, adding a great deal of Johnny Cash and early 70s Stones swagger into their fierce three-chord tunes. Mommy’s Little Monster is the band’s sole O.C. punk record, and it still holds up well against its contemporaries. Are the cowpunk albums better? Probably. But this one has a charm all its own.


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