Social Distortion, ‘California (Hustle and Flow)’ – Song Review
Social Distortion, who recently released a new single, 'California (Hustle and Flow),' may not be thought of as a classic-rock band, but they have a number of classic tunes and have been playing rock 'n' roll music for a long time.
That said, their latest song has penetrated the playlists of classic-rock radio stations, and with good reason: It's a guitar-driven, bluesy number that conjures up thoughts of the Rolling Stones.
For 30 years, Social D have been treading the edge of mainstream rock with their brand of punk, blues and rockabilly music, occasionally scoring hits with songs like 'Ball and Chain' and 'Bad Luck.' Throughout many lineup changes, the California-based group's main constant has been über-cool frontman Mike Ness.
'California (Hustle and Flow)' is the second single off Social Distortion's latest studio album, 'Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes,' which dropped earlier this year. The track features a bluesy guitar lick and verses that are similar in tone to the Rolling Stones' 'Brown Sugar.'
Ness, with his twangy rasp, delivers autobiographical lyrics throughout the track: "Well, I was born, babe, with nothing to lose / But the black man taught me how to sing the blues / Made a little life outta rock ‘n’ roll / And that crazy California hustle and flow."
In another verse, Ness references an earlier Social D hit: "I went too fast with that rhythm and booze / Almost ended up dead like all those other fools / Everyone’s got some sort of ball and chain / What’s life without a little pain?"
The song's chorus features female backup singers on the lines, "Take me down / Take me on down the line / Shake me down / Shake me on down the line." Here, there are hints of the Stones' 'Tumblin' Dice.'
Lyrically, the song hits a home run, but musically it's a bit too derivative. If 'Brown Sugar' and 'Tumbling Dice' didn't already exist, 'California (Hustle and Flow)' would be a classic tune. Nonetheless, it's a solid track by a terrific band.
Listen to Social Distortion's 'California (Hustle and Flow)'