Vinyl Review: Mike Ness – Cheating at Solitaire & Under the Influences

On April 6th, 2018 Craft Record re-released Mike Ness’  Cheating at Solitaire and Under the Influences.  Both albums were originally released in 1999 (April and November respectively).  Cheating at Solitaire was Mike’s debut solo effort and featured performances by heavyweights Bruce Springsteen and Brian Setzer.  The album peaked at #80 on The Billboards 200 in May of 1999.   Cheating at Solitaire featured many things that might have seemed out of place for a Mike Ness recording in 1999 like the use of a pedal steel or Hammond organ.  Social Distortion’s most recent album was White Light, White Heat, White Trash which was an aggressive, straight ahead album for the band.  Mike’s solo album transitions nicely into 2004’s Sex, Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll.  There is a sense of a 30-something Mike Ness reminiscing about the music of his youth and developing a maturer sound. 

Under the Influences was a collection of songs that influenced Mike long before punk music.  The collection of songs includes covers of such greats at Carl Perkins, Hank Williams, A.P. Carter, Sonny Curtis and many of the greats of American country, rock and roots music.  In these tracks you can hear what came to be the inspiration for Ness’s vocal themes in Social Distortion over the years. It’s really interesting to listen to these tracks like “Big Iron” or “Six More Miles” and then listen to a song like “Bakersfield” from Social Distortion’s most recent study album.  “I have a great affection for roots music. Old blues, country, folk, rockabilly and primitive rock and roll in general.” Says Ness, “Without these roots, I wouldn’t have perspective. I love the music and feel it is as relevant as ’70s glitter and early punk. As a solo artist, I am able to cross the boundaries and integrate it all. I tried to bring these influences together and keep it honest.”

The albums are available as standard vinyl, and also on limited-edition red vinyl (500 pieces), available exclusively via the Official Mike Ness Store

Track Listing
A1: All I Can Do Is Cry (Wayne Walker)
A2: Gamblin’ Man (Marvin Rainwater)
A3: Let The Jukebox Keep On Playing (Carl Perkins)
A4: I Fought The Law (Sonny Curtis)
A5: Big Iron (Marty Robbins)
A6: One More Time (Harlan Howard)
A7: Six More Miles (Hank Williams)
B1: A Thief In The Night (Harlan Howard)
B2: Once A Day (Whisperin’ Bill Anderson)
B3: Funnel Of Love (Charlie McCoy/Kent Westbury)
B4: House Of Gold (Hank Williams)
B5: Wildwood Flower (AP Carter)
B6: Ball and Chain (Honky Tonk) (Mike Ness)

A1: The Devil In Miss Jones
A2: Don’t Think Twice (Bob Dylan cover)
A3: Misery Loves Company (with. Bruce Springsteen)
A4: Crimes Don’t Pay (with Brian Setzer)
B1: Rest Of Our Lives
B2: You Win Again (Hank Williams cover)
B3: Cheating At Solitaire
B4: No Man’s Friend
C1: Charmed Life
C2: Dope Fiend Blues (with Billy Zoom)
C3: Ballad Of A Lonely Man
C4: I’m In Love With My Car
D1: If You Leave Before Me
D2: Long Black Veil (Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin cover)
D3: Send Her Back (Al Ferrier cover)
D4: Company C