The Punk Vault

Social Distortion – Mommy’s Little Monster 40th Anniversary Edition LP

Social Disortion’s Mommy’s Little Monster turned 40 years old this year. Originally released back in 1983, the album connected with just about every punk rocker in the United States and many overseas and has continued to do so with the generations that followed. The album packed a lot of punch and was hard edged for the time, yet still retained a great sense of melody with great hooks, catchy choruses, and Mike Ness’ trademark nasally vocal delivery. Nothing sounded like it at the time. It is one of the greatest North American punk rock albums of all time and in fact it has been in my top three favorite punk rock albums of all time ever since I first heard it close to four decades ago. To say this thing has been in heavy rotation in my life is a gross understatement, I still play it all the time and despite all the excellent records the band made after this one, nothing comes close to the perfection that this album is. Everything from the music down to the cover art is flawless and iconic.

To celebrate this milestone birthday, Craft Recordings has just issued this really nice 40th anniversary edition LP. For the first time since the original pressing, they went back to the original analog tapes and remastered the album. This is a really big deal and it shows in the sound quality. They also restored the gatefold sleeve to be like the original pressing (the only other edition of this to have the gatefold sleeve is the Time Bomb Records reissue from 1995). The label design for this one is similar to the label design of the Craft Recordings reissue from 2019, where the Skelly image is printed on a black background with red and white text. The record is pressed on high quality 180gm vinyl.

The sound on this reissue is the best sounding vinyl reissue that this album has ever seen. I did an A-B comparison to the original pressing on 13th Floor Records to see how it measured up. The original pressing was cut very hot, so everything on that version is louder. This 40th anniversary edition isn’t cut as hot and has a more even keeled sound, but it still packs a punch and sounds great and full. Maybe it is because I have almost 40 years of familiarity with it but I have to give the nod to the original pressing still as my favorite sounding version of this record, but this new edition is a close second in terms of sound quality. It really sounds great and if I didn’t have the nearly 40 years of close familiarity with the original, it would be a hard decision of which of the two I like best.

For scientific purposes, I pulled out all the distinct releases of this album over the years and compared them all back to back. The ones I sampled were the original 13th Floor release, the 1989 Triple X Records reissue, the 1995 Time Bomb Records reissue, the 2019 Craft Recordings reissue, and this 40th anniversary reissue on Craft Recordings. I would rank them in order of best to worst sounding as this:

  1. 13th Floor Records original
  2. This 40th Anniversary Edition on Craft Recordings
  3. Time Bomb Records 1995 reissue
  4. Craft Recordings 2019 reissue
  5. Triple X Records 1989 reissue

The artwork on this edition was beautifully restored. The cover art has way more contrast than the original pressing, but I think I actually prefer the sharper look of this over the original. The photographs on the back cover and the inside gatefold were nicely reproduced as well without evidence of being scans off a previously printed cover (thankfully no moire pattern in any of the photos). Restoring the gatefold sleeve with the lyrics and photo collage being inside the gatefold was a nice touch and one fitting of a milestone reissue such as this. The whole package inside and out was really well done. This LP comes on black vinyl, and there were also five different limited edition colored vinyl exclusives, one of which was for indie stores so when this hits them on November 10th,  that edition should be pretty accessible at most good stores.

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As one of the biggest fans of this album, it is so refreshing that a high quality, great sounding reissue of this album has finally been released, doing this iconic album the justice and respect it deserves. If you don’t own this album, you owe it to yourself to buy this release immediately. This hugely influential album is one of the reasons you like punk rock of any generation in the first place! If you’re like me and you already own an original, you’re still going to want this, it sounds that good. If you have only gotten by on one of the more modern reissues before now, you’d be wise to let that one go and replace it with this superior sounding edition, it is more than worth the purchase price.


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