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White Light, White Heat, White Trash is the fifth album by American punk rock band, Social Distortion, released on September 17, 1996 by Epic Records. The album was produced by Michael Beinhorn. White Light, White Heat, White Trash is the last Social Distortion album to feature guitarist Dennis Danell who died on February 29, 2000 of a brain aneurysm at the age of 38. It is also the band's last release on Epic Records. The album got Social Distortion's highest ever chart position, debuting at #27 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Stylistically, the album is harder and considered a return to their punk roots.

The title of the album is a play on the Velvet Underground album, White Light/White Heat (1968). The Velvet Underground record is known for being one of the most original, and likely the heaviest, records of the time, just as White Light, White Heat, White Trash for Social Distortion has a harder sound than those albums preceding it.

Music and lyrics

Stylistically, WLWHWT signifies a shift back to their hardcore and punk roots for Social Distortion . When this album was released, Social Distortion had been playing for 15 years. Throughout that time, the music went from a hardcore Ramones-sounding punk to a more melodic Elvis/Johnny Cash rockabilly punk sound. With this album, Social D came back full circle back to a harder sound which some consider their strongest album thus far. It was named #41 on Kerrang!'s 50 Greatest Punk Albums Ever . Some old-school fans were upset when the first single, "I Was Wrong", became widely played on the radio as record sales equals selling out to some of the elitists; however, Social Distortion is something of a legend in the punk genre and continues to receive respect and support from the community.

The lyrics on this album are as socially-conscious as the most of their previous albums with "Don't Drag Me Down" and "Down Here (w/the Rest Of Us)". There are also reflective songs such as "I Was Wrong", "Crown of Thorns" and "Pleasure Seeker". There are a couple of more personal songs for Ness on the album like "Dear Lover" and "When The Angels Sing" which is said to be a tribute to Ness's grandmother.

Cover and liner art

The cover of White Light, White Heat, White Trash features a photograph of a ventriloquist dummy/puppet taken by Leonard Myazinaki. On the back cover is another photograph by Myazinaki of religious statues. The inner liner is covered with small icons of religious and Americana nature, illustrating the album's fusion of faith and punk rock with a 50s influence. The iconography includes dice, a 50s-style automobile in front of a motel, a pin-up girl with angel wings and a halo, a burning cross and a Sacred Heart.

Track listing

All songs written by Mike Ness unless otherwise noted.

  1. "Dear Lover" – 4:43
  2. "Don't Drag Me Down" – 3:51
  3. "Untitled" – 4:45
  4. "I Was Wrong" – 3:58
  5. "Through These Eyes" – 3:15
  6. "Down on the World Again" – 3:22
  7. "When the Angels Sing" – 4:15
  8. "Gotta Know the Rules" – 3:28
  9. "Crown of Thorns" – 4:15
  10. "Pleasure Seeker" – 3:33
  11. "Down Here (With the Rest of Us)" – 4:19
  12. "Under My Thumb" (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards) – 2:49 *

'*' indicates a hidden track.


  • Mike Ness – Vocals, Guitars, Art Direction, Mixing
  • Dennis Danell – Guitars
  • John Maurer – Bass
  • Deen Castronovo – Drums (uncredited session drummer)
  • Chuck Biscuits – Drums (credited as band member at the time of release, did not play on the album)
  • Michael Beinhorn – Producer
  • Kalynn Campbell – Illustrations
  • Jolie Clemens – Art Direction
  • Giulio Costanzo – Art Direction
  • George Marino – Mastering
  • John Travis – Engineer, Mixing

Chart and singles history

Album chart positions

All chart positions from Billboard magazine (North America).

Year Album Chart Chart positions
1996 White Light, White Heat, White Trash Billboard 200 #27

Singles chart positions

All chart positions from Billboard magazine (North America).
Year Title Chart Chart Positions
1996 "I Was Wrong" Modern Rock Tracks #4
1996 "I Was Wrong" Mainstream Rock Tracks #12
1997 "When The Angels Sing" Modern Rock Tracks #33
1997 "When The Angels Sing" Mainstream Rock Tracks #32

Singles information

Singles information gathered from

Single cover Single information Music video
"I Was Wrong"
  • Released: 1996
"When the Angels Sing"
  • Released: 1997


  • Anime comic, Bleach, creator Tite Kubo assigned several characters theme songs which are used to give insight to characters that might not normally appear in the run of the manga or anime. In Isshin Kurosaki's case, the song is "Don't Drag Me Down", by Social Distortion.


The information regarding accolades attributed to White Light, White Heat, White Trash is adapted from
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Blender USAmarker 500 CDs You Must Own Before You Die 2003 *
Rock Hard Germanymarker Top 300 Albums 2001 123
Rolling Stone Germanymarker The 500 Best Albums of All Time 2004 170
Visions Germanymarker The Most Important Albums of the 90s 1999 31

(*) designates unordered lists.


  1. "'A PHENOMENON'" January 18, 2006. Retrieved on February 27, 2007.
  2. "New distortion from Social Distortion". September 27, 1996. Retrieved on February 25, 2007.
  3. "The Kerrang! 50 Greatest Punk Albums Ever". Retrieved on February 25, 2007.
  4. "Review: White Light, White Heat, White Trash". December 17, 2002. Retrieved on February 25, 2007.
  5. "Discography: White Light, White Heat, White Trash". Retrieved on February 25, 2007.
  6. "Social Distortion: Singles". Retrieved on February 25, 2007.
  7. "Social Distortion: Videos" Retrieved on February 25, 2007.
  8. "Social Distortion: Discography" Retrieved on February 25, 2007.

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