The best distortion that I've used inder $150 is the Boss DS-1. I paid $30 for a new one and sent it to Keeley Electronics to have it modded for $75. The most versatile pedal I have. You could use it in front of a solid state amp, a tube amp clean, crunch, use as a boost as well. I've used it on my recordings in the digital realm as well with great results.
Check out: http://www.myspace.com/testtuberhino
for how it sounds in the recordings.
Interested in hearing what you guys have used.
All the best,