“Turn the record over,” instructs The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon on ‘45’, the lead single from their 2012 major label debut, ‘Handwritten’. “I’ll see you on the flipside.”
That’s exactly what former SideOneDummy – the LA label that issued ‘The ’59 Sound’ and ‘American Slang’, The Gaslight Anthem’s second and third albums – has done with this release, which collates 11 B-sides, rare songs and session tracks recorded by the band between 2008 and 2011.
Essentially, this is a cheaper, condensed version of last year’s ‘Singles Collection’, a deluxe wooden box set that housed nine 7” singles and which contained all the singles from those two albums, in addition to the songs found here. Comprising five covers, five acoustic songs and one studio original, this set begins with the latter track – a song called ‘She Loves You’, full of aching, lilting melancholy that was written for, but inexplicably left off, ‘American Slang’.
It sets the tone perfectly for what follows, including the stripped-down acoustic versions of their own songs – ‘The ’59 Sound’, ‘American Slang’ and ‘Great Expectations’ are tender, raw and vulnerable, and full of the heartfelt passion that’s always driven this New Jersey band’s songs.
Similarly, the covers of Fake Problems’ ‘Songs For Teenagers’, The Rolling Stones’ ‘Tumbling Dice’ (below), Lightning Dust’s ‘Antonia Jane’ and the gorgeous ‘Once Upon A Time’ by Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise are bruised and wounded shots through the heart, each one helping to demonstrate that Gaslight’s influences extend beyond the Bruce Springsteen comparisons that are always lumped and dumped upon them.
Really, it’s just ‘State Of Love And Trust’ – a slightly annoying, bombastic live cover of the slightly annoying, bombastic Pearl Jam song – that lets this compilation down, not least because it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the songs here.
Still, all you have to do is turn that record over – or at least press the skip button – for a near-perfect demonstration of this band’s fragile, heart-breaking power.
Words: Mischa Pearlman
- - -
- - -
Listen to ‘The B-Sides’ in full via Deezer, below…