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The Gaslight Anthem - The B-Sides (Cover Artwork)

The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem: The B-SidesThe B-Sides (2014)
SideOneDummy

Reviewer Rating: 2
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Contributed by: thepopeofchili-townthepopeofchili-town
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On paper, a Gaslight Anthem b-sides collection is a great idea. In less than a decade of existence, the group have amassed a wealth of fantastic non-album material, from their unique takes on material like Bob Dylan's "Changing of the Guards" and Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" to blisterin.
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On paper, a Gaslight Anthem b-sides collection is a great idea. In less than a decade of existence, the group have amassed a wealth of fantastic non-album material, from their unique takes on material like Bob Dylan's "Changing of the Guards" and Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" to blistering originals like "Blue Dahlia" and "Our Father's Sons." Sadly, none of that is included on The B-Sides, an unfortunately phoned in collection that is neither comprehensive, nor cohesive.

Before diverging into a tangent what The B-Sides could have been, let's talk about what it is. It bears mention that the material actually present on The B-Sides is phenomenal. Very little of the criticism leveled at The Gaslight Anthem over the years has anything to do with their music. All of the tracks collected here are great -- "She Loves You" stands shoulder to shoulder with "Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts" and "We Did it When We Were Young" as one of their best ballads. Their take on The Rolling Stones' "Tumblin' Dice" (actually released as an A-side single, but that's neither here nor there) manages to be faithful to the original while putting the Gaslight stamp on it as well. It's the thrown together and incomplete nature of The B-Sides that is so infuriating, not the music itself.

The sequencing of The B-Sides makes no sense either. The aforementioned "She Loves You" opens the collection, and while it is indeed a fantastic song, nothing about the slow, contemplative love song screams "record opener." Throughout the duration of the record, live tracks, studio tracks, full-band numbers and acoustic solo recordings are interspersed in a way that interrupts any logical flow or cohesion and makes it impossible for The B-sides to feel like a real "album."

It's hard to tell who is at fault for the slapdash nature of The B-Sides, the band themselves or SideOneDummy. All of the material presented was recorded during their tenure on the label. The group's new home, Mercury Records also recently released a half-hearted Gaslight Anthem product, the Live in London DVD. Shot across two nights, the final product only contains ten songs, the majority of which come from Handwritten. It's hard to gauge a consensus on what the best Gaslight Anthem album is, as they are all outstanding, but most fans of the band can agree, it's probably not Handwritten. Someone is trying to cash in.

The B-Sides is sadly, the first record bearing the name The Gaslight Anthem that is a non-essential purchase. It's unclear who the target audience for this record really is, as any fan die-hard enough to seek out the band's castoffs has heard all of these songs before, and new fans of the band would do much better to seek out one of their proper records. In a year that will see an actual new Gaslight Anthem album, as well as Brian Fallon's new side project Molly & the Zombies, The B-Sides can be easily skipped.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
juliench (February 8, 2014)

I never understood why people love Sink or Swim so much, a few songs are really good but a lot of songs are very forgettable. That said, I Think 59 sound is their best.

publichousingv2 (February 8, 2014)

"American Slang is their best, objectively speaking at least."

I like AS a lot, but what about it makes it their best record? The songs aren't as well-written as those one their previous records, the production is pretty standard, and Alex's guitar work is pretty generic in comparison to what he was doing on SOS and T59S.

That said, I listen to it fairly often. Hooks.

EchosMyron (February 7, 2014)

Terrible band.

Blackjaw_ (February 7, 2014)

" handwritten > american slang"

That is nuts! American Slang is their best, objectively speaking at least. I have such a strong connection to their first two albums as well that I couldn't possibly rank the three subjectively. Handwritten is pretty crappy though.

telegraphrocks (February 7, 2014)

Like you said, all the songs contained here are pretty good.
But this just seems like a cash-grab from SideOneDummy, a once great label that has abandoned any sort of their punk roster in exchange for hipster shit and country-esque snooze-fests.
To me, SOD has sunk to the same level as Hopeless.

eran_zombis (February 7, 2014)

"the only thing i disagree with is the consensus on handwritten not being their best, i'd say the consensus would be on handwritten not being their best, personally."

Any clarification you can provide would be helpful. I think most people on the org generally agree that:

Sink or Swim, 59 Sound, Senor & the Queen > Handwritten, American Slang

but that the specific rankings vary by person and tastes.

BarleyPat (February 7, 2014)

Agreed completely. I love Gaslight, but this album doesn't hold my interest at all and the sequencing is terrible, as you mentioned. I do really like their cover of Tumblin' Dice, but it's mostly a very lackluster release that I don't intend to buy unless I come across a used copy for cheap or something. Better luck next time.

exitenglish1208 (February 7, 2014)

i think this review pretty much nails it. i like the songs on here, but the best b-sides aren't on here (halloween and blue dahlia), and already have the ones that are.

the only thing i disagree with is the consensus on handwritten not being their best, i'd say the consensus would be on handwritten not being their best, personally. I felt like people generally agreed that handwritten > american slang, but i could be wrong.

homeiswherethevanis (February 6, 2014)

Seems like a label without a big artist or release trying to cannibalize on TGA's vinyl crazed fan base.

skankaholikk (February 6, 2014)

I don't really understand this release, either. I'm a long-time fan. I hated when they released live radio recordings on the old seven-inches, let alone on this guy. Seems like a "one more record on the contract" deal with Side One Dummy. We've heard these songs before.

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