Side One Dummy
You’ve got to wonder what a fairly young band is thinking when it puts out a collection of b-sides so soon after its conception. While nowhere near as pathetic as nubile band releasing a greatest hits set, the art behind a b-sides album is that the songs are either hard to find or they have never been released.
To date, my two favorite b-sides/rarities records are from Pearl Jam (Lost Dogs) and Rancid (B-Sides & C-Sides). I have great memories of hunting down rare and import singles from both bands in the early and mid-’90s in an effort to complete my collection. Pearl Jam literally had dozens of b-sides that were equally as incredible as their widely released music. Songs like “Footsteps,” “Wash” and “Sonic Reducer” were brilliant and worth the hunt. The same with Rancid—every toss off, from the set “Demos From the Pit” to “I Wanna Riot” to “Tattoo,” was gold that needed to be unearthed.
Gaslight Anthem’s B-Sides, while a solid set of music, really sounds like a patchwork record to hold fans over until the next full-length or solo album. These just aren’t b-sides. Half these tunes are acoustic versions of the band’s hits, including “American Slang” and “Great Expectations.” We get another acoustic version of “’59 Sound”–one of my favorite songs, but also a very familiar one that has appeared numerous times.
The rest of the 11 tracks are covers by artists as varied as the Rolling Stones, Fake Problems and Lightening Dust. All competent covers, but nothing to write home about or to warrant repeat listens.
It’s nice to hear Gaslight’s rendition of the Pearl Jam anthem “State of Love and Trust.” Much like their note-for-note perfect cover of Nirvana’s “Sliver” (which is oddly missing from this collection), the band doesn’t do much to modify perfection, instead they simply render a perfect homage to a great song.
For non-completists—those that didn’t invest in the bands collection of 7-inches—B-Sides is an acceptable record worth adding to your collection. It’s slower, less intense and a great showcase of singer Brian Fallon’s acoustic work. For fair-weather fans or those already grumbling that the band is a one-trick pony, this is a definite pass.
Black vinyl (limited to 1,000)
Black and white starburst vinyl (limited to 500)
White vinyl (Banquet Records exclusive limited to 500)