Though we’ll have to wait until 2012 for the next Gaslight Anthem full length (the band’s first release on a major label, no less), they’ve helped ease the wait with something (sort of) new. The boys from New Jersey have released an iTunes Session – an EP, comprised of covers and alternative versions. It’s their SideOneDummy swansong, but is it as sweet as it sounds?
Usually something like this would come down to if you liked covers or not. Personally I like to hear my favourite bands’ take on other people’s work, but that really didn’t matter here. Each track has that distinct Gaslight Anthem sound that means if you haven’t heard the original version of a particular song, you can listen to it without feeling like you’re missing something. In fact, it might be better if you haven’t heard these songs before. I doubt there’s many out there who’ve yet to experience ‘Baba O’Reilly’, but you never know.
All in all the covers are great. Hearing Brian and co take on stuff from Pearl Jam, The Who and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers was interesting. They’ve made these classic songs their own but, at the same time, done them incredible justice. At the very least, it shows the kinds of artist that have made The Gaslight Anthem the band they are today. Tom Petty in particular stands out as a big influence on Brian Fallon’s vocal style, so it was really cool to hear him covering ‘Refugee’. Not only that, but they might just turn a few people onto a band they might have otherwise dismissed. You never know.
Alongside these covers are two from the band’s back catalog. The version of ‘Navesink Banks’ is relatively unchanged from it’s initial release, but ‘Boxer’ feels like a completely different song on here. It’s more sombre than the version found on American Slang, and that alone has a massive impact especially when it comes to the lyrics. The original feels like the story of a triumphant prize fighter, whereas this version seems to come from someone a little more down on their luck.
Despite how well these covers and alternative versions panned out, I feel the majority of Gaslight fans will be coming to this EP for one thing in particular. Previously unreleased track, ‘Our Father’s Sons’ follows that familiar Springsteen-esque formula that Gaslight have become known for and won’t disappoint those who’ve been waiting to hear a proper version instead of that demo that’s been circulating the internet for some time.
Though it’s not necessarily what Gaslight fans would have wanted this year, what’s here is great. The boys are on top form and, if anything, it’s interesting to see the kind of artists that have inspired one of today’s biggest bands.