Expectations are rarely that great for a b-sides album, however that is exactly what I listened to this week. By definition the b-side is supposedly inferior to the a-side. Back in the day of vinyl singles the hit would be on the a-side and, well, since we went through all the trouble to press this fucking record we might as well put some shit on the other side.
There are actually a lot of great b-sides (I Will Survive, The Sweetest Thing, Suffragette City) however The Gaslight Anthem’s effort isn’t really what I expect a b-sides album. It contains many acoustic versions of successful songs, and while these may well have been released along side singles I don’t really find the spirit to be the same. Most b-side album compilations are not that captivating because even when a b-side is great it is uncommon. Few bands could package together a truly great compilation of their filler material. The Beatles are really the only one that comes to my mind (Day Tripper, I Am the Walrus, Come Together and Strawberry Fields Forever are all b-sides). Can you believe that Eleanor Rigby was the b-side to Yellow Submarine? Yellow Submarine is the metaphorical b-side to actual songwriting for crying out loud!
In conclusion the Gaslight Anthem’s B-Sides album is not one I will come back to, although I was particularly fond of the album’s version of Great Expectations. Here is the closest approximation I could find on you tube.
Now let’s talk. Today is ‘Bell Canada Suddenly Has A Fucking Conscience Day’ otherwise known as #bellletstalk. I went most of the day without voicing my cynicism beyond a few close friends, and yet by the end of the day I was still criticized for my lack of support for what could at best be described as cause marketing, and at worst blatant exploitation of a real problem.
Oh but awareness is raised?!!! The kind of awareness raised by this campaign is the same kind of awareness we have when someone like Paul Walker dies. Everyone cares for anywhere between 20 seconds and a few hours. We all pat ourselves on the back for being such great people (for tweeting or sending a text message) and then no one cares two days later when I have an anxiety attack and can’t leave my closet.
And since you didn’t ask – Bell pledged the initial donations of the Let’s Talk campaign as part of it’s bid to get approval from the CRTC to merge with Astral Media. They also benefit from considerable (almost 30 percent) tax breaks because of this (and that is money that is taken away from our public programs) and let’s not forget that they are just plain assholes. These are the same people who ‘mistakenly’ bill you twice and then send a collection agency after you for 20 dollars you never owed. They have done more to cause my anxiety than they ever will to relieve it.
I’m not saying don’t tweet this charity commercial, and that is why I waited until the end of the day to post this, please continue to make this company pay more nickels for mental health awareness! (still, it’s kind of odd that this day is in January when Canadian Mental Health Awareness week is in October isn’t it??) – but take the time to consider how much money they are really donating and how much of it is tax breaks and directed cause marketing that was budgeted in advance before you start crediting Bell with being a socially conscious company. (give this blog post from 2013 by Peter Nowak a read!)
Personally I’ll simply raise awareness through a series of high anxiety episodes I like to call ‘every day life’.