If you are a fan of any of the Gaslight Anthem's later work, you need to get this record. I got into them just after Handwritten had come out, but starting by listening to Great Expectations and The '59 Sound, and then snapped this up because when I love an artist (and I swiftly fell for Gaslight) I want to have their whole collection. This album is great, and includes arguably my favourite Gaslight Anthem song.
The sound is - as debut albums often are - more raw and less polished than their later albums, but it contains some characteristically superb lyrics and the edge that comes from it being their first release makes it exciting to listen to.
For many people 1930 is the classic, and that was the only song from this record that they played when I saw them earlier this year, but my favourite is the opener, Boomboxes and Dictionaries, which has truly spectacular lyrics, full of depth and soul, and growled over the top of simple but driving guitar. But there are other highlights, too, including the stripped back 'The Navesink Banks'.
There are echoes of Springsteen in the lyrics, but for me the Gaslight Anthem don't really sound like the Boss. And whilst plenty of people will say they aren't breaking any new ground, that's never been that important to me. What is important is that they feel like a proper band, writing great songs and singing great words. If you're thinking of getting into the band, you could do worse than start here, although I'd probably recommend getting The '59 Sound first.