'Great Expectations' opens the band's incredible second album, The 59 Sound, starting with the crackle of vinyl and what sounds like the beginning of an old Motown classic. It continues by exploding furiously into life with drummer Benny Horowitz pounding brilliantly away and singer Brian Fallon’s soulful voice blaring, "Mary this station is playing every sad song I remember like we were alive". It’s an unbeatable, thrilling start.
The song continues at full speed as we hear how the diner where our hero used to meet his lost love has now been burned down. Then comes the beautiful, evocative lyric: "I learned about the blues from this kitten I knew her hair was raven and her heart was like a tomb, my heart’s like a wound.”. It was written by the hand of a poet.
What happens next is a chorus that changes lives: "And I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my first wife, everybody leaves and I’d expect this much from you." It’s the most addictive thing since Pringles, and requires a million repeats; it never grows stale.
The second verse sees Fallon recount sitting alone in his bedroom rather than going to the party, harbouring 'Great Expectations'. It’s so easy to identify with what he’s saying - it’s as if he stole a look at your diary. Then that brilliant chorus repeats over.
A lot is made of Springsteen comparisons with the band, but truthfully they have as much in common with the Motown greats as The Boss. Like all those 60s songs, this is over in three minutes and packs so much in. Without undue hyperbole, The Gaslight Anthem is the greatest band on the planet.