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Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes

January 19, 2014

bruce hh

I was not impressed by the pre-release hype: a collection of covers, remakes and throw-aways from the last ten years.  But it was Bruce so I had to give it a listen.  My first couple of listens did not impress, but I gave it some time to marinate in my ears and then I got it.  Turns out this was a brilliant idea.  The covers are inspired.  The remakes are better than the originals.  And the throw-aways are lost gems.  Bruce found a great rock and roll bromance in Tom Morello.

Every song on the album totally works and despite being a hodgepodge, High Hopes  holds together as an album.  I have been struggling with the last several Bruce albums – they didn’t suck, but they weren’t classics.  And lets face it with a talent like Springsteen we are expecting every release to be a classic.

This album summarizes everything Bruce has been doing for a while now:  E Street rebooted, atmospheric rock, folk rock, and Celtic rock.  The addition of Tom Morello clearly inspires Bruce.  Bruce has always needed a foil and Morello is perfect.  They share liberal working man politics, they appreciate folk and they both now how to rock.  Morello is just young enough to mess with Bruce in a positive way and his foundations in hip hop and modern rock songs undermines Bruce AARP membership.

Whenever a classic rock act like Bruce Springsteen pulls out a late inning masterpiece I am amazed. The titular song summarizes it all – a brilliant merger of classic E Street band jam, Springsteen dirt under the fingernails optimism and Morello’s hip hop rock guitar.  It sets the table for a brilliant album. The songs are political, personal, sentimental, anthems, gritty and rocking – classic Bruce – not bad for an aging rock star in his mid 60s – relevance.

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From → Music Reviews

4 Comments
  1. Never been much of a Springsteen fan (sorry). Like Elvis Costello and the Grateful Dead, I just have to nod and go “Mmm…” whenever friends go on about them. 🙂

    That said, your point about the makeup of the album and how it works overall when you think it shouldn’t reminds me of a fav of mine – R.E.M.’s “Dead Letter Office” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Letter_Office_%28album%29). Maybe because it’s the first R.E.M. album I owned, maybe because the CD comes with their first (brilliant) EP, “Chronic Town” tacked on the end, maybe because of the Peter Buck penned liner notes briefly talking about what the hell they were thinking, maybe because of the drunken cover of Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” – whatever, I love that album, and have listened to it so much it is part of my subconscious.

    So, albums of “covers, remakes and throw-aways” CAN be gems. But it takes real artists to pull them off, not just some second-tier band trying to fulfill a record contract during a dry spell.

    • Agree R.E.M.’s “Dead Letter Office” is classic in the covers, remakes and throw-aways genre. Dylan’s 10 volumes of offical bootlegs is filled with great covers, remakes and throw-aways. Fine strategy if you have the skills to pull it off as you point out.

  2. I have been on a bit of a catch up and binge on Springsteen’s last few albums. I did not know any of the history you revealed. I was familiar with a couple of the cuts. Bruce has a high batting average with CB so i just grab his stuff when it comes out. Never disappointed. I really like the Morello collaboration. The first time i heard Rage do Tom Joad’ I was instantly hooked. I go back to the ‘Wild, the Innocent’ days but I like to see new paths being taken. Great after the fact review for CB. Good work Axl,

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run (Part Three) Plus High Hopes, Magic, Tunnel Of Love and The Ghost Of Tom Joad | Axl's Catch Groove

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