Bruce is back after his critically acclaimed 2012 album ‘Wrecking Ball’, but this time he’s taken a different route and released an album made up of previously unreleased material and covers. ‘High Hopes’ features a certain Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine on lead guitar, after Tom replaced Steven Van Zandt on the Australian leg of the Wrecking Ball tour.

Cover songs are often a treat for fans, and when Bruce Springsteen records a cover he means business. He knows exactly how to vamp them up in all the right ways. Opener and album title track ‘High Hopes’ was originally recorded by The Havalinas, and first released by Springsteen on his ‘Blood Brothers EP’ in 1995. This time around he has created a fiery rendition with a gospel driven backing, an excellent build to the chorus accompanied by saxophones that create the life this song was previously lacking in.

An unlikely partnership has worked to Springsteen’s advantage in terms of reworking tracks such as ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’, originally released on the 1994 album of the same name, but also covered by Rage Against the Machine. Morello adds his signature guitar scratch which brings something heavier yet fresh into the mix. Once was a relatively short and plain acoustic track has been transformed into a monster 7 minutes worth of angry rock with an incredibly long guitar solo. This track is the definite highlight amongst the other songs, simply due to the fact it sounds nothing like the original version, even beating the RATM cover with its natural flow and signature anthemic Springsteen style he never fails to deliver.

Another beautifully recorded and previously unreleased song is ‘American Skin (41 Shots)’, written in response to the outrage of the shooting of Amadou Diallo who was killed by plain-clothed officers in New York. Until now a live version had only been released on the album ‘Live in New York City ‘.  The most spine tingling moment is how Springsteen sings the words “American skin” is his husky voice, and the mid-song kick into another of Morello’s fitting guitar solos.

With such a wide variety of songs from other artists joined his reworked tracks, there’s a certain excitement as to what will come next, even though the tracks are so different from one another, it does lack an exact theme. ‘Frankie Fell in Love’ seems to get lost amongst the blend of genres, with this track being far too ‘pop’ to really blend in effectively.  However there’s a genius blend of acoustic, blues, gospel and hard rock from Morello’s influence, ‘High Hopes’ offers something fresh to old fans who will adore anything The Boss produces just to gain a further insight into his back catalogue. New fans are excluded from this release, as there’s nothing quite catchy enough for a younger audience to be part of, but then again at this stage in Springsteen’s career he doesn’t exactly need anyone’s approval.

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