My review of the new Bruce Springsteen & Tom Morello album “High Hopes”
I wanted to make this review when I hold the CD in my hand, but Bruce Springsteen & Co decided to make full album “stream” available. Maybe because the album leaked way too early?
I have already used the album cover too many times, so let’s use this picture instead:
1. High Hopes
Is there a Bruce fan that doesn’t know this tracks previously? For some reason Bruce decided to re-record this cover track, and also use it as the album title. This new version is filled with samples and Tom Morello’s guitar effects. Hard to say which one is better, the new or the old version. There’s room for both, but starting the new album with a cover song is not a good idea.
2. Harry’s Place featuring Tom Morello
This is where it gets interesting. Bruce sounds almost like Chris Rea on this track. Human Touch/Lucky town era meets ZZ Top from the 80’s (although I’d prefer Billy Gibbons guitar playing over Morello’s). Then there’s Clarence Clemon’s sax solo mixed in. They clearly fixed the vocal part in 2:40. They had no idea how to end this song. Tom added some heavy guitar shredding instead.
3. American Skin (41 Shots) featuring Tom Morello
The Boss really loves the cheap radio vocal effects. This is a song that builds up. Once again they just can’t stop playing. There’s just too much stuff filled in, and the song is about 3 minutes too long. Old material meets new, and it just doesn’t sound right. First two tracks had much fuller sound, and this new version just doesn’t fit in, and sadly rest of the album follows the same route.
4. Just Like Fire Would (Chris J. Bailey) featuring Tom Morello
This was clearly meant to be a bonus track on the Wrecking Ball “Australian Tour” edition. Totally forgettable cover version. Another song that is about minute too long.
5. Down In The Hole
I’m On Fire anyone? Start of the song reminds me of the countin’ on a miracle (acoustic version). Filled with samples, loops, and stuff. I’m sure there is a good song hiding there somewhere. I just can’t hear it.
6. Heaven’s Wall featuring Tom Morello
Gospel track that is way too long. Tom Morello goes crazy with his effect arsenal, and Ron Aniello has no backbone to tell them to stop this madness. At the end this is a totally different track.
7. Frankie Fell In Love
This is an outtake from the Tracks box (Bruce doesn’t record under 3 minute tracks these days). There’s a great song buried under all that noise. I wonder how this sounded back in the 70’s with just the core E Street Band members. There’s something like 30 members today (and half of them play guitar).
8. This Is Your Sword
Bruce goes Irish autopilot mode. This was meant to be over 3 minute track, but the Morello mix got lost in an Irish pub.
9. Hunter Of Invisible Game featuring Tom Morello
Bruce goes Bob Dylan. You can barely hear the lyrics. Another minute long outro with no reason.
10. The Ghost of Tom Joad duet with Tom Morello
Where’s the powerful singing by Bruce, suddenly winner of the Bruce Springsteen imitation contest starts singing…Oh, wait…It’s Tom again. Whole song lacks the power that the live rendition has. BTW What’s with the vocal part in 1:16? I don’t have the liner notes, but I’m pretty sure that is an old arcade game that kicks in at the 6:06 mark. When this ends…
11. The Wall
Finally a song that has room to breath. Great lyrics. Long fade out. Surely could have saved this to an acoustic album.
12. Dream Baby Dream (Martin Rev and Alan Vega) – featuring Tom Morello
Dream Baby Dream repeated about 382 times, and then the song and the album ends.
High Hopes album is recorded in so many studios that all the tracks have totally different sound (vocals particularly). I’d call this a compilation album or the lost Tracks CD 5. Some samples, vocal patching and editing has been done really poorly. Tom Morelly adds pretty much nothing to the whole thing (don’t get me wrong, I like Rage Against the Machine, but this isn’t RATM album). It’s good that the Bruce & Co a offered a full stream of the High Hopes album. I cancelled my pre-order and saved money for beer. Once the album comes available on Spotify I can listen to Harry’s Place couple more times, and that’s about it.
Three more weeks and the 2014 tour starts, and that’s where the fun is. I wonder how the live versions turns out.
PS. Rolling Stone gave to High Hopes 4½ stars, because they had given too many 5 star reviews to Bruce Springsteen records lately.
Where to buy the High Hopes album?
Amazon offers exclusive live DVD with the High Hopes album:
Amazon.co.uk – High Hopes CD with a limited edition live DVD
Amazon.com – High Hopes CD with a limited edition live DVD
How to get your own music to Spotify, Itunes, Amazon etc.?
If you are looking for an easy way to get your music to digital services like iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon…and get some free music promotion. Check out my blog post about Record Union!
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