- 30 Jan 14
Odds-n-Sods compilation proves the proverbial mixed bag
One of rock’s foremost maximalists, it’s no surprise Bruce Springsteen should seek to turn the outtakes record, a somewhat hackneyed institution, into something altogether more ambitious. Recorded on and off through Springsteen’s marathon 2012/13 Wrecking Ball tour, High Hopes sees the singer revisiting obscurities and long-time favourites alike and tossing several unlikely covers into the pot (a characteristically earthy reading of Suicide’s ‘Dream Baby Dream’ is particularly striking).
All of the E-Street Band feature, as does Tom Morello, the Rage Against The Machine guitarist who replaced bandana-wearing regular Steve Van Zandt on the Australian leg of the Wrecking Ball dates (Van Zandt was off filming his Norwegian crime show Lilyhammer). This temporary shake-up in the ranks seems to have invigorated Springsteen, who gives Morello a prominent spot on a beefed-up revisiting of ‘The Ghost Of Tom Joad’, from his 1995 album of the same name (Morello turns out to be an ardent Bruce foil, but I kept yearning for the original’s whispered understatement).
Thematically, High Hopes has a somewhat random feel, though most of the songs share the blue-denim swagger that Springsteen has embraced over recent long players. There are contemplative moments, but these feel like place holders, as Springsteen and band count down to the next throaty rock-out. This is a collection that pushes the pedal to the floor early on and mostly keeps it there.