Bruce Springsteen - High Hopes (Cover Artwork)

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen: High HopesHigh Hopes (2014)
Sony Music

Reviewer Rating: 2.5

Contributed by: JeloneJelone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

It's hard to avoid feeling like Bruce Springsteen hedged his bets with new release High Hopes. When he brought back some old tunes for 2012's Wrecking Ball, it was billed as a return to form (and rightfully so). When he does it for High Hopes, it's meant as a rarities collection, as if that would ex.
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It's hard to avoid feeling like Bruce Springsteen hedged his bets with new release High Hopes. When he brought back some old tunes for 2012's Wrecking Ball, it was billed as a return to form (and rightfully so). When he does it for High Hopes, it's meant as a rarities collection, as if that would explain away its lack of cohesion, singles and general quality. It's actually more in keeping with Springsteen's classic sound than Wrecking Ball by recalling The River and even, briefly, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle. it's just not very good.

Springsteen has notoriously shed songs over his lengthy career (anybody ever hear Steel Mill?), so the idea of a rarities comp isn't bad. The Tracks box set is amazing, as is The Promise, a double album of songs cut from Darkness on the Edge of Town. The problem with High Hopes, besides the whole lackluster thing, is that it's a rarities comp with no audience.

By not calling it a new full-length, Springseen implies that High Hopes is intended for diehards and not casual fans. But few diehards will look at these overproduced recordings of live staples as definitive versions. "American Skin (41 Shots)" is stuffed with strings and studio tricks, and while it's meant to be tasteful, it can't touch the solemn, gospel-tinged version on Live in New York City back in 2001. The full band take on "The Ghost of Tom Joad," featuring Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave journeyman Tom Morello, fares better, but it feels redundant given that it already appeared on the Wrecking Ball 10-inch. A cover of Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream" comes packed with electronic beats and even more strings, but anyone who's heard Springsteen's solo organ version from his Devils & Dust tour has heard it done better.

But High Hopes is not without its charms. There's maybe an EP's worth of strong tracks here that hearken back to The River's more radio-friendly tendencies, like the catchy "Just like Fire Would," "Frankie Fell in Love" and "This is Your Sword." These tunes have a breezy summer vibe. They also have a bit of a B-side quality to them (the structures for a lot of the choruses are simple recitations of the titles), but they're not half-bad. The title track, a Havalinas cover that Springsteen originally tackled on 1996's Blood Brothers EP, boasts New Orleans horns and much more spirit than the rest of the set.

High Hopes should have been much better. Given Morello's dynamite live sets with the E Street Band, it's a shame that the Springsteen album with his biggest influence is so underwhelming. Deceased members Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons get dredged up again for another tribute. If anything, High Hopes just makes proper albums like Wrecking Ball and Magic sound better by showing the detritus Springsteen had to clear away to get to those records.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
tomripley (January 23, 2014)

life itsself and the wrestler were my two picks for that album

tomripley (January 23, 2014)

life itsself and the wrestler were my two picks for that album

eatbicycles (January 23, 2014)

Working on a Dream is def terrible--curious to know what you thought the two good songs were--i think "life itself" and "what love can do" are as good as anything since The Rising

I would take a bullet for Tunnel of Love, that album is fucking amazing

tomripley (January 22, 2014)

oh man the wrecking ball album art is fantastic when you think about it! it's the same guitar he's holding on born to run where he's leaning on Clarence's shoulder. with the big man's passing, he's all alone with just the guitar. i dont know i felt that was one of his most powerful album covers ever.

and if we're ranking them

Born To Run
Greetings From Asbury Park
Wrecking Ball
The Rising
Born In The USA
E Street Shuffle
Devils and Dust
High Hopes
Ghost Of Tom Joad
The River
We Shall Overcome
---------- huge fall in quality
Tunnel of Love
Human Touch / Lucky Town
Working on a Dream (this album is a pile of Obama loving crap with 2 great songs buried into it. oof what a stinker)

Problematiclogic (January 22, 2014)

I liked this a lot more than Wrecking Ball personally, I couldn't stand him inexplicably pretending to be in an Irish folk band for most of that one.

televisioneyes (January 22, 2014)

I definitely agree with the bad album art post. But all in all not a bad album

twstdbydsn (January 21, 2014)

I like the record. I just wish he'd have better album covers. The last few have been stinkers.

danperrone (January 21, 2014)

the highs of wrecking ball were REALLY good. some pretty terrible songs though ("jack of all trades", "you got it"). as a whole, magic is a better record. it's solid all the way through, even if it doesn't have the one or two standout tracks.

born to run
the wild, the innocent, and the e street shuffle
born in the usa
darkness on the edge of town
greetings from asbury park nj
the rising
wrecking ball
tunnel of love
the river
nebraska (sometimes i feel like the only one who doesn't dig this record)
working on a dream
everything else (d&d, high hopes, ht/lt, tom joad, etc.)

daddyslittlegrandpa (January 20, 2014)

Tom Morello sucks.

tomripley (January 20, 2014)

i seriously don't understand how folks didn't love this record. sure it wasn't wrecking ball (which was his best record since darkness on the edge of town imo) but this is a great compilation of songs. The Saints cover is awesome, 41 shots sounds great with morellos wailing guitar solo. i don't know man i LOVED this record. though i'm a huge fan of the boss and i don't think hes made more than two bad records (human touch/lucky town and working on a dream are total stinkers). also GHOST OF TOM JOAD SOUNDS AMAZING ON THIS RECORD fucking amazing rerecording. yeah it's not an album its a rarities comp, but its fucking awesome.

eatbicycles (January 20, 2014)

Steel Mill was great

Morello sucks

flowerfeeder (January 20, 2014)

'Just Like Fire Would' is a Saints cover, by the way.

danperrone (January 20, 2014)

definitely a throwaway record. not worth more than a listen or two.

davebrave4 (January 20, 2014)

Did anyone else notice that if you look up "overhyped" in Webster's Online Dictionary, it links you right here?

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