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Bruce Springsteen's "High Hopes" Reviewed

Pie in the sky hopes
















I read somewhere where this guy was saying how all through till around 2000, Springsteen fought like hell to not become St. Bruce, the sort of dream St. Bono embraced with every fiber of his being, but with The Rising he just seemed to give up, just say “What the point of fighting it, right? I might as well embrace my inner sainthood and teach these suckers what’s what.”

The result has been disastrous for his recording career and not too great for his live performance, in 2000, Bruce was performing 150 minute sets, in 2013 210. Guess which was were better.

Everything a big statement from The Rising to Wrecking Ball, it is the state of the art and the state of the state and Bruce the politician happily talking down to us. It doesn’t matter if he is right or wrong, you know ; all that matters is night after night he can ram it all night long.

High Hopes, odds and sods, recordings of covers and rarities, the stuff he couldn’t fit anywhere with disciple Tom Morello adding his guitar to 8 of the 12 tracks. This is what we get, right?

Wrecking Ball was a fair to middling album that acted a little too big for its britches with its all its got debts no answer man can pay repeated over and over again for an hour of heavy handed rock and folk. High Hopes is fair to middling as well. “Hunter Of Invisible Game” is a great song, a sweet ballad and Bruce with one of his least mannered vocals in years; a modified waltz and a real better. “41 Shots”, you may remember the Amadou Diallo story, shot 41 times by police who kinda lost their cool, and you may remember the songs from the 2000 tour. This version, as well as “The Ghost Of Tom Joad”, are helped enormously by Morello’s superb guitar solo: real fire and brimstone stuff.

The album closes with Bruce’s best moment in years, a gorgeous version of Suicide’s “Dream baby Dream” ending it all with a true benediction, the disquieted synths of the original become a beatific exultation to share the moment.

So that makes four great songs but what of the other eight? Nothing stands out a few plays later, it is all kinda bland Risingish stuff like “Harry’s Place”: the same stuff he’s been doing for years and we don’t even get his funniest song maybe ever, “Freehold”.

There is no reason to fight it, this is another iffy Springsteen album.


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