Parachutes - Coldplay
Despite being nearly 14 years old now, the can be no doubting the importance of the album which launched Coldplay to international fame. Featuring, inspiring, maybe slightly relaxing songs such as Spies, and Don't Panic, the album slowly builds into something bigger. Like a story line, the album develops and reaches the climatic anthem ... of Yellow, which is perhaps one of their most famous songs. I am by now a Coldplay fan, having seen them twice, it is undoubtadely, along with Mylo Xylto some of their best music. Trouble is also one that sticks particularly in my mind as a song that I can forever play on repeat and never tire of.
If you are new to the band, then there can be no better place to start with than this album, X+Y features the aw inspiring Fix You song that you will soon want to add to your collection. But for now, this is a timeless classic, you need in your Itunes / CD collection.
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Opus Eponymous - Ghost
"Opus Eponymous" is the debut album by Swedish heavy metal band, Ghost. It was released in 2010 on Metal Blade Records and produced by Gene Walker. The line-up for the album was Papa Emeritus (vocals), Nameless Ghoul (guitar), Nameless Ghoul (guitar), Nameless Ghoul (bass), Nameless Ghoul (drums) and Nameless Ghoul ... (keyboards).
There are many bands out there with gimmicks - Kiss with their make-up, Slipknot wearing masks, Gwar with elaborate alien costumes - and Ghost (or Ghost B.C. in the US) is one of those that puts a unique spin on making and playing music, as the vocalist, Papa Emeritus, appears with a mask that has a skull painted on it and a priest's robe and hat, while the rest of the band are Nameless Ghouls, appearing in public with black hooded robes and masks and each wears a different alchemy symbol, representing air, fire, water, earth and ether. The album is a tale of dark and angry moods, and, according to a Nameless Ghoul, is "about a coming darkness, an impending doom." Ghost is reported to be a satanic band but it is more about the gimmick, once more. So fear not, and the lyrics you are about to see are not to be taken seriously. Is it any good? Let's find out!
The album begins with a 93-second instrumental that is an eerie number played on the keyboard. It is likely meant to signify the beginning of Ghost as a band, but also indicates it could be the end of a life, as in a funeral dirge. It sets the mood for the album quite well and it also gives inkling into what the band has in store for the listener over the course of the next half hour or so.
Con Clavi Con Dio
The song's title is in Italian and roughly translates as "With Nails With God". It is a song about praising and worshipping Satan, with Papa Emeritus letting the listener know that Ghost is here and ready to give their lives for the evil master. The song starts out with a funky bass line which is very reminiscent of Geezer Butler and Black Sabbath. As soon as the impressive guitar riff, drums and keyboards kick in, we get a taste of Papa's vocals for the first time. The majority of people probably thought that the ears would be subjected to unfathomable death metal vocals but this is far from it, as he is quite an accomplished singer. It is pretty obvious that the band has taken influence from Sabbath, but there are also tones of Iron Maiden in the guitar playing, especially with the classic chugging riffs. It is a pretty solid song and has a great solo riff near the end, which is followed by haunting chants.
We are here
For your praise
Our conjuration sings infernal psalms
And smear the smudge in bleeding palms"
The song has a different kind of atmosphere to the previous track, in that, lyrically, it is not as demanding on the Satanism aspect, and musically, it is more of a poppier number than its predecessor. It sails along at a steady pace and would not sound out of place in the 1960s when bands were singing about flowers in the rain, good vibrations and the sunshine of your love. Of course, it's obviously heavier than anything put out in that decade but when you have a chorus which sounds like this one does, you know you're on to a winner. The combination of the instruments is what makes the song click, and it is definitely a fan favourite.
"Our fallen angel vexed
Was banished from the sky
Recite now from the text
Pray for all to die"
Here is a song about the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, aka the Blood Countess. Bathory was a serial killer who lived from 1560-1614 and bathed in the blood of her victims as she was of the impression that it would help keep her youth. The first thing to note of the song is that the production is excellent, with a nice mix of the guitars, drums and keyboards, putting forth the bass on a level with everything else. The song seems to have that winning formula that is very hard to create in the music world these days, in that it is catchy but not too catchy that it will get overplayed. There is a great guitar solo halfway through in which the mixers cleverly change from that great blend to an atmospheric and almost eerie backdrop, before bringing you back into the main part of the track again.
"Underneath the moonlight of old Hungarian skies
Buried in the blood-drenched earth
These barren lands of ice
She was an evil woman with an evil old soul
Piercing eyes emotionless
A heart so black and cold"
Stand by Him
The track begins with a mid-paced drum beat, quickly followed by the main guitar riff which will not fail to have the listener tapping along. This song has some good interchanges in between riffs and hooks, but once again it is the chorus which encapsulates its audience, and if that is not enough then the organ sound with its haunting melody is another piece of this puzzle which seems to effortlessly fit together. The song ends with a nice little guitar solo riff outro and when it completes, it is hard to imagine that it had been playing for almost four minutes.
"A moon shone bright above her trial
As flames ate through her body defiled
The witch hammer
Struck her down
Through our Sabbath
She is unbound"
The song comes in with a spatial guitar strum that sounds like something Hawkwind or Rush would do. The main bulk of the track itself is another of those pop-laden melodies that, as much as you will try to shake, you probably won't be able to. Though that said, it does have a little of the flower power effect to it, which brings the listener full circle to the 60s again. The most interesting thing about the song is the excellent bass line that one of the Nameless Ghouls is playing, especially in the bridge when it seems to be a free-for-all between the bass, guitar and keyboards that is a refreshing change from the doom and gloom of most of the song.
"Believe in one god do we
The uncreator of heaven and soil
And the unvisible and the visible
And in his son
Begotten of father"
This is a song that has Black Sabbath written all over it, as it is full of doom riffs, strange breaks and powerful riffs, as well as a timely knolling of a bell. Sabbath is not the only influence in the song, though, as you can hear a Slayer hook and a Machine Head riff, but most music is copied from one source or another these days anyway. Sadly that's where the good ends, as the song evolves into very much of the same thing heard in previous tracks on the album which is a shame, because it is at this point of an album where you need to hear something that will blow your mind.
"Say, can you see the cross?
Symbol for the goat
Of a thousand young"
This is a song about the coming of the antichrist, who is being carried by the anti-virgin Mary, posing as a nun. It goes through the motions of what she is feeling in the womb as she tries to keep her secret to herself without drawing attention to Satan's masterplan. While that description sounds incredible, the song is not that much. It starts out pretty good with a neat little interchange between bass and guitar but then it starts to get a little too repetitive. There is a lot of 70s prog rock in the song, but it is not enough to keep it interesting and it eventually tapers off long before the next song begins.
"Clad in cloak
Bearing the old one's bastard son
A varucose phallus
Obsessed and poised her
Cast a veil of dusk upon the cloister"
The album closes out in the same way it began - with an instrumental. However, this is a four-minute piece that unfortunately sounds a little too much like King Diamond to be taken seriously as one of Ghost's own, and does not really sound like the band at all. There is obviously some kind of togetherness with the Nameless Ghouls, and they appear to be showcasing their talent to all who will listen with a nice acoustic outro to complete it.
Debut albums are never easy to write and record, and if you don't get it right the first time you very rarely, if ever, get a chance to rectify your mistakes for another album. Ghost does a good job in giving their audience what they are craving, but it only just manages to captivate enough to make the listener crave more. The band's live show is where much of the hype is, though there are many high points the album has to offer. All in all it's a solid album, but it is not as strong as it could have been.
1. Deus Culpa
2. Con Clavi Con Dio
5. Stand by Him
6. Satan Prayer
7. Death Knell
8. Prime Mover
My rating: 7/10
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High Hopes - Bruce Springsteen
Bruce - Springsteen - High Hopes -- I've been a Springsteen fan for many years and have seen him live on numerous occasions all over the world. 'High Hopes' is his eighteenth studio album but more importantly for me it is the one hundred and thirty-fifth album of my Bruce Springsteen collection. I ... collect live albums, rare bootlegs and unreleased material as well as the official releases in case you were wondering. On January 15th this year, Bruce announced that from now on all of his live shows would be recorded and be available for download after each show. My cassettes and vinyl live bootlegs now become a part of my Bruce nostalgia; sad in one way but also very cool.
I was a fan of the original 'Born in the USA' and by that I mean 'the' original that ninety-odd songs were penned for, which was originally titled 'Murder Incorporated'. It contains much better material and was sadly dumped for the more commercial effort after Springsteen wrote 'Dancing in the Dark' to prove to his manager that he could write a top ten hit if he wanted to. I mention this because I always measure new albums against the Murder Incorporated unreleased material, which I rate as some of Bruce's best work and seeing as this album has been touted as Bruce's best unreleased and re-worked material then I guess it is very relevant.
Since this review is for the product of the week at the time of writing, I will refrain from doing my normal added biography of the artist in question and in doing so, avoid risking the wrath of the God of 'No long reviews at any cost because we can't be bothered to write long reviews and if you do it makes us look bad and long reviews are just long'. Sorry I couldn't resist that and in response - short is just short or at least lacking in effort and seeing as this is a review about Bruce Springsteen it is a very relevant comment; Just ask Rob Aniello who collaborated with Bruce in getting this album together. Bruce never compromises passion and the story he wants to tell to fit into any politically correct pigeon hole; and believe me Bruce always has a story to tell. Many will say this album is a sell-out or an attempt to plug the hole in-between albums but I disagree. Bruce doesn't need to do that to progress. I see it as more of a thank you to fans. While it may not be a Springsteen album in the sense that it is all new material and a story from beginning to end, it is still obvious that it has been put together with some thought. In the past, Bruce has been accused of over-writing and having songs that are too long when finished, but the simple fact is that they were that long because that is how they turned out and that's what they evolved into from that first initial idea.
My only criticism is that in producing the tracks and mixing them the way they have, they have taken away some of the raw energy of the tracks and the very heart beat of the E-Street Band, which becomes drowned and almost suffocated by the bells and whistles of the recording studio's technical influence.
Bruce picks up his bus pass this year and at sixty-five is still one of the hardest working people in the music industry. While still touring with Wrecking ball he got in touch with Rob Aniello and told him of his idea about putting together an album of covers, previously released tracks that have been re-worked and old demos that he wanted to bring to life. While on his way to Australia for the Australian leg of the tour he detoured to Los Angeles (it was actually the day before) and he ended up working almost sixteen hours around the clock. He even posed for the album pictures and put together the concept of the album. Rob Aniello said he has never seen anyone at that age work so hard before and still have that much passion and attention to detail. Let's not forget that Bruce had to fly top Australia the next day and play a concert to thousands of eager fans. It speaks volumes of a man who has been at the top of his game for over four decades.
So onto the album and believe me I feel uncomfortable not doing a biography of the great man for you to read first; but seeing as that would probably run to over ten thousand words I will stick to the album for my sanity and yours.
The album was released on January 14th 2014and went to number one all over the world. It gave Bruce his eleventh number one album in America, which raised him above Elvis Presley to put him third on the all-time list behind The Beatles with nineteen and Jay Z (yes I said Jay Z - I know, I don't get it either. I couldn't name one Jay Z album and was shocked to find out he had had twelve number one albums), but fair-play to him.
High Hopes - The Alnum
Track One - High Hopes
High Hopes builds up a tempo at the start with a tapping drum and snare, which is joined by a raucous acoustic guitar. It is almost like the pulse of train and builds momentum as it goes. Bruce's rasping voice bursts in with the first verse before the chorus hits, tempered by an upbeat horn section. The roots rock fell intermingles with a bit of folk and more traditional rock and you don't quite get how catchy it becomes on first listen. High Hopes made its first appearance on the brilliant 'Blood Brothers' EP. It is also the first official single to be released from this album and hit the charts on November 25th 2013. It is a cover of the Tim Scott McConnel l song. Track time: 4.56
'Coming from the city, coming from the wild. I see a breathless army breaking like a cloud. They're gonna smother love, they're gonna shoot your hopes. Before the meek inherit they'll learn to hate themselves.'
Track Two - Harry's Place
Another track that needs to grow on you and written by Springsteen features the E-Street Band and also Tom Morello who replaced Miami Steve van Zandt (Little Steven) for part of the Wrecking Ball tour (including Australia) while Steve was busy filming a TV series. The track also includes the Atlanta Strings. For me it is great to hear Clarence Clemons (May the big man rest in peace) rasping out that fantastic saxophone. This track reeks of sleaze and that metal tang of American rock that is so vivid you can almost see the track in your head as it plays. The chorus sounds like Bruce is screaming through a loud-hailer, which gives it an even more rough-edged sound. Add to that the raw sound of Morello's guitar and it is a heady mix of rock and steel. Track time: 4.03
'You need a little shot of something to improve your health. A taste of that one little weakness you allow yourself. You're looking for the key of that box you locked yourself in. Just step up to the line and be one of Harry's friends.'
Track Three - American Skin (41 Shots)
A song that has always sent shivers down my spine. The song alludes to Amadou Diallo who was wrongly shot by police in New York. Diallo was wrongly mistaken for a serial rapist (51 rapes) by four New York City cops who worked for a special street crime unit. Diallo was scared and made his way up some steps to get help. He produced a wallet from his pocket and in the dark one of the officers opened fire shouting 'Gun!' In the melee one of the officers tripped on the steps and fell backwards, which caused the other three officers to think he had been shot. They fired a total of forty-one shots; nineteen of them hit Diallo. The four officers were acquitted, of course!
Springsteen penned the song and played it live in 2000. He controversially played it at New York Madison Square Gardens and the police fraternity tried to ban his tour (unsuccessfully). The live version was originally released on 'Live in New York City' and the original studio version on promo CD in 2001. Bruce has also dedicated this song to Trayvon Martin, a seventeen year old who was shot by a security guard. The security guard was also acquitted.
For me, the arrangement of the song on this album is too soft. I prefer this song when it is raw and live as it carries so much more heart and passion. It is still an amazing track though and I defy anyone to not become moved once they are familiar with the case.
The '41 shots' lyric that starts the song is now done in that supressed loud-hailer technique and for me it distempers the meaning a little, although it is still very haunting. The way the bass ambles along at the start with the snare and the melodic keyboard to create that sad sound still gets to me every time I hear it. The lyrics are also really sad and I have cried on numerous occasions thinking about poor Amadou. Now that's a song! Track time: 7.22
I still think it one of the most poignant and important songs that Bruce has ever written.
'(41 shots) (41 shots) (41 shots) (41 shots)
'41 shots, and we'll take that ride, cross the bloody river to the other side. 41 shots, cut through the night. You're kneeling over his body in the vestibule, praying for his life.
Is it a gun, is it a knife. Is it a wallet, this is your life. It ain't no secret (it ain't no secret). It ain't no secret (it ain't no secret), no secret my friend - You can get killed just for living in your American skin.
'(41 shots) (41 shots) (41 shots) (41 shots)
'41 shots, Lena gets her son ready for school. She says, "On these streets, Charles, you've got to understand the rules. If an officer stops you, promise me you'll always be polite and that you'll never ever run away, promise Mama you'll keep your hands in sigh'
Track Four - Just Like Fire Would
After the sad and dark subject matter of the previous track 'Just Like Fire Would' fairly jumps onto the speakers and is a high-tempo upbeat bouncing track that lifts you out of your melancholy mood. This is another cover from an Australian band 'The Saints' and their track 'All Fools day' from Nineteen eighty-seven. The orchestra beat and more so the strings section fit in really well with the tempo. This is a very jolly and triumphant track and is more reminiscent of Bruce's typical studio albums of the last decade, especially 'Working on a Dream'. The horn section sounds like something out of a cavalry and it is almost sickly sweet in its intentions, but very enjoyable all the same. Track time: 3.52
'One night in a motel room, eyes cast like steel. I drank the wine that they left on my table; I knew the morning was too far. Just like fire would, I burn up, just like fire would. Just like fire would, I burn up.'
Track Five - Down in the Hole
This track slows the whole thing down again and we begin with what sounds like an industrial clanging of heavy machinery in the background. Bruce's wife Patti Scialfa's haunting tones accompany this before Bruce's voice comes in and again it is recorded in that subdued loud-hailer technique. On this track it actually works and it is a nice touch when mid-sentence it changes into Bruce's full vocal. I like this track more than I thought I would at first and I think it will really grow on me. Mid-way it saunters into a roots and folk blend that also fits the track really well. Track time: 4.56
'Radio's cracklin' with the headlines. Wind in the phone lines. The sun upon your shoulder. Empty city skyline. The day rips apart. A dark and bloody arrow pierced my heart.'
Track Six - Heaven's Wall
It wouldn't be a Springsteen album nowadays if it didn't have a gospel like song on it and this is no exception. Starts like something out of an episode of 'fame'. The track as a really heady beat and it kicks along at some pace. The strings are again sounding like they belong but for me the chorus is too repetitive as is the norm when Bruce does this type of song. Even though it is not lyrically brilliant it is quite infectious and may yet grow on me. Morello's guitar sounds cultured and free and is one of the stand-out parts of the track. This is a cool track but not one of my favourites at the moment. Track time: 3.47
'There was a woman waiting at the well, drawing water 'neath a desert sky of blue. She said "He'll heal the blind, raise the dead, cure that sickness out of you. Come on men of Gideon, come all men of Saul. Come all sons of Abraham, waiting outside heaven's wall.'
Track Seven - Frankie Fell in Love
Frankie Fell in love has more of a Bruce vibe to it than most of the tracks on the album. This is what Bruce does best and the track hasn't been technically dampened to death. We have lyrics to listen to hear and not the repetitive chorus of the last track, which is a welcome relief. The lyrics could be deemed as cheesy but when Bruce does cheesy, he does it well. This is the shortest track on the album and frankly (no pun intended) a bit of good old fashioned 'rockin' fun. Track time: 2.45
'World peace's gonna break out. From here on in we're eating take out. She ain't gonna be cooking for the likes of us. Somebody call mama and just tell her....Frankie fell in love.'
Track Eight - This is Your Sword
Frankly this song reminds me of a track that belongs on the soundtrack of a Robin Hood series or movie. Good old raise your mug to your friends type fodder. It is almost too nice in its joviality and not a track I will be listening to again. The lyrics are uplifting and the music is upbeat and runs alongside them nicely. It just reminds me of the Pogues do Sherwood Forest a little too much with the bleating pipes and big band-like drums. Thankfully it is the second shortest track on the album. Track time: 2.49
'Now this is your sword, this is your shield; this is the power of love revealed. Carry it with you wherever you go and give all the love that you have in your soul.'
Track Nine - Hunter of Invisible Game
This is a track that starts out semi-upbeat and then slows down into the first verse. It is reminiscent of Bruce ballads from the nineties and a nice enough song. Bruce is in no rush with this song and his husky voice sounds as good as it ever has. For those who still choose to claim that Bruce can't sing, give me a call when you've released your eighteenth album and I'll compare you to him. This track has a nice melodious back-beat and the strings are again haunting in their beauty. The chinking acoustic riff that plays throughout gives it that lift and accompanies Bruce's dulcet tones really well. Track time: 4.39
'Through the bone yard rattle and black smoke, we rolled on. Down into the valley, where the beast has his throne. There I sing my song and I sharpen my blade. I am the hunter of invisible game.'
Track Ten - The Ghost of Tom Joad
The Ghost of Tom Joad is the title track from the album of the same name. I loved that album and I was lucky enough to see Bruce playing solo acoustic at the Royal Albert Hall on the Tom Joad Tour. On that night this song was haunting and echoed of the Albert Hall's acoustics like a wraith that was bidding to envelop us all. Sadly this arrangement has tried to rock the track up and in my opinion is nowhere as near as good as the original. I appreciate the fact that Bruce wanted to change it up and that that is what this album is all about but it is just too steeped in soft rock glamour of the Bon Jovi type that is apparent in the massive guitar riff in the chorus. The end of the song is mind-numbingly irritating and what the attempt at the scratching guitar was used for is beyond me. At one stage I expected someone to bellow out 'I wanna know what love is'. One of the reasons I love Bruce is because he is not afraid to experiment and I have seen some really surprising reworks of old songs at shows that were a joy to behold but for me, this version has killed a classic song that is much better in its original form. Don't get me wrong it is a well-produced track and testament to Bruce's skill at reworking a title but for me it is one step too far for one of my favourite tracks. Track time: 7.29
'Well the highway is alive tonight. Where it's headed everybody knows. I'm sitting down here in the campfire light, waiting on the ghost of Tom Joad.'
Track Eleven - The Wall
This track is another ballad and a pretty one at that. This is more than likely a track that will grow on me. Bruce said that this track was inspired by a visit to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington with his wife Patti. Bruce has penned songs about Vietnam throughout his career and the words are always heart felt and passionate. This track is no different and it is a subject that Bruce will always find a place for in his work. The backing singer's vocals are haunting and Bruce sounds in fine fettle. It is a lovely song and it was penned from the very soul of this caring man. Track time: 4.14
'On the ground dog tags and wreaths of flowers, with ribbons red as the blood. Red as the blood you spilled in the Central Highlands mud. Limousines rush down Pennsylvania Avenue, rustling the leaves as they fall and apology and forgiveness got no place here at all. ...here at the wall.'
Track Twelve - Dream Baby Dream
I was kind of hoping that the album would end with a massive track but that is sadly not the case. It's another semi-ballad and back to the repetitive lyrics of Heaven's Wall. It is just too repetitive for me and doesn't close off the album in a way that I would have hoped. The acoustic guitar, piano and strings again give it a haunting pulse but it is a song that I just can't take to. The synthesiser gives the track too much of a put-together feel. It is a cover of the band 'Suicide' and when you hear the original it again becomes clear that Bruce can really alter a track. Track time: 5.02
'Come open up your heart. Come on and open up your heart. Come on and open up your heart. Come on dream on, dream baby dream.'
Amazon is selling a special edition of the album. The special edition comes with a DVD of Bruce and the E Street Band's live performance of the Born in the U.S.A album live in London at the Hard Rock Calling Festival at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on June 30th 2013.
Springsteen's own words on the album
Following is a press release in Bruce's own words about why he wanted to record this album.
I was working on a record of some of our best unreleased material from the past decade when Tom Morello (sitting in for Steve during the Australian leg of our tour) suggested we ought to add "High Hopes" to our live set. I had cut "High Hopes," a song by Tim Scott McConnell of the LA based Havalinas, in the 90′s. We worked it up in our Aussie rehearsals and Tom then proceeded to burn the house down with it. We re-cut it mid tour at Studios 301 in Sydney along with "Just Like Fire Would," a song from one of my favourite early Australian punk bands, The Saints (check out "I'm Stranded"). Tom and his guitar became my muse, pushing the rest of this project to another level. Thanks for the inspiration Tom.
Some of these songs, "American Skin" and "Ghost of Tom Joad," you'll be familiar with from our live versions. I felt they were among the best of my writing and deserved a proper studio recording. "The Wall" is something I'd played on stage a few times and remains very close to my heart. The title and idea were Joe Grushecky's, then the song appeared after Patti and I made a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. It was inspired by my memories of Walter Cichon. Walter was one of the great early Jersey Shore rockers, who along with his brother Ray (one of my early guitar mentors) led the "Motifs". The Motifs were a local rock band who were always a head above everybody else. Raw, sexy and rebellious, they were the heroes you aspired to be. But these were heroes you could touch, speak to, and go to with your musical inquiries. Cool, but always accessible, they were an inspiration to me, and many young working musicians in 1960′s central New Jersey.
Though my character in "The Wall" is a Marine, Walter was actually in the Army, A Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Infantry. He was the first person I ever stood in the presence of who was filled with the mystique of the true rock star. Walter went missing in action in Vietnam in March 1968. He still performs somewhat regularly in my mind, the way he stood, dressed, held the tambourine, the casual cool, the freeness. The man who by his attitude, his walk said "you can defy all this, all of what's here, all of what you've been taught, taught to fear, to love and you'll still be alright." His was a terrible loss to us, his loved ones and the local music scene. I still miss him.
This is music I always felt needed to be released. From the gangsters of "Harry's Place," the ill-prepared roomies on "Frankie Fell In Love" (shades of Steve and I bumming together in our Asbury Park apartment) the travellers in the wasteland of "Hunter Of Invisible Game," to the soldier and his visiting friend in "The Wall", I felt they all deserved a home and a hearing. Hope you enjoy it,
Although I still have a massive Springsteen collection it just doesn't feel the same to me when he releases a new album now. I don't get that excited feeling that I used to and High Hopes is by no means one of his best, so did little to heighten my enthusiasm. I do like the idea that he has tried to give some of the tracks a rehash and give them a proper studio feel but for me it was a mistake on 'The Ghost of Tom Joad'. I suppose if you take it at face value and listen to it as a studio produced track then it's fine, but I just can't help feeling that it has done an injustice to the original; but that is just my perspective and it is still produced with some skill; although I still don't get the attempt at scratching with the guitar riff. Likewise with '41 Shots', it just didn't contain anything new for me apart from the fact that it was glammed up a few notches and I prefer my Springsteen raw and on the edge.
Over all it is still some new Bruce stuff to listen to or at least some old Bruce that has been renewed in most cases but I would have still preferred a new album of completely new material. As a collector of his bootlegs I can get many rehashes and some of them live and raw or in demo form, which in a way is much better than the studio glossed efforts of this album.
I will always praise Bruce for whatever he does and even though I wasn't keen on the Seeger Sessions stuff it still had that Bruce quota of skill, passion and hard work and if nothing else proved that Bruce isn't a one trick pony like many of the cynics who have only heard Born in the USA might think.
High Hopes is a nice enough listen but I don't think it will go down as one of his top ten by a long shot.
I know one thing, since my good friend first played me 'Thunder Road' and I first heard 'Incident on 57th St' Bruce has been a part of my life and I think he always will be. When I get to that crossroads at the end of my life I hope to find Bruce there, leaning against that post. He will look up and smile and handing me his guitar he'll say 'Fancy learning how to make it talk'.
I give High Hopes three out of five stars.
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