Considering it was a Bruce Springsteen concert staple throughout the 00’s, it is a bit surprising that American Skin (41 Shots) never got an official studio recording until now. High Hopes is not truly a rarities album but more of a hodgepodge of rarities, covers, and reimaginings of older songs in Bruce’s catalog all recorded on his most recent tour, the first time Springsteen ever recorded an album on the road.
American Skin (41 Shots) is the most notable inclusion since it dates all the way back to 2000. The song is about the police shooting death of an unarmed twenty-three year old Guinea resident Amadou Diallo who was shot forty-one times by four plain clothed officers while reaching into his pocket, pulling out what turned out to be a wallet. Like it live counterpoint, the new version of the song is slow simmering but starts to soar with a Tom Morello solo in the middle of the song taking it to heights the older versions of the song never reached.
Morello of Rage Against the Machine, who was subbing in for Steven Van Zandt who was off filming Lillehammer during the most recent tour, contributes to eight of the twelve tracks. This includes an updated version of Ghost of Tom Joad which appeared on Rage’s covers album. The new version splits the difference between the folksy original and the high octane of the Rage version which sees the two singers trading verses.
Since some of the rarities date back a decade and a half, two fallen members of the E Street Band make a couple of appearances to the album. You can hear Clarence Clemons’ saxophone on Harry’s Place while Danny Federici plays organ on The wall. While both can be heard on Down in the Hole which sonically recalls I’m on Fire but lyrically would have sounded out of place on The Rising. Like most rarities album, High Hopes is mostly for completist as most of the songs, despite being good, were probably left off the albums they were written for because they were just not good enough to be included then.
Song to Download – The Ghost of Tom Joad
High Hopes gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.