Bruce Springsteen

High Hopes (Columbia)

Phases & Stages

Bruce Springsteen

High Hopes (Columbia)

Last time a monument act took outtakes and re-recordings to No. 1 with such Midas nonchalance might well fall to 1981's Tattoo You, the Rolling Stones' final studio masterpiece. Where the latter's vaults uncovered the single rifle crack among three-dozen reggae takes of "Start Me Up," Jersey's boss of bosses takes his LP opener and lead single straight back to soul, liquefying 1996 EP track "High Hopes" with horns, harmonies, and hip-hop rhythms shot through by Tom Morello's skid-mark guitar. Post 9/11 sessions for The Rising yield early continuity ("American Skin [41 Shots]"), but once Springsteen goes Stax with full-on gospel rock ("Heaven's Wall"), High Hopes reveals its soft brown underbelly. The Sgt. Pepper/Satanic Majesties brass bridge and fanfare on Aussie punk cover "Just Like Fire Would" matches its strings, acoustic strum, and piano in harmonic nirvana. Neither late-inning syrup ("Hunter of Invisible Game") nor Rage Against the Machine ("The Ghost of Tom Joad") can undercut Suicide being taken Roy Orbison on closing revamp "Dream Baby Dream," High Hope's "Waiting on a Friend."

***.5

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