A new Springsteen album containing covers and outtakes from the past decade was the furthest thing from anyone's mind, but a release like this has been a long time coming, especially since Tracks, and it's barely even scratching the surface of the amount of stuff remaining in the vaults. High Hopes contains three eclectic covers, two of which we've already heard (the title track and Dream Baby Dream), and a new studio recording of Just Like Fire Would, from the Aussie punk band, The Saints. Presumably recorded in Sydney during the downtime in March, it has only been performed once at the first Brisbane show. I expect Bruce and the band will perform it more frequently during their Oz tour next Feb. The three covers share something in common, which is their obscurity. Then there's the two songs that we've all heard in concert and on live recordings many times already, but Bruce has decided to re-record them, to everyone's surprise. American Skin I'm not so crazy about, but I'm ecstatic the electric The Ghost Of Tom Joad has finally gotten a proper studio version. I won't be surprised if they continue playing it live next year, just like they did every Oz show this year. The Wall is one only the diehards are familiar with. It's a great tune and it's been performed solo very few times, and it's finally getting a deserved E Street Band treatment. The other six songs no one's ever heard before. It's a known fact Harry's Place is an outtake from The Rising that didn't fit thematically on the album. It's not related to Mary's Place. The fact that Tom Morello plays guitar on this song suggests that it might have been recorded again. There is no indication yet which of the recent albums songs like Down In The Hole, Heaven's Wall, Frankie Fell In Love, This Is Your Sword and Hunter Of Invisible Game were originally left off from, but one thing's for sure -- they will feature the E Street Band, including Danny and Clarence, and some of them are produced by Brendan O'Brien. I'm really looking forward to hearing lots of Morello on this. Never in a hundred years you'd think he'd become a muse for Bruce.
P.S. There's an Amazon-exclusive available for pre-order that includes a bonus DVD of the entire Born In The USA performance from the band's London show this year [link]. I just wanna hear Downbound Train. People thinking that this is some sort of 'strange' and low-key way to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the blockbuster album in 2014 shouldn't worry. It's definitely a sign of bigger things to come. It's expected the record label will push hard for a deluxe box set to be released sometime next year. This kind of thing is simply too big to be ignored. So far there are no rumors of any US or European dates right after South Africa and Australasia, so the Feb/Mar jaunt may indeed be a one-off affair. I predict we'll see a brand new studio album from Bruce (and hopefully the E Street Band) in the later half of 2014. And then he'll start touring the States again and eventually make it to Europe in the summer of 2015.