LOS ANGELES – Bruce Springsteen has set Jan. 14 for the release of “High Hopes,” a new studio album with some old familiar tunes. The 12 tracks of “High Hopes” will be comprised of covers of other artists, studio outtakes and new recordings of songs that have morphed during their live presentations. A video of the title track was made available on Springsteen’s official website.
Springsteen’s 18th studio album overall, the Columbia Records effort “High Hopes” will be the artist’s first since 2012’s “Wrecking Ball.” In liner notes to the album published by Springsteen, he partly credits Tom Morello, the former Rage Against the Machine guitarist who temporarily filled in for Steven Van Zandt when the latter left for acting duties, for accelerating the album.
“Tom and his guitar became my muse, pushing the rest of this project to another level,” Springsteen writes. “Thanks for the inspiration Tom.”
It was Morello, Springsteen writes, who encouraged the band to revisit “High Hopes,” a gospel-meets-rockabilly number written by L.A.’s Tim McConnell as a member of the Havalinas. An earlier Springsteen recording of “High Hopes” dates to the mid-’90s and surfaced on the 1996 “Blood Brothers” EP. Morello suggested the band add it to the group’s Australian tour, where this version was recorded.
“High Hopes” is one of three covers on the album. It is joined by a rendition of “Just Like Fire Would,” a mid-’80s, mid-tempo rock song from Australian punk band the Saints. Springsteen and the E Street Band have been performing the cut on tour. Also on the album is Springsteen’s take on Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream,” a band Springsteen has long professed a love for and a version of which Springsteen used as a thank-you letter to fans.
A number of the songs on “High Hopes” have made their way into Springsteen concerts over the years. Some, such as “American Skin (41 Shots),” are relatively well-known, as the latter was inspired by the fatal shooting of Amadou Diallo by the New York Police Department. “The Ghost of Tom Joad” was heard as the title track on Springsteen’s 1995 solo effort. Both versions here will feature Morello.
“I felt they were among the best of my writing and deserved a proper studio recording,” Springsteen said.
Lesser known is “The Wall,” a song inspired by a trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The remaining tracks are believed to be studio outtakes. Full credits were not yet revealed, but a press release notes that late E Street members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici will appear on several.