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The Best Records of 2014 so far: Bruce Springsteen – “The Ghost of Tom Joad”

Bruce Springsteen at The Isle of Wight Festival 2012  3227a

Whilst the class of albums such as “Born To Run” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town” leap out like an over-enthusiastic Ant and Dec at the end of one of their celebrity “japes”, Springsteen’s later albums are perhaps more of a mixed bag.

It’s like opening a second bottle of Dom Perignon.* You know it’s good vintage stuff, but it tastes a lot like the first bottle you had, and you know if you don’t move on to something different you’ll end up with a headache…

Whilst tortuous Champagne similes are not perhaps the best way to reference this rock n roll Steinbeck, it is good to report a belter of a song on Springsteen’s 2014 album “High Hopes”.

Sadly not containing the Frank Sinatra classic of the same name, Springsteen’s latest album is a collection of older previously unreleased tunes, and features former Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello playing alongside the E Street Band. Whilst the album is something of an interesting collection of old songs, with some great moments and some not so great, the whole thing leaps to life on one track, which is up there as one of the best Springsteen has ever recorded.

Although “The Ghost of Tom Joad” is not a new song – it was the title track of a 1995 Springsteen album – the original was a gentle acoustic number. Tom Morello clearly saw it otherwise, as anyone who has heard the version recorded by Rage Against The Machine on their 2000 album of cover tunes, “Renegades” will testify – it was well and truly given the RATM treatment.

So it is pleasing to report that the version here of “The Ghost of Tom Joad” is definitely the best version so far of the three versions – and is unequivocally the best song Springsteen has recorded for donkey’s years – with Morello sharing vocals and trading solos with spectacular effect. It doesn’t sound like it should work – but it absolutely does.

Spotify playlist: The Ghost of Tom Joad – three versions

* Probably. Not that I have ever been in that position.


9 responses to “The Best Records of 2014 so far: Bruce Springsteen – “The Ghost of Tom Joad””

  1. mikeladano Avatar

    We don’t get Spotify in Canada. I’m confused, is this a new release of some kind?


    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      It’s a new Springsteen album with a number of old songs (from over quite a long period – more than a decade) never released before or with new versions in a couple of cases of familiar songs.


      1. mikeladano Avatar

        Ahh got ya. I thought it was a new studio album of all new songs. Thanks for clearing it up!


      2. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

        It is a new studio album but I’d have to look up how many are freshly recorded and how many were recorded years ago. More the former I think.


      3. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

        Just checked – it’s all freshly recorded: High Hopes (album)


  2. Avatar

    Wow…I’ll give this a listen.


  3. John S Avatar

    I’ll always love the original.


    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      Me too. But the new version is better. 🙂


  4. DyingNote Avatar

    I had heard and seen a live video of this version on the Hall of Fame 25th anniversary gig. Blistering stuff.


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