The new Springsteen album is not quite a new Springsteen album at all.
It’s a collection of newly minted studio versions of live favourites, live recordings of studio tracks, cover versions and out-takes.
Still, it’s a new Springsteen album and for that reason alone it is cause for some celebration.
It defies labelling. There’s gospel, politics, love songs and stories, but even when his material is not quite up to scratch Springsteen never sounds anything but heartfelt and that is the case here.
Much attention has been focused on American Skin (41 Shots), written in response to the police shooting of unarmed immigrant Amadou Diallo in New York, which got Springsteen in trouble with the police when he first played it on tour in the 1999/2000 tour and now revived following the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012.
A Streets of Philadelphia-style ballad, it’s one of the strongest songs here: Bruce is at his best when he’s got something to get his teeth into.
It’s never less than enjoyable – This Is Your Sword’s gospel, the tender The Wall, and the tremendous, touching cover of synth duo Suicide’s Dream Baby Dream which closes the album are particular highlights – but unfortunately not all of it is up to the usual high Springsteen standard.
If you found Down in the Hole, Heaven’s Wall or Just Like Fire Would on a b-side you’d be thrilled, but on an album they feel too much like filler.
Like this? Try this: Bruce Springsteen: Magic; Bob Dylan: Modern Times