WASHINGTON, Jan 06, 2014 (AFP) - Bruce Springsteen's 18th studio album "High Hopes" went online in the United States Sunday, 10 days before its general release - and on the 41st anniversary of The Boss's debut outing.
Television network CBS had announced it would host the Internet-only pre-release at www.cbs.com/shows/the-good-wife/springsteen after the conclusion of this week's episode of "The Good Wife" at around 10:00 pm (0300 GMT Monday) in a unique tie-in with the top-rated legal drama.
But American fans of the New Jersey-born rock 'n' roll voice of blue-collar America were delighted to discover the audio stream went online earlier in the evening - and initial reviews were upbeat.
"By the time that track draws to its haunting conclusion, you'll likely find that despite the rocky start, the album's familiar themes of hope, redemption and love's ability to trump adversity have worked their magic the way they do on any good Springsteen release," wrote Pete Chianca at Blogness on The Edge of Town, a blog dedicated to the 64-year-old rock legend.
As a CBS spokeswoman told AFP, the online stream is available only in the United States. In Paris, only the title track - released as a video a few weeks ago - could be heard on the website; the other 11 songs came up as "currently not available."
Some lucky fans already have "High Hopes" - Springsteen's first album since "Wrecking Ball" in 2012 - on their digital players after it briefly leaked out on Amazon.com as an MP3 download last weekend.
Springsteen's label is Columbia Records, a Sony Music Entertainment subsidiary formerly owned by CBS that was behind the surprise online release of Beyonce's eponymous fifth album on December 13. That record is currently enjoying its third week atop the Billboard 200 album chart, having sold more than 1.3 million copies.
Eagerly anticipated, "High Hopes" is a mix of cover versions, studio outtakes and re-recordings that Springsteen - who has concerts upcoming in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand - has called "music I always felt needed to be released."
Nine of the tracks feature Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, and two include the late Clarence Clemons, the much-loved saxophonist in Springsteen's E Street Band.
And one track, "Down in the Hole," has Springsteen's children on backing vocals - including his youngest Sam, who turned 20 on Sunday.