Tom Morello has announced a new solo album titled The Atlas Underground Fire, and shared the first single from it – a cover of AC/DC's Highway To Hell featuring Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder on vocals.
What can you say to that? The Boss, Vedder and the man who pioneered a whole new vocabulary for the electric guitar, jamming on an AC/DC classic is a story unto itself? Morello says the trio have brought the track “into the future“.
“Our version of ‘Highway To Hell’ pays homage to AC/DC but with Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder, bringing this legendary song into the future,“ he said. “One of the greatest rock ’n’ roll songs of all time sung by two of the greatest rock ’n’ roll singers of all time. And then I drop a shredding guitar solo. Thank you and good night.”
The song's video, which you can check out below, only has an animated glowing elephant – perhaps a vision of the “uncontrollable elephant“ Yngwie Malmsteen was warning us about the other day – to accompany the music, so we can't say whether or not Morello was in school uniform for the recording. However, we would pay good money to see Springsteen hoist him on his shoulders and go for a wonder onstage.
The Atlas Underground Fire features a rotating cast of guest stars. Bring Me The Horizon appear on Let’s Get The Party Started. Damian Marley joins Morello for The Achilles List. While Dennis Lyxzén of Refused stars on Save Our Souls. Other contributions come from the likes of Chris Stapleton, Phantogram, Protohype, and Sama’ Abdulhadi.
Morello says that he was left to his own devices during lockdown – quite literally – as, without the help of an engineer, he used his phone to record riff ideas while writing in his home studio. This begs the question as to why his home studio does not have Pro Tools or some sort of DAW for this purpose, but that can wait for another day. Ultimately, this lo-fi approach was a boon for Morello's creative process.
“This seemed like an outrageous idea but it led to a freedom in creativity in that I could not overthink any of the guitar parts and just had to trust my instincts,” he said. “This record was a life raft in a difficult time that allowed me to find new ways of creating new global artistic connections that helped transform a time of fear and anxiety into one of musical expression and rocking jams.”
The Atlas Underground Fire is out on 15 October through Mom + Pop Music and is available to pre-order here (opens in new tab).