Chimes of Freedom: Artists come together to benefit Amnesty International
Courtney Eckerle | Sunday, February 19, 2012
There are very few occasions where artists like Adele, Dierks Bentley, Dave Matthews Band, Miley Cyrus, Ziggy Marley and My Chemical Romance are all on the same album.
But these artists come together to tribute Bob Dylan in “Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.” The album is an homage to Dylan as well as a benefit for the peace and equality organization.
Dylan’s original version of “Chimes of Freedom” is the only song actually sung by him in an album made up entirely of his music.
As with any compilation of 73 songs (spanning four discs), they can’t all be winners. Stay away from “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” by Taj Mahal and The Phantom Blues Band. The gravelly swamp voice and harmonica mix just doesn’t work for some reason. It sounds less like Dylan, and more like a “Waterboy” Soundtrack reject. No idea how Evan Rachel Wood wormed her way in, but her swanky jazz club version of “I’d Have You Anytime” is tolerable at best.
The lady of the hour, Adele, unsurprisingly does a beautiful cover of “Make You Feel My Love,” whose side effects include introspection and an inclination to drown one’s sorrows in her voice. “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)” by Mick Hucknall, sounds eerily like if Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart had a vocal baby. A solid cover as well as a genuinely interesting vocal combination to check out.
“John Brown” by State Radio immediately jolts with a Deep Purple homage electric guitar intro, and doesn’t let up the rest of the song. Dave Matthews Band gets the honor of a live cover of “All Along the Watchtower,” which is sadly underwhelming. It starts out slow and melodramatic, and never picks up the power Dylan and a previous cover by Jimi Hendrix gave it, essential to the song’s greatness. An extended saxophone solo was also a poor choice on the band’s part.
Michael Franti hits “Subterranean Homesick Blues” out of the park. So good it could very easily grace a Honda commercial one day — the ultimate in happy song verification. “Forever Young” by Pete Seeger with The Rivertown Kids is adorable. So happy and fun, a genuinely great listen with a “grandpa giving advice” attitude.
“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” by Brett Dennen adds a little bit of Cajun blues flavor in the mix. In stark contrast (in a good way), it immediately goes into the tango-fied “Love Sick” with the angsty, tight and high violin. Ziggy Marley does not disappoint with the iconic “Blowin’ In The Wind,” and Gaslight Anthem surprises with “Changing of the Guards” which starts off slow, but kicks in at just the right moment.
Miley Cyrus’ “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” is astonishingly good, but also sounds almost nothing like her. So do with that what you will. On that note, Kesha’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” is as big of a disaster as it sounds — like a frog whose been gargling with Jack Daniels.
Queens of the Stone Age do a kick bass version of “Outlaw Blues” that would do Jesse James proud. K’Naan deviates from his usual fast paced style and does a soothing and mind opening version of “With God On Our Side.” Flogging Molly’s unique Celtic style is a romping good time on the originally contemplative “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ”
Other standouts include: “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)” by Dierks Bentley, “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” by Raphael Saadiq, “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” by Kris Kristofferson, “Drifter’s Escape” by Patti Smith, “Ballad of Hollis Brown” by Rise Against, “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” by Billy Bragg, “Abandoned Love” by Paul Rodgers & Nils Lofgren and “I Want You” by Ximena Sariñana.
You can’t deny the awesome factor with so many great artists covering songs from one of the great Dylan — and it’s for a good cause. Even if some of the tracks are less than worthy, for $18.99 to download the MP3s on Amazon, it’s a great deal for the majority of songs that are genuinely fantastic covers.
Contact Courtney Eckerle at [email protected]