Release Date: Jan 24, 2012
Record label: Amnesty International
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Easy Listening, Tribute Albums
This collection, assembled in honor of Amnesty International's 50th birthday, is stuffed with 80 artists, from Pete Seeger (folk-music deity, b. 1919) to Miley Cyrus (hot mess, b. 1992). Revelation and humor are in as short supply as hip-hop; instead, you get a good catchall for a great cause, with head-scratchers and surprises side by side (Miley turns out to be both).
Fifty years of Amnesty International are marked with this colossal, four-CD compilation of Bob Dylan covers – 75 tracks from as many artists, ranging from the trad (Pete Townshend's "Corrina, Corrina", the upbeat old-time of Carolina Chocolate Drops' "Political World") to the rad (Sussan Deyhim's "All I Really Want to Do", Ke$ha's pleasingly pared "Don't Think Twice…"). Elvis Costello harmonises with himself on a dubby "Licence to Kill"; fans of Adele will like her typically intense piano-backed live version of "Make You Feel My Love". .
Designed as a celebration for Amnesty International's 50th Anniversary, Chimes of Freedom is the mother of all tribute albums: a four-disc salute to Bob Dylan that runs some 76 songs performed by singers from all corners of the globe. Apart from Lennon/McCartney -- the former of which was the subject of producers Jeff Ayeroff and Julie Yannatta's previous 2007 collection Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur -- no other songwriter of the rock & roll era could attract so many different artists from so many different genres as Dylan, something that is a testament to the resilience of his catalog. From the very start of his career, Dylan saw his songs covered by all manners of artists, ranging from colleagues and peers to longhair rock bands, easy listening outfits, and weirdos like William Shatner, so the absurd abundance of Chimes of Freedom in a way fits into the grand pattern of history: his songs were always up for grabs, they've survived terrible misguided covers, they've been performed with loving faith, they've been reinvented once and again.
Bob Dylan never wrote any songs about body glitter or throwing up in the closet. So one may wonder why Ke$ha appears on Amnesty International’s new benefit disc Chimes of Freedom, a 76-track collection of Dylan covers that also features Adele (”Make You Feel My Love”), Maroon 5 (”I Shall Be Released”), and yes, Miley Cyrus (”You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”), among others. But on her stripped-down ”Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” Ke$ha gets the song’s heartbreak right; you can actually hear her sobbing between verses.
For nearly as long as there have been Bob Dylan songs, there have been Bob Dylan covers. The first notable example came in 1963, when folk trio Peter, Paul, and Mary took to the top of the pops with their harmonized rendition of “Blowin’ in the Wind”. Then came The Byrds’ electric “Mr. Tambourine Man”, another number-one hit, which replaced Dylan‘s simple strumming with jangling 12-string riffs.
To paraphrase a certain musical genius, the world don’t need any more Dylan covers. Or does it? Bob Dylan’s songs are some of the most covered of all time – see The 30th Anniversary Concert and the I’m Not There soundtrack, for starters. Or just stick your head into any coffee shop down the block – you’re bound to hear someone singing “Mr.
By the time Bob Dylan emerges on the title track closing out this epic, 4-CD benefit for Amnesty International, it's a revelation. Dylan's sinewy drawl grounds a contorting collection back to its purpose and struggle – personal, artistic, and social – and casts the varied revisions that precede it in the glare of their harrowing provenance. Brandishing unreleased or new takes on his catalogue, the vast array of contributors only emphasizes the depths to which Dylan can be interpreted.
A largely redundant and frequently downright woeful endeavour. Paul Whitelaw 2012 Yes, yes, all for a good cause and that, but only the most saintly apologist would deny that some heinous musical crimes have been committed in the name of charity over the years. And while this epic collection of Dylan covers isn't the worst offender, it's still a largely redundant – and frequently downright woeful – endeavour.