A Preview Review: 'Chimes Of Freedom: The Songs Of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International'

Thinking about 72 Bob Dylan covers and what to expect from them...
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Chimes of Freedom - The Songs Of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty InternationalPut this on the list of things I meant to bring up a month ago when I first learned of it. There's a new compilation out today called Chimes Of Freedom: The Songs Of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International. As the title implies, this is a collection of Bob Dylan songs honoring and benefitting Amnesty. It's a 4-CD collection with 73 songs, 72 of them covers of Dylan songs by other artists with the 73rd and final song being Dylan performing the collection's title track.

Bro. Mat Brewster unveiled a brand new series devoted to covers and began with a Dylan cover, one not on this set and as he mentioned, Dylan might be the most covered artist in pop music history. It's been done to death because the body of work is unassailable, even if every song from the Dylan songbook doesn't carry the epic weight of Shakespeare or The Old Testament. There have been some brilliant reinterpretations as with the most famous example, Jimi Hendrix's "All Along The Watchtower" and there have been duds best left forgotten. This isn't even the first Dylan covers collection as there are who knows how many tribute albums floating around out there, notably the soundtrack to the quasi-biopic I'm Not There

So, yes, this isn't a new idea but it is a new collection (although some of these recordings may have appeared elsewhere before becoming part of this) and even though I'm going to cringe, howl, and banshee wail at some of these which are sure to be awful, I'm excited about it. I applaud the ecclectic grouping of participating artists even as I shudder at the thought of Maroon 5 tackling a personal favorite, "I Shall Be Released" or Ke$ha and Miley Cyrus taking a shot at anything but I'm ready to fall in love with the amazing Bettye LaVette singing "Most Of The Time" or Diana Krall's "Simple Twist Of Fate." Mark Knopfler doesn't disappoint, ever. It will take restraint not to skip ahead to the end of the first disc to hear "Restless Farewell." Taj Mahal is mighty, Lucinda Williams brilliant. I want to hear their performances as well.

I am also excited about hearing some artists whose names I know but work I don't. I've heard about bands like The Gaslight Anthem and artists like Raphael Saddiq. I want to hear what they come up with here and maybe it will nudge me to checking out more of their work. 

I've purchased the package (with this set and the I'm Not There soundtrack, I've got six discs of Dylan covers!) I've ripped the songs to my iPod. I'm going to listen to each and every one of them -- Miley and Ke$ha included -- and report back to you on the hits, misses, blahs, and in-betweens. It may take a minute but we're going to discuss these. Which of these are you most curious about? Which are you most afraid of? Let's compare before-and-after notes.

DISC 1 

  1. Johnny Cash Featuring The Avett Brothers  One Too Many Mornings
  2. Raphael Saadiq Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
  3. Patti Smith Drifter's Escape
  4. Rise Against Ballad of Hollis Brown
  5. Tom Morello The Nightwatchman Blind Willie McTell
  6. Pete Townshend Corrina, Corrina
  7. Bettye LaVette Most of the Time
  8. Charlie Winston This Wheel's On Fire
  9. Diana Krall Simple Twist of Fate
  10. Brett Dennen You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
  11. Mariachi El Bronx Love Sick
  12. Ziggy Marley Blowin' in the Wind
  13. The Gaslight Anthem Changing of the Guards
  14. Silversun Pickups Not Dark Yet
  15. My Morning Jacket You're A Big Girl Now
  16. The Airborne Toxic Event Boots of Spanish Leather
  17. Sting Girl from the North Country
  18. Mark Knopfler Restless Farewell

DISC 2 

  1. Queens Of The Stone Age Outlaw Blues
  2. Lenny Kravitz Rainy Day Woman # 12 & 35
  3. Steve Earle & Lucia Micarelli One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)
  4. Blake Mills Heart Of Mine
  5. Miley Cyrus You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
  6. Billy Bragg Lay Down Your Weary Tune
  7. Elvis Costello License to Kill
  8. Angelique Kidjo Lay, Lady, Lay
  9. Natasha Bedingfield Ring Them Bells
  10. Jackson Browne Love Minus Zero/No Limit
  11. Joan Baez Seven Curses (Live)
  12. The Belle Brigade No Time To Think
  13. Sugarland Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You (Live)
  14. Jack's Mannequin Mr. Tambourine Man
  15. Oren Lavie 4th Time Around
  16. Sussan Deyhim All I Really Want To Do
  17. Adele Make You Feel My Love (Recorded Live at WXPN)

DISC 3 

  1. K'NAAN With God On Our Side
  2. Ximena Sariñana I Want You
  3. Neil Finn with Pajama Club She Belongs to Me
  4. Bryan Ferry Bob Dylan's Dream
  5. Zee Avi Tomorrow Is A Long Time
  6. Carly Simon Just Like a Woman
  7. Flogging Molly The Times They Are A-Changin'
  8. Fistful Of Mercy Buckets Of Rain
  9. Joe Perry Man Of Peace
  10. Bad Religion It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
  11. My Chemical Romance Desolation Row (Live)
  12. RedOne featuring Nabil Khayat Knockin' on Heaven's Door
  13. Paul Rodgers & Nils Lofgren Abandoned Love
  14. Darren Criss featuring Chuck Criss and Freelance Whales New Morning
  15. Cage the Elephant The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
  16. Band of Skulls It Ain't Me, Babe
  17. Sinéad O'Connor Property of Jesus
  18. Ed Roland and The Sweet Tea Project Shelter From The Storm
  19. Ke$ha Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
  20. Kronos Quartet Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

DISC 4

  1. Maroon 5 I Shall Be Released
  2. Carolina Chocolate Drops Political World
  3. Seal & Jeff Beck Like A Rolling Stone
  4. Taj Mahal Bob Dylan's 115th Dream
  5. Dierks Bentley Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) (Live)
  6. Mick Hucknall One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)
  7. Thea Gilmore I'll Remember You
  8. State Radio John Brown
  9. Dave Matthews Band All Along the Watchtower (Live)
  10. Michael Franti Subterranean Homesick Blues
  11. We Are Augustines Mama, You Been On My Mind
  12. Lucinda Williams Tryin' To Get To Heaven
  13. Kris Kristofferson Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)
  14. Eric Burdon Gotta Serve Somebody
  15. Evan Rachel Wood I'd Have You Anytime
  16. Marianne Faithfull Baby Let Me Follow You Down (Live)
  17. Pete Seeger Forever Young
  18. Bob Dylan Chimes Of Freedom