Various Artists: Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan

Brendan‘s back with a review of Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan. Amnesty International’s four-disc tribute to Dylan’s substantial catalogue was recently released in honor of the human rights organization’s 50th anniversary. The lengthy tribute features Dylan covers by Adele, Angelique Kidjo, Flogging Molly, The Gaslight Anthem, K’naan, Mariachi El Bronx, My Chemical Romance, Pete Seeger, Patti Smith, Queens of the Stone Age, Sinead O’Connor and many more.

There is something for everybody on this four-disc set of Bob Dylan covers. Unfortunately, this also means there will be some songs that don’t suit your tastes. For me, that dissatisfaction is exemplified by offerings by Ke$ha and Cage The Elephant. Eventually, I whittled the collection down to a core of 30 great renditions, some of which I’ll highlight here.

Easily topping my list is Diana Krall’s gorgeous version of “A Simple Twist of Fate.” As always, Krall’s voice drips with honey and inflects the lyrics with tenderness. Incidentally, if you haven’t heard her version of “A Case of You,” do yourself a favor and track it down.

Joan Baez’s voice manages to be revelatory every time I hear her, and her version of “Seven Curses” is beautiful.

I had not heard much by Dierks Bentley before, but his banjo-accompanied version of “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)” stands out from the pack.

Kris Kristofferson’s voice has matured into one that sounds eerily similar to Leonard Cohen’s and his version of “Quinn the Eskimo” is another highlight of the collection.

Mark Knopfler gives “Restless Farewell” a welcome Celtic flavor, while Flogging Molly are at their boisterous best on “The Times They Are A-Changin.”

Mick Hucknall’s “One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)” is almost an impersonation of Dylan but still a memorable track, and the instantly recognizable voice of Brett Dennen offers up an enthusiastic “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.”

Sting’s “Girl From the North Country” is a welcome addition, as is the unique instrumental “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” performed by Kronos Quartet.

I love Bryan Ferry’s voice and his “Bob Dylan’s Dream” is so good, I’m excited to hear his 2006 album Dylanesque – for which the track apparently wasn’t good enough.

Other names on the tribute I’d previously been unfamiliar with, but hope to hear more from are: The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Tom Morello, Thea Gilmore, Ximena Sarinana, We Are Augustines, Darren Kriss, and The Belle Brigade.

We were not granted permission to share an mp3, but you can hear samples at the links below…

Buy @ Amazon

Buy @ Amnesty International