Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chimes Of Freedom: Part One

I don't like Bob Dylan's "Changing Of The Guards," and I really don't like The Gaslight Anthem. Yet, I really like The Gaslight Anthem's version of "Changing Of the Guards" on the new 4 CD Amnesty International collection,"Chimes Of Freedom: The Songs Of Bob Dylan."  How's that for a summation of 5 hours of previously unreleased Bob Dylan covers, sprawled over 4 CDs in a delicately packaged boxed set for hardly any money?

And aside from the politics and proceeds, which are good...good...good, this collection seems like a sure far.

I wish I could tell you I made it through all 4 CDs, but I didn't. Not yet. TNT was running "The Shawshank Redemption" and well...I took the bait...again.  (That Morgan Freeman!) But I did give full attention to Disc One.

Let's start with the losers, since there aren't that many.


Silversun Pickups- Not Dark Yet
(The textures and mood are simply boring. It's unpleasant.)

Tom Morello- Blind Willie McTell
(I know Bruce loves him, but I don't. He ruins this masterpiece with his affected delivery. It kinda stinks.)

Bettye Lavette- Most Of The Time
(I love her. I love this song. And this version isn't terrible. I just don't like how she plays around with the lyrics. It's not quite sacrilege, but it's enough to change the feeling of a song that was already flawless.)

My Morning Jacket- You're A Big Girl, Now
(This song breaks my back every single time I hear it. Dylan's words and delivery on this "Blood On The Tracks" tour de force, make genuine, personal heartbreak seem manageable. I watched Daryl Hall pull this off on his web show. Jim James tries...but it's a no go. Sorry.)


I really and truly loved everything else on Disc One.

I loved Raphael Saadiq's cool and groovy take on "Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat." He really gets it.

I loved Ziggy Marley's not-so-reggae folk take on "Blowin' In The Wind." (Cool surprise, Zig.)

I loved Pete Townshend's straight but sweet "Corinna Corinna."

And I absolutely ADORED The Airborne Toxic Event's "Boots Of Spanish Leather." This was the real winner, so far. Smart and respectful. Subtle, yet powerful. Wow.

And there's more...

Even Sting managed to shrink his head a bit with a safe take on "Girl From The North Country."

Mark Knopfler, someone else I never really understood or cared for very much, hands in an emotional "Restless Farewell."

I don't know much about Mariachi El Bronx, but I really enjoyed their version of "Love Sick."

There is so much more to digest and I am serious when I say, I can't wait.

I'll be back with Discs I listen.

But right now, "Chimes Of Freedom" is already a class act, only 1/4 of the way in.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mini-review. Can't wait to hear this...only $19.99 on iTunes, si I'll down load it tonight. Sorry to hear about the crappy version of Willie McTell.

BTW...has anyone heard Mick Taylor's studio version of Blind Willie McTell? It's got that classic Taylor phrasing and a big, fat Les Paul tone. Any fans of early 70's Stones would do well to scour the intertubes.



Gyro1966 said...

I'll give this a listen today via Spotify based on your recommendation.

The PopCulturist said...

Thanks for the eval, Sal. (Make a new plan, Stan.) I figured, and reviews have borne out, that it would be a mixed bag, but you make it sound like there's more winners than losers.. Hopefully all the best stuff isn't front-loaded on the first disc.

I respect some of Bettye's lyrical adjustments on some songs, which she says she does to make the song more personal to her (what she does to Lucinda's "Joy" is brilliant), but sometimes she does take a few too many liberties. I'll be interested to hear just what you're talking about in this case.

Here are some of my favorite-ever Dylan covers, while we're sort of on the subject:
Dion- Farewell
Jason and the Scorchers - Absolutely Sweet Marie
Fairport Convention - Million Dollar Bash and Si Tu Dois Partir (aka If You Gotta Go, Go Now), both on the mighty Unhalfbricking
Staples Singers - John Brown
Jimi Hendrix - Like a Rolling Stone
Everly Brothers - Abandoned Love
Chicago Mass Choir - Pressing On on Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan comp (several others on there are great, too)
I know I could think of several more, but the all-time cover to end all covers is:

The Roots - Masters of War. Which interpolates The Star Spangled Banner and Jimi Hendrix' Machine Gun! Beyond genius. Bootlegged, not officially released. There are two recordings of it, actually, the second one was from the "I'm Not There: The Concert" and is a few minutes longer, but the first time they did it is the better version. In the public interest, I have uploaded it here:

Enjoy, everyone! You are very welcome. (Have you heard this, Sal?)

Sal Nunziato said...


I have heard The Roots and I couldn't agree more. Unreal! Thanks for posting.

As for other covers, while we're talking about Fairport...I could listen to their "Percy's Song" for double the already 7 minutes it runs. It always puts me in a trance.

Scott said...

I listened to most of this yesterday also, and of course, Sal's right. There's s few uninspired duds here, but the good ones more than make up for it. Gotta love it when another artist can make you notice a song by one of your idols that you never noticed before!

steves said...

First I've heard about this, but it sounds pretty intriguing...despite the fact that Dylan cover projects have a somewhat notorious rep.

And, I could be wrong, but I think Mariachi El Bronx is a David Hildalgo side project.

FD13NYC said...

I listened (and mostly skimmed) through this also, (downloaded it for free thank god). I've got to say, there are too many uninspired duds here.

Yes I understand that artists covering other artists in their own style could be somewhat listenable sometimes, and sometimes pretty good. But if you're going to cover Dylan, do it right. Not everyone could cover someone and make it sound good.

PopCulturist listed a few of the good ones, and there are more. Just not on this overblown, atrocious waste of time.

Anyway, excuse me while I empty my recycle bin.

Leon said...

I bought it yesterday and am really enjoying it. Agreed about 'Changing of The Guards' - what a clunky song originally, yech, but in this new Gaslight cover - wow!

Great collection.

Sal Nunziato said...

"Just not on this overblown, atrocious waste of time."

Jeez FD13NYC. 4 CDs for $20, with proceeds going to fight for human rights seems pretty okay to me.

What IS doing a Dylan cover "right," anyway?

And STEVES, there is a Hidalgo on Mariachi El Bronx, but it's Vincent not David.

FD13NYC said...

I would rather give the $20 to fight human rights than have (or keep these CDs).

Doing a Dylan cover right, or any cover for that matter means having it pleasing to the ear. Most, or nearly all of this dreck to me was not. Sorry, IMHO.

Sal Nunziato said...


Got it.

Scott said...

I can almost understand FD's position-after you've heard the Master's version so many times, it can be difficult to wrap your arms around a new, or different take on it. But I just look at it as a bonus-some of the greatest songs ever written given new life by different artists. They don't always work for some of us, but that's OK. And besides, FD, if you downloaded them for free, you don't really have a reason to complain.

charlie c. said...

I just picked this up on a whim at Starbucks, next to nothing (about three latte's worth . . .) but they are featuring the 2 cd version. Who knew?!?
So . . . Amazon or iTunes, I suppose. Would be cool to just purchase something for the sake of having it without the "Fighting human rights abuse world wide" or, my personal favorite -- a portion of the proceeds go to cleaning up the Allegheny River . . .