"Hopefully all the best stuff isn't front-loaded on the first disc."
-The Pop Culturist
About halfway through Disc Two, The Pop Culturist's comment came to mind. There are a lot of clunkers on Disc Two, and I began to doubt that his hopes would ring true. I quickly regrouped when I realized how much music was left, and made the decision to forge ahead and do it all.
"Chimes Of Freedom" is a superb collection of music, by an amazingly diverse roster of artists, singing some of the greatest songs in the history of music. It's $20. You just can't go wrong. Just think of Disc Two as Zeppo or Fredo.
Carly Simon- Just Like A Woman
She makes Dylan's version sound like the "Beer Barrel Polka." This is lifeless, and Carly trying to do Dylan is about as charmless as Kenneth Branagh trying to do Woody in "Celebrity."
Elvis Costello- License To Kill
I'm a fan through and through, right down to "The Juliet Letters" and the Bacharach album. But, old El employs his wheezy falsetto, last heard on his cover of "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away," or maybe more recently than that. I can't recall. I just know, it's my least fave Costello trick in his book and it ruins this version.
Cage The Elephant- The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
Again, like Silversun Pickups on Disc One, this seems intentionally horrible. I don't understand the entertainment value in songs where the musicians deliberately make the tune unrecognizable or in this case, creepy and annoying. I'm not saying playing it straight is any better. See next entry...
Jackson Browne- Love Minus Zero/No Limit
This neither adds nor subtracts from the original. I guess it really isn't a loser as much as it's a snoozer.
Dave Matthews- All Along The Watchtower
This was recorded live in 1995. I don't like Dave. I never have, but I'll save that rant for another time. The man can't even speak the intro to the song unaffectedly. "Theea son bah bar dealin." (That should read, "This is a song by Bob Dylan.) Putz. Just awful and pretentious.
Ke$ha- Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Plea$e! Huge mega-pop $tar make$ big mi$take. Unli$tenable. And don't call me old. Thi$'d be awful if I wa$ 23.
There are some artists who simply didn't cut it for me, though I wouldn't necessarily call them losers.
I'm not gonna hate on Lenny Kravitz like so many love to do, but his "Rainy Day Women" seems throwaway at best. It's not that the arrangement is terrible. The New Orleansian horn parts are a nice touch. It's just that you can hear Lenny's boredom loud and clear. (Well, I can.)
I generally love Steve Earle, but his duet with "Treme" co-star Lucia Micarelli is a bit abrasive, and I'll blame that on Steve's delivery. I'm just not digging it. Seal & Jeff Beck both do a fine job with "Like A Rolling Stone," but I think I only ever need to hear Bob's version. Miley Cyrus isn't really a winner, but she does a much better job at feeling her song, "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome" than some of the veterans on this collection do at feeling theirs, like Bryan Ferry, Neil Finn (who I rarely say anything bad about,) Taj Mahal, and Mick Hucknall. Miley's entry works. I didn't take it off like I did with three of the aforementioned four. (I let Neil's Pajama Club finish since I loved their album so much.
Paul Rodgers & Nils Lofgren- Abandoned Love
Hands down, my favorite thing on the collection. As much as I love Airborne Toxic Event's "Boots Of Spanish Leather," these two musical vets really handed in something special. Their voices seem made for each other. The arrangement is breezy and soulful, and it simultaneously tears your heart in two. There has to be an album in the future for Paul and Nils, even if it's the same ten versions of "Abandoned Love."
Joan Baez- Seven Curses
Joan doing Joan, better than ever. It's simple and gorgeous and it works.
Oren Lavie- 4th Time Around
Wow! Who the hell is this guy? Israeli pop singer with one album under his belt, that's who. But what a track! Soft and psychedelic. Dreamy and intense. This is a killer.
Fistful Of Mercy- Buckets Of Mercy
Dhani Harrison, Joseph Arthur and Ben Harper play it safe, but add some life, especially with the George Harrison-inspired slide. Very nice.
Joe Perry- Man Of Peace
Nothing much different than what you'd expect from this hard rock legend, but it works. It's solid, and Perry, who's not known for his singing voice, does a great job both on vocals and with his guitar. Again, it nice to hear some life in this music, and not some moody indie bullshit.
Bad Religion- It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
You need to hear this one to believe it. The energy is insane. It's a thrasher and still, it doesn't disrespect Bob or The Byrds.
Some other really nice takes include Glee alumnus Darren Criss and his brother Chuck on a very Poco-inspired "New Morning," Queens Of The Stone Age and the best thing they've ever done, with "Outlaw Blues," Sinead O'Connor's "Property Of Jesus," which reminds us that she was once someone to pay attention to, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops and their hoedown on "Political World."
That leaves a little more than half I didn't mention at all. Maybe you guys can weigh in with the good and bad of what I missed. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
In the meantime, check this out:
My heart is a-tellin' me I love ya still.
I can see the turning of the key
I've been deceived by the clown inside of me.
I thought that he was righteous but he's vain
Oh, something's a-telling me I wear the ball and chain.
My patron saint is fighting with a ghost
He's always off somewhere when I need him most.
The Spanish moon is rising on the hill
But my heart is tellin' me I love ya still.
I come back to the town from the flaming moon
I see you in the streets, I begin to swoon.
I love to see you dress before the mirror
Won't you let me in your room one time 'fore I finally disappear?
Everybody's wearing a disguise
To hide what they've got left behind their eyes.
But me, I can't cover what I am
Wherever the children go I'll follow them.
I march in the parade of liberty
But as long as I love you I'm not free.
How long must I suffer such abuse
Won't you let me see you smile one time before I turn you loose?
I've given up the game, I've got to leave,
The pot of gold is only make-believe.
The treasure can't be found by men who search
Whose gods are dead and whose queens are in the church.
We sat in an empty theater and we kissed,
I asked ya please to cross me off-a your list.
My head tells me it's time to make a change
But my heart is telling me I love ya but you're strange.
One more time at midnight, near the wall
Take off your heavy make-up and your shawl.
Won't you descend from the throne, from where you sit?
Let me feel your love one more time before I abandon it.