Chimes of Freedom was brought out to celebrate 50 years of Amnesty International and is made up of seventy-six Bob Dylan covers. Proceeds made from sales of the album are going towards the charity.
A diverse range of artists contributed to the album, from pop-queen Kesha, to 92 year-old folk singer Pete Seeger.
Even to diehard Dylan fans there are many tracks which will be well received. Some of the younger artists have used styles Dylan never approached and this puts the songs in an interesting new light.
Two of the more surprising artists to be featured are Miley Cyrus and Kesha, who produced recordings which are pleasant to listen to, and are filled with what certainly seems like genuine emotion. Kesha is audibly moved to tears as she sings ‘Don’t Think Twice It’ All Right’ with very little instrumental backing.
However, putting the famous faces who cover Dylan aside, it is Dylan himself who shines through in this album. That his songs – many written 50 odd years ago – sound as relevant today as ever just goes to show why Dylan was such a deserving favourite for the Nobel Literature Prize last year. The Dylan songs featured on the album are varied, and from across his career, but many carry the “protest movement” sentiment that made him “the spokesman for his generation”. I allude to, as an example, Knaan’s cover of ‘With God On Our Side’ where he chants “The confusion I’m feeling /Ain’t no tongue can tell/The words fill my head/ And fall to the floor/ If God’s on your side then would you ever need war”.
Of course it doesn’t take a massive album like this to prove that Dylan’s words are as enchanting today as ever. Last year Adele made a Dylan song number one with her hit version of ‘To Make You Feel My Love’. However, the album also demonstrates that Dylan can penetrate the boundaries of all genres and you will notice the tracks range from folk to rap, from hiphop to blues, from rock to electronica.
Already some critics have decided that some of the covers are lousy and pin this on the artists not being sufficiently inspired. But I applaud all of them for taking part because covering someone as unique as Dylan was never going to be easy.
Dylan was rather good at responding to criticism. When he was heckled in Manchester and accused of being “Judas” for going electric, he simply replied “I don’t believe you”, before directing his band to “play it fucking loud!”.