Album: Various artists, Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan (Universal/Amnesty)
Sunday 05 February 2012
The temptation to cover the work of Bob Dylan has proven irresistible to successive generations of artists, so it's no surprise that this album – compiled to honour 50 years of Amnesty International – runs to 72 tracks and four discs.
Listening to them all, in one sitting, often feels like enduring the sort of human-rights abuse in which Amnesty would be interested, with a large contingent of nobodies and never-heard-ofs (Fistful of Mercy? Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project?), whose common fault is to treat the source material with too much respect.
Likewise, pop gonks such as Kesha and Miley Cyrus are way out of their depths here. The most stunning vocal performance, by several miles, is by Bettye Lavette on "Most of the Time". Bob's no great vocalist himself, but you find yourself craving just one nasal "aaah!" from him to cut through the morass like a shark's fin. Dazzling songs, dismally sung.
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