I expected this album to introduce me to brand new music and remind me of past favourites. It delivered and then some. I would (and have) recommend it to a friend.
Dylan is the standard in my mind for several of the tracks on the collection. Dylan's original recording of Gotta Serve Somebody remains as my preferred version. The Eric Burdon cover is fantastic and stands alongside Dylan. Similar can be said for the Jeff Beck and Seal offering of Like a Rolling Stone. This is my favourite Dylan song (cliché alert), so I was a bit nervous before hearing the Chimes of Freedom version. The cover doesn't displace the original, but does stand up and will find its way to Windows Media Player playlists often.
Chimes of Freedom replaces Dylan as the standard a couple of times. Flogging Molly's The Times They Are-A Changin' is the best version of this song I have ever heard. Sinead O'Connor also impressed me with Property of Jesus. I always imagined Dylan giving a bit of a wink when he originally recorded the track. O'Connor's seems a bit frustrated and even angry. The tone of the song is interesting alongside its lyrics. I think what makes Flogging Molly and O'Connor stand out is that they make the songs their own without straying too far from what Dylan originally did. They are certainly not copying him, but they don't seem pressured to change the song so drastically that it is unrecognizable. The collection also introduced my to some songs I didn't know at all. Natasha Bedingfield's Ring Them Bells, Carolina Chocolate Drops' Political World, Queens of the Stone Age's Outlaw Blues, and Raphael Saadiq's Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat are my favourite of the songs in this category.
Burdon, QOTSA and Saadiq also illustrate how often I found myself attracted to the blues-tinged songs. This didn't surprise me. Time Out of Mind and Modern Times are my favourite Dylan albums and each has more a blues feel to it. Tom Morello's Willie McTell and Rise Against's Hollis Brown are worth a listen.
Chimes of Freedom is my second Amnesty International tribute. I greatly preferred this to Instant Karma, the collection of John Lennon covers. The Dylan combination seems more cohesive as a unit. Most of the songs lead from one to another. A few heavier tracks, like My Chemical Romance, and alt offerings by Silversun Pickups and Daniel Bedingfield interrupt the flow at times, but are still very good and aren't so shocking that they throw you off. While the Lennon tribute includes some great tracks (Working Class Hero, Mother, Beautiful Boy), I never felt that it worked as an album. Chimes of Freedom does.