Tag Archive for 'Bob Dylan'

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AlmostAGhost 2012 Review: Chimes Of Freedom – Songs Of Bob Dylan (disc three)

Songs Of Bob Dylan

there's beauty in that silver singin' river

Back for more! This disc looks even odder than disc two did, at first glance. A reminder: you can listen to the whole collection for free here (or purchase it if so inclined).

1. K’naan “With God On Our Side”: A few years ago, K’naan released a cool trilogy remix project, where he remixed the music of Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, and Bob Dylan. So he clearly knows Dylan, and it is great to get some rap/hiphop on this collection. K’naan impressively and effortlessly switches between his own rapped verses and singing Dylan’s verses of “With God On Our Side.” This might be the best track of all 3 discs yet. Dylan is an underappreciated influence on rap, and when a slow folk song like “With God On Our Side” fits so perfectly, that says a lot.

2. Ximena Sariñana “I Want You”: Ximena is a young Mexican singer (and soap actress). She gives “I Want You” a slight electro pop pulse. Fine.

3. Neil Finn with Pajama Club “She Belongs To Me”: You probably know Neil Finn from Crowded House, and this is his new band. I am surprised by the intensity of this, I was expecting something more laidback.

Neil Finn and Pajama Club “She Belongs To Me”

4. Bryan Ferry “Bob Dylan’s Dream”: Not long ago, Ferry put out an album entirely of Dylan covers himself. And before that his solo career has been full of them throughout the years too. I will say though, doing “Bob Dylan’s Dream” seems totally at odds to Ferry’s glam/suave style. It’s a quiet wistful song reminiscing about childhood friends. Not awful, but I can find you at least 10 covers of Dylan that Ferry has released I like better. (That’s another post entirely, I guess.)

5. Zee Avi “Tomorrow Is A Long Time”: This song sets an impossibly high bar, as it is one of my very favorites, and because this cover exists. I was not aware of Zee Avi, but I gather that she got famous on YouTube and is a Malaysian ukulele player. Her voice is solid, but I’m finding that riff she’s playing to be grating.

6. Carly Simon “Just Like A Woman”: well done, I guess.

7. Flogging Molly “The Times, They Are A-Changin'”: Celtic punk rock. “The Times, They Are A-Changin'” The first verse is done like an Irish jig, and I wish the whole song were like that, instead of the loud punk section that hammers any subtlety of the song right out.

8. Fistful Of Mercy “Buckets Of Rain”: Fistful Of Mercy is George Harrison’s son Dhani’s band. Slide guitarist Ben Harper is also in it (and does a great job here). I don’t like group vocals for this song, which is Fistful Of Mercy’s thing, and it is also way too foot-tapping upbeat. I guess I complained earlier when other Blood On The Tracks covers are done too one-dimensionally sad; this one does not have that problem.

9. Joe Perry “Man Of Peace”: Why am I listening to a Joe Perry solo song? What am I doing here? Why is this happening? Why do I exist? Would it be better or worse if this was Aerosmith?

10. Bad Religion “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”: The hot guitar section of this disc continues with some more soaring punk. By far the best of the run here, which started with Flogging Molly. This song is amazingly versatile, and can probably be performed in every style ever and be cool.

11. My Chemical Romance “Desolation Row (live): Who in their right mind cuts a version of “Desolation Row” and makes it only 3 minutes long? My Chemical Romance is clearly not in their right mind. This is trying my patience.

12. RedOne and Nabil Khayat “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”: RedOne is Lady Gaga’s producer! This, however, is not a pop techno track, it’s a fairly faithful and upbeat version of the song, with acoustic guitars, piano, slide guitars. I can’t help but wish Lady Gaga were singing this though, just to make it even more interesting. Still, not a bad track.

RedOne “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (feat. Nabil Khayat)”

13. Paul Rodgers & Nils Lofgren “Abandoned Love”: We had back into inane classic rock land and find Paul Rodgers doing his best to ruin one of the best and most intense songs Bob Dylan ever wrote. Please read about the song here. The live version written about there circulates, and it’s pretty phenomenal. Dylan never could get a studio version to work right, but fans have that live version: here it is.

14. Darren Criss & Chuck Criss “New Morning”: Um. Darren Criss is on Glee. Chuck Criss is in the band Freelance Whales, who aren’t so bad, though. I assume they are related. Glee! This disc is really freaking strange. The Crisses seem to be having a good time though.

15. Cage The Elephant “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll”: Never been a big fan of Cage The Elephant, but I like the singer’s vocals here, and the bluesy electronic mix. Not bad.

16. Band Of Skulls “It Ain’t Me, Babe”: I had been remembering Band Of Skulls being somewhat hard rocking, but either my memory fails me, or they tamed WAAAAY down to do this song. They try to blues it up, but mostly just feels dreary to me.

17. Sinead O’Connor “Property Of Jesus”: I’ve always kind of liked O’Connor, and I like this, mostly. I wish her vocals were clearer here, though in a way it does give the song a sense of urgency.

18. Ed Roland and The Sweet Tea Project “Shelter From The Storm”: I, I don’t even. Roland is the main songwriter from Collective Soul. Who invited him? Is that better than Aerosmith’s guitarist or worse?

19. Ke$ha “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”: This one got some press when the collection was released. Kesha sings the song, mostly acapella, before some strings join in, noteworthy because she actually breaks into tears while singing the song. And instead of fixing it, she left the moment in the song. Reactions were varied. It’s not an easy listen, that’s for sure, and I guess it depends on if you think it’s real or an act. Or your tolerance for that sort of raw emotion. I can’t imagine listening to this over and over, but I do kind of like it.

20. Kronos Quartet “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”: mostly orchestral version, though it’s barely recognizable. If I hadn’t just heard Ke$ha do it, I would’ve been wondering what song this is. Still an interesting end to a pretty wacky disc…

Disc 3 favorites: K’naan, Neil Finn
Disc 3 least favorites: My Chemical Romance, Ed Roland, Flogging Molly

- almostaghost

AlmostAGhost 2012 Review: Chimes Of Freedom – Songs Of Bob Dylan (disc two)

Tribute To Bob Dylan

lay down the song you strum

The tracklist for this, the second disc, looks very bizarre. I see 4 or 5 older artists, who you would likely expect to be on a Bob Dylan tribute (Joan Baez, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Billy Bragg etc.). But also I see a bunch of female pop singers, from the obvious (Adele) to the intriguing (Natasha Bedingfield) to the WHAT THE FUCK? (Miley Cyrus). This might be really really interesting. Let’s get started!

1. Queens Of The Stone Age “Outlaw Blues”: Shockingly, the “Outlaw Blues” riff does sound like a QOTSA-style riff, so this ends up kind of fun. Not a song you hear covered too often, so that helps a bit too.

2. Lenny Kravitz “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”: Like I said in disc one, if you’re going to do classic Bob Dylan, bring something new to the song, if not your own personality/vibe. This meaningless recreation of the original has no point. Unless you really want to hear Lenny Kravitz’ voice, skip it.

3. Steve Earle & Lucia Micarelli “One More Cup Of Coffee”: Closer to what I’m saying about bringing your own style to a song, but still not quite there. Dylan’s song is a duet with Emmylou Harris, and is highlighted by a violinist. Earle sings Dylan’s part, Micarelli does both Harris and the violin (I think both are her); the template remains basically unchanged. The mood here is a little different, but still, this does not quite reach anything special.

4. Blake Mills & Danielle Haim “Heart Of Mine”: I’m not familiar with Mills or Haim, but their track has some excellent guitar. Is that Mills or Haim? Good one, I’m really liking this version of a relatively obscure song choice. I think I’ll check them out further! Success!

5. Miley Cyrus “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”: Cyrus gives a mostly uninteresting pop country version of a Blood On The Tracks song. Simple. Not much here. I refuse to think harder about this. It exists.

6. Billy Bragg “Lay Down Your Weary Tune”: Following a pop star with Billy Bragg must have been someone at Amnesty’s hilarious idea. His raw folk style fits the mood of this song, and I like the touch of background singers.

7. Elvis Costello “License To Kill”: This disc so far is noteworthy, not necessarily for the great versions, but a steady stream of quite underrated song choices. So far, not your typical oft-covered Dylan songs (those come later in the disc). Anyway, “License To Kill” is an interesting song (“man has invented his doom / the first step was touching the moon”). Diana Krall’s husband completely cuts into it, and the result is a unique funky track. I like it a lot.

8. Angelique Kidjo “Lay, Lady, Lay”: More light funk, but this time with a more African feel from Beninese singer, Angelique Kidjo. Now we’re rolling! Costello and Kidjo really get into the songs and find new angles, which is what I am looking for here.

Angelique Kidjo “Lay, Lady, Lay”

9. Natasha Bedingfield “Ring Them Bells”: Despite Bedingfield kind of oversinging, I liked this. Not much subtlety there, but sometimes that’s ok.

10. Jackson Browne “Love Minus Zero/No Limit”: very professional. Sounds nice, but kind of like it’s some generic studio band churning it out, in that plastic competent way. Where’s the spark of creativity?

11. Joan Baez “Seven Curses”: Dylan’s most famous ex-girlfriend has probably covered 50 Dylan songs over the years. So here’s one more, a rare outtake song. Baez gives a live version of this dramatic folk tale to the cause. Since she’s a dramatic folk singer, it works.

12. The Belle Brigade “No Time To Think”: I didn’t know the Belle Brigade, and Wiki didn’t tell me much about their style. I was not into their song though, their vocals feel a bit too sunny for this song to me, and at 8 minutes long, it was too much.

13. Sugarland “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You (live)”: oh boy, there are not many music styles that I just do not enjoy at all or can’t find someone within good enough to like. But modern Grammy-winning pop country music? That stuff comes close. Blah

14. Jack’s Mannequin “Mr. Tambourine Man”: Jack’s Mannequin is a slightly emo rock band. I don’t think “Mr. Tambourine Man” was probably the right song choice for them, at least lyrically, but the music is an interesting twist from familiar versions of the song. Didn’t expect to like this but I do.

15. Oren Lavie “4th Time Around”: Wiki tells me nothing about Lavie, except he’s from Israel, and his music is only described as “indie” or “songwriter.” Helpful! His version of “4th Time Around” is very cool though, and seems to have lots of dark drone-y instruments (harmoniums, sitar, etc.) which underline the dark humor of the song. Another artist I want to go check out more now.

16. Sussan Deyhim “All I Really Want To Do”: Another person to look up on Wiki–Deyhim is a ballerina and singer from Iran. Here, she takes one of Dylan’s more pop upbeat melodies and kind of similarly to Lavie, turns into something a little darker. This disc is ending much better than it started.

Sussan Deyhim “All I Really Want To Do”

17. Adele “Make You Feel My Love (live)”: It has always amazed me how a song from Time Out Of Mind was discovered by pop stars and been a hit song. Billy Joel and Garth Brooks started it, before heading to Kelly Clarkson and ultimately Adele. It does feel like this was tacked on because Adele is such a big star, and she had the big Dylan cover hit most recently, but you know, here it is.

Disc 2 favorites: Elvis Costello, Oren Lavie, Blake Mills
Disc 2 least favorites: Lenny Kravitz, Sugarland, The Belle Brigade

- almostaghost

AlmostAGhost 2012 Review: Chimes Of Freedom – Songs Of Bob Dylan (disc one)

The Songs Of Bob Dylan

nobody can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell

I consider myself a Bob Dylan fan. A pretty hardcore one. If you ask me what my favorite album ever is, Blood On The Tracks is one of my answers. I have been to his concerts, read his biography, and have every one of his albums on my computer. This is probably not unusual nor particularly insightful, I know. I say it to mean, I feel like I know his songs pretty well. And because of that I have always loved hearing covers of Bob Dylan songs.

There’s millions of Dylan covers, and, sure, few if any are as good as his original. This new release–Chimes Of Freedom–adds 76 more to the world, by many big-time artists. The album, I’ll note, is to celebrate Amnesty International’s 50th anniversary, and proceeds go to charity. It is cheap, and you can order it here if you so desire (you can also listen to it all at that link for free).

With that said, I’m going to liveblog going through this collection. I don’t know how long this will end up, or if all 76 tracks will be worth a mention, or what. But let’s dive in!

1. Johnny Cash & The Avett Brothers “One Too Many Mornings”: Not sure where this recording of Cash came from, though I know he’s covered this song a few times. Whatever it is, the Avett Brothers jump on it and sing along with Cash and why? I’m not clear what they really bring to the table, can’t it just be Cash? The song becomes a bit too upbeat country for my tastes. It’s actually a pretty mournful song, one of Dylan’s most underrated bests.

2. Raphael Saadiq “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”: R&B/soul is a genre of sincerity, for the most part. Marvin Gaye only makes sense if you believe he really wants to get it on, right? “Leopard-Skin” though is kind of droll bluesy comedy, and has a sense of disbelief to it that doesn’t particularly fit an R&B/soul singer like Saadiq. He sounds a lot like Prince here, and there is some cool guitar playing, so not a total wash.

3. Patti Smith “Drifter’s Escape”: While this doesn’t have the energy of classic Patti Smith, it does sound amazing. Despite her raw reputation, she’s also really good at telling stories, and that’s what “Drifter’s Escape” is (as is all of John Wesley Harding). A sharp combination of singer and song here, really dug this.

4. Rise Against “Ballad Of Hollis Brown”: This folk song has always surprised me how adaptable it is, as there are some great blues, funk, and soul versions out there (Nina Simone, for example). This screamed punk rock one, though, I would happily ignore (though I will credit, they seem to get the drama of the song correct).

5. Tom Morello The Nightwatchman “Blind Willie McTell”: If you aren’t aware, Rage Against The Machine’s guitarist, Tom Morello, has found a second life as a folk musician. Woody Guthrie and Rage aren’t as far apart as it may seem! Dylan’s in that spectrum too, somewhere, I guess. Not bad, this, but I don’t love Morello’s growl of a voice here. “McTell” is a unique and strangely beautiful song; I get none of that from this version. (PS. Rage’s “Maggie Farm” is my favorite Dylan cover ever.)

6. Pete Townshend “Corrina, Corrina”: I definitely like hearing Townshend acoustic and folky sometimes. Though his harmonica-playing is not nearly as good as Dylan’s, that’s for certain (or whoever plays that here).

7. Betty Lavette “Most Of The Time”: torch soul singer jumps in on one of Dylan’s most soulful and beautiful songs (“I don’t compromise / I don’t pretend / I don’t even care if I ever see her again / Most of the time”). Cool. What I said about sincerity and soul not fitting for Saadiq & “Leopard-Skin” actually fits here. The lyrics get slightly lost beyond her voice, but minor quibble. I love this song.

Bettye Lavette “Most Of The Time”

8. Charlie Winston “This Wheel’s On Fire”: I’ve never heard of Winston before this. He fills the song up fairly well, but it seems like How To Cover A Dylan Song 101. Nothing particularly new or engaging to it.

9. Diana Krall “Simple Twist Of Fate”: Blood On The Tracks covers are extremely tough to pull off. People usually just play the songs as super sad/heartbroken. But Dylan’s songs on that album have so many other angles buried in them, and those depths are usually ignored. (Or more likely, other artists can’t reach them.) Elvis Costello’s wife plays the song with a dreamy, foggy sadness. I do not like this take on the song, as I think that clarity is a big part of the memories in the song, and a necessary part. Instead of “my memories of the past,” the song becomes “here’s some stuff that might have happened in the past.” In other words, a lot fuzzier, and less effective. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it does in my head. 🙂

10. Brett Dennen “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”: I don’t know Dennen, but if this is what he usually sounds like (jaunty child-like folk), “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” was a natural choice. Most covers of this song sound just like this.

11. Mariachi El Bronx “Love Sick”: whoa, what?! MEB, a punk band called The Bronx who decided to start making Mariachi-infused music, and “Love Sick” is absolutely an odd choice for that sound. It is a song of a man haunted by his past, shadowy and destroyed, head down, which is kind of at odds with the more extroverted mariachi/punk styles. That said, I dug this, for the surprise. I never would have thought this could work at all. Very cool!

Mariachi El Bronx “Love Sick”

12. Ziggy Marley “Blowin’ In The Wind”: genrehopping continues with some reggae.

13. The Gaslight Anthem “Changing Of The Guards”: I don’t know them, but based on this, their sound reminds me of Rise Against from earlier. Perhaps a bit less punk, but still a full-sounding clean rock band. This is a much better fit of a song than Rise Against picked. Gaslight’s singer seems good, but the track is mostly forgettable.

14. Silversun Pickups “Not Dark Yet”: I really liked the moody atmospheric music on this version of the song, one of Dylan’s most moody and atmospheric. However, I did not feel the singer at all. This is a song for which you need to have years of life experience to sing effectively. This guy clearly does not.

15. My Morning Jacket “You’re A Big Girl Now”: nice. Jim James can kill at emotion when he tries for it. Loved when the slide guitar gets in there, and cries as well. Great recording.

16. The Airborne Toxic Event “Boots Of Spanish Leather”: not bad. Amazing how a cool Dylan song done with care can turn a boring band interesting.

17. Sting “Girl From The North Country” & 18. Mark Knopfler “Restless Farewell”: I wonder if the Amnesty people put the Money For Nothing duo back to back on purpose? Knopfler is better at adopting other sounds and styles than Sting is, and I like his classy track. It seems infused with a bit of Irish sounds, as well as some folk and rock. Sting sounds like he’s faking it, pretending to be a Scottish folk singer or something.

Hmm this is already getting long and probably unreadable and I’m only at the end of disc one. I’ll make the other discs their own posts over the next few days!

Disc One was pretty good, I’d say, nothing truly terrible, and enough different genres to be entertaining that way. So far, enjoyable trip into Dylan-land.

Disc One favorites: Patti Smith, Mariachi El Bronx.

Disc One least favorites: Sting, Tom Morello.

- almostaghost

Life In Mixtape Form #35

Life In Mixtape Form #35 from almostaghost on 8tracks.

Thanks to Mint for updating the blog look, looks awesome! Here’s my last 8 songs-of-the-day mix!

- almostaghost

Life In Mixtape Form #31

In case you’re new here by reading end-of-the-year reviews (next one shortly), we also, as you can see, like to make mixes. Breathmint makes some, I have a couple of regular series going on. This one is where every night I pick a sort of “song of the day,” and after eight days, I have enough to share it on 8tracks.com. It ends up like my whole life gets filtered into a mixtape. Play them all in order! Psychoanalyze my choices if you’d like! 😀

- almostaghost

Life In Mixtape Form #20

Ah number 20! I’m impressed with myself that I stuck it out this long without ever feeling like my choices are overly repetitive. I could easily pick a Bob Dylan song to symbolize every single day, but I try not to go there. Hehe

- almostaghost

Life In Mixtape Form #19

What, 8 days already? End of the month too, so the new music mix will also be posted in an hour or two. 🙂

- almostaghost

Life In Mixtape Form #12

A fun 8 days… I took a trip up to Canada, returned. Was there for Canada Day, and not here for the Fourth Of July. Started to write a post about 2011 in music but it wasn’t turning out how I wanted, so I scrubbed it. I’ll just note that my list of all-time favorite artists almost entirely consists of people who have happened to put out new music this year (hey, Beck, keep up, thx).

So 2011 has been fun, but also a little odd — I haven’t found too much brand new, and while there’s lots I liked so far, there’s not many that I think are that artist’s best ever (a few exceptions: Gillian Welch, The Kills). But, then, does that really matter? I try not to overly compare new stuff to old stuff, but sometimes, when you know an artist really well, it’s inevitable.

Anyway, some artists that were unknown to me before this year and I now dig:

Oh Land
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
Lia Ices
Anna Calvi
Cut Copy
The Antlers
Disappears
Frank Ocean

- almostaghost

Life In Mixtape Form #9

Not sure why, but this week’s LIMF mix ended up consisting of a number of the legends of the musical game. Not necessarily their most famous (or even best) songs, but they are certainly undeniable.

- almostaghost

Life In Mixtape Form #7

Hello, here is my next LIMF mix. Hope everyone has a nice long weekend, and relaxes. Got a couple of post ideas to write for here, and a couple of non-LIMF mix ideas too. Now I have a bit more time, I may get on those.

- almostaghost