Almanac Music: Dylan Cover Songs – Aussie Style

 

Dylan cover songs – Aussie style

 

Over the past few years, I have been delving into covers of Dylan songs. Along the way, I have uncovered over 100 Australian albums that have included one or more Dylan covers.

 

In this, the first of a series of articles showcasing ‘Dylan cover songs – Aussie style’, I look at 10 of the more obscure Aussie artists or albums that have ventured into Dylan’s anthology.  Sometimes, it is the back story or side story that makes for the most interesting insight.

 

Where songs referred to in the article are available on ‘You Tube’, the relevant video clip is provided.  Unfortunately, given the ‘oldness’ or lack of commercial success of certain songs, there is no ‘You Tube’ video, so only a copy of the relevant album cover is provided.

 

 

1964 – Trevor Lucas: See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

 

 

 

 

Side 1, track 5: ‘World War Three Talking Blues’

 

Dylan released ‘Talking World War III Blues’ on his May 1963 Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album.

 

Trevor’s version of ‘Talking World War III Blues’ is one of only four cover versions of the song and the only English-speaking cover version of this song recorded in a studio setting.  Interestingly, the title of the Trevor’s album ‘See That My Grave Is Kept Clean’ comes from a 1927 song by Blind Lemon Johnson, which was covered by Dylan on his self-titled 1962 debut album.

 

Trevor was born in Epworth Hospital, Richmond, Vic in December 1943. In late 1964 (after the release of the abovementioned album), Trevor found his way to England where he recorded his most well known album – ‘Overlander’ – in 1966.

 

Trevor was briefly a member of UK folk group Fairport Convention – playing triangle on ‘Si Tu Dois Partir’ (a Dylan cover of ‘If You Gotta Go, Go Now’ – sung in French). Trevor along with Sandy Denny (who he was married to between 1973-1978) founded Fotheringay in 1970 and the band released one self-titled album, which included an original song by Trevor titled ‘The Ballad Of Ned Kelly’ – which has a chorus that sounds achingly like Dylan’s ‘You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere’.

 

Trevor returned to Australia in 1979 with his 13 month old daughter Georgia Rose after Sandy’s unfortunate death. Trevor died in Sydney in February 1989 at the relatively young age of 45.

 

For those interested, Trevor’s 1982 ‘Live At The Troubador’ (Melbourne) performance was released posthumously in April 2010.  The album contained two Dylan covers: track 11 – ‘I Threw It All Away’; and fittingly, the final track 17 – ‘Forever Young’.

 

 

1964 – Gary Shearston: Songs Of Our Time

 

 

 

 

Gary covers three Dylan songs on this album: Side 1, Track 2: ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’; Side 1, Track 6: ‘Who Killed Davey Moore?’; Side 2, Track 1: ‘Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’.

 

Dylan released ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ and ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ on his May 1963 Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album. ‘Who Killed Davey Moore?’ was an outtake from the album and only released (officially) on the 1991 Bootleg Series Vol 1-3 (Rare and Unreleased).

 

Gary was born in Inverell, NSW in 1939. Between 1964–1967, Gary recorded several albums – mostly on ‘Australiana’ themes, including several songs promoting Aboriginal rights and freedom. ‘Songs Of Our Time’ was Gary’s second album and the only one to include covers from US folk singers – three by Dylan and Pete Seeger’s ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’.

 

At the invitation of Peter, Paul and Mary, he spent four years (1968-1971) on the East Coast of the USA. In 1972, Gary went to London where he recorded his best known album Dingo – an album that included his 1974 UK top 7 and Australian top 19 hit ‘I Get A Kick Out Of You’.

 

Gary returned to Australia in the late ’80s and then served as a cleric, deacon and priest in the Anglican church in rural NSW until 2006. In 2010, at the age of 71, Gary returned to the recording studio for one final album – Renegade. Gary died at Armidale in July 2013, aged 74.

 

 

1972 – Duck: Laid

 

 

 

 

Side 2, track 1: ‘The Man In Me’

 

Dylan released this song on his October 1970 New Morning album.

 

Duck was an Australian ‘supergroup’ that formed and disbanded in 1972 due to lack of commercial success – and from a listen to the album, that is not surprising.

 

Apart from the Dylan track, the album includes covers of ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’; ‘Southern Man’; ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’; ‘Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress’ and Frank Zappa’s ‘Dog Breath’.

 

There are certainly some icons of Australian rock history in the line up of this ‘supergroup’: John Robinson (Blackfeather) – guitar; Jon English – vocals; Larry Duryea-Taylor (Tamam Shud) – percussion; Russell Smith (Company Caine) – guitar; Teddy Toi (The Aztecs) – bass.

 

The album was produced by G Wayne Thomas of ‘Morning Of The Earth’ fame.

 

1975 – Joe Hasham: Hasham…

 

 

 

 

Side 1, track 2: ‘Blowin In The Wind’

 

Dylan released ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ on his May 1963 Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album.

 

Joe was born in Tripoli, Lebanon in September 1948, although by 1968 his family was well established in Australia and Joe had completed studies at NIDA, Sydney. Joe was an original cast member of the TV soap Number 96, which ran between 1972–1977, and is best remembered as playing the role of gay lawyer Don Finlayson in all 600 episodes. Number 96 was the world’s first soap opera to screen in prime time five nights a week and canvassed a wide range of ‘taboo’ subjects at the time – a theme well worthy of a separate article.

 

The album ‘Hasham’ was Joe’s only album and his popularity saw it peak at No. 27 on the Australian charts. Other notable songs on the album are: ‘Father And Son’; ‘Sad Lisa’; ‘House Of The Rising Sun’; ‘Have You Ever Been Mellow’ and ‘Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear’.

 

 

1976 – Denise Drydale: Denise

 

 

 

 

Side 2, track 3: ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’

 

Dylan released this song on his December 1967 John Wesley Harding album.

 

Denise was born in December 1948 in Moorabbin, Vic but spent most of her pre-adult years in Port Melbourne where her parents ran the Fountain Inn Hotel. Denise began her TV career in 1956 as a dancer in the junior ballet on The Tarax Show, but after about 18 months was ‘sacked’ for gaining weight and developing breasts. Denise has remained on our TV screen ever since and until very recently has been seen each weekday as co-host of Studio 10.

 

Denise is affectionately remembered as ‘Ding Dong’ on the Ernie Sigley Show (1974-1976). In 1974, Denise and Ernie had a No. 2 Australian chart hit with ‘Hey Paula’.

 

 

1976 – Reg Livermore: Wonder Woman

 

 

 

 

Side 1, track 4: ‘Lay Lady Lay’

 

Dylan released this song on his April 1969 Nashville Skyline album.

 

Reg was born in Parramatta in December 1938. He hit the limelight and the spotlight in 1970 when he took over the role of Berger in the theatrical production of Hair. His subsequent early to mid 70’s theatrical roles included: King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar and Dr Frank’n’Furter in The Rocky Horror Show. In 1975, Reg conceived and starred in his first one-man show Betty Blokk-Buster Follies.  The soundtrack of this production peaked at no.15 on the Australian charts.

 

In 1976, Reg wrote and performed in Wonder Woman – and this is where the above album fits into the scheme of things. Other notable songs on the Wonder Woman Soundtrack are: ‘White Rabbit’; ‘The More I See You’; and ‘Space Oddity’

 

 

1981 – Tooth’s Hotel Presents Footy Favourites

 

 

 

 

I must say that this album has been the most exciting ‘discovery’ in my Dylan ‘cover song’ research. For lovers of rugby league, the album cover is an historic record of itself – revealing that time before ‘super league’/forced mergers/national expansion/excessive commercialism. Rugby League was simple back then – just 12 Sydney based sides with all six games played on Saturday and Sunday; and the furthest one had to travel to see a game was about 2 hours by train – from Penrith to Cronulla (both clubs joined the league in 1967).

 

This album contains Eric Grothe’s version of ‘The Letter’ which was a minor hit in its day – and the only track off the album available via YouTube.

 

As for the album’s inclusion in a Dylan cover song list – here’s why…

 

Side 1, track 4: ‘Quinn The Eskimo’  *** sung by Mitch Brennan (St George winger) – unfortunately, this is not available on You Tube or anywhere else, it seems.

 

Dylan wrote and recorded ‘The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)’ in 1967, during his Woodstock/Basement Tapes hiatus from the public eye. He eventually released the song on his June 1970 Self Portrait album, but by then it had become an international hit (UK/NZ No.1; Can No.3; Aus No. 8 and US No. 10) for Manfred Mann.

 

Now there is an intriguing history to Mitch Brennan playing for St George – however that is best left for another article. Suffice to say, that his selection of ‘Quinn The Eskimo’ on this album is a direct reference to his St George centre team mate Graeme Quinn. They were both important members of the St George team that two years previously (1979) had won the premiership – the 15th in St George’s illustrious history and the last as a stand alone team.

 

 

1983 – Sister Janet Mead: Brand New World

 

 

 

 

Side 2; track 5: ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’

 

Dylan released this song on his February 1964 The Times They Are A-Changin’ album.

 

Janet was born in Adelaide in 1937. In the early ’70s, Sister Janet’s interest in music and her desire to make Mass more interesting and accessible to her students, led her to explore the ‘Rock Mass’ concept. This led to the recording of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ in 1973 – a song that was an international success, reaching the top 10 in Australia, New Zealand, Canada US, Brazil, Japan and Germany. The song also has the distinction of being the only top 10 hit with the lyricist being Jesus Christ. Janet was nominated for a Grammy for ‘Best Inspirational Performance’ (although she lost to Elvis Presley’s ‘How Great Thou Art’). I believe I speak for all Aussies in saying ‘we wuz robbed!’.

 

The Brand New Day album also featured other mainstream songs such as: ‘Morning Has Broken’; ‘The Sound Of Silence’; ‘Turn Turn Turn’; ‘Day By Day’.

 

As per her calling, Janet devoted her life to the Catholic Church and shunned the entertainment world as the worldwide success had led her to question her faith. She released three albums between 1974–1983, although the third album Brand New World was repackaged in 1999 as A Time To Sing. Janet died in Adelaide on 26 January 2022 at the age of 84.

 

 

2013 – The Wiggles: Furry Tails

 

 

 

 

Track 25: ‘Man Gave Names To All the Animals’

 

Dylan released this song on his August 1979 Slow Train Coming album.

 

‘The Wiggles’ – the name speaks for itself, so no background required here, other than….formed in 1991 by ex-Cockroaches members Anthony Field, Murray Cook, Greg Page and Jeff Flat. The Wiggles wrote songs for children in honour of Field’s infant niece, who had died of SIDS. They even took The Cockroaches ‘Hot Tamale’ and converted it into ‘Hot Potato’. The band’s debut performance was in 1991 at a day care centre for a dozen kids…and thus, from little things big things grow. To date, The Wiggles have released over 60 studio albums, earned over 20 Gold records, performed (on average) to one million people per year, and their music has received over one billion streams on digital services.

 

In 2012, original members Murray Cook, Greg Page and Jeff Flat retired from the group and were replaced by ‘new Wiggles’ Simon Price, Emma Watkins and Lachlan Gillespie. And so it came to be that on their 37th studio album, Furry Tails, band members (old and new) contributed 22 of the 25 songs. The remaining three songs were: the traditional song ‘Five Little Ducks’; track 11 ‘Okiaan Aka Skokiaan’ by US folksinger Tom Glazer; and to close off the album, the final track was Dylan’s ‘Man Gave Names To All The Animal’…which says everything that needs to be said.

 

 

2016 – ‘Absolutely Fabulous – The Movie Soundtrack

 

 

 

 

Opening track 1: ‘This Wheels On Fire’ – performed by Kylie Minogue

 

‘This Wheel’s On Fire’ was co-written by Bob Dylan and Rick Danko (The Band) in 1967. Dylan released his version of the song on his belated June 1975 Basement Tapes album; while The Band released their own version on their 1968 Music From Big Pink album.

 

The 5 series/39 episode Absolutely Fabulous aired on BBC TV between 1992-1996 and 2001-2004. The theme song for the series was ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’, performed by Julie Driscoll and Adrian Edmondson (spouse of Jennifer Saunders & cast member of The Young Ones). In fact, Julie Driscoll had a No. 5 UK hit in 1968 with her original recording of the song.

 

In a surprise twist, when the soundtrack for Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie was produced, it was our own Kylie Minogue who was invited to perform ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’…and a wise choice it was…and perhaps the only time in Kylie’s long and distinguished recording career that she has turned her voice towards the Dylan anthology.

 

 

 

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About Karl Dubravs

I was born in 1956 to Latvian parents who migrated to Australia in the late 1940's following WWII. My career was mostly in Human Resources within University and Public Service settings & allowed me to work & live in Sydney, Cabramurra (Australia's highest township), Townsville, Bathurst, Canberra & Shellharbour. I have now left paid employment & settled in the Blue Mountains. My true passion, ever since I was 16, has been songwriting - and my anthology is creeping towards 400 songs. In 2019, I unexpectedly crossed paths with a talented music producer & musician, who helped to produce my one & only album - 'Life & Love'.

Comments

  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Certainly some interesting names there Karl, and I must admit I was totally unaware they had recorded Dylan songs. Who’d thought Denise Drysdale, Joe Hasham (No96), and The Wiggles would have recorded Bob songs, but there you go.

  2. Les Everett says

    This is excellent Karl. Taught me a lot.

    I’m gonna check out Trevor Lucas.

    I was very impressed by the version of It’s All Over Now Baby Blue by Russell Morris when I saw him recently. It’s on his Fundamentalist LP.

  3. Ian Wilson says

    That is an amazing list Karl. Rebecca Barnard also did a nice version of Boots of Spanish Leather on her Fortified album. Cheers

  4. I first did a deep dive on Trevor Lucas when I discovered that he wrote “Poor Ned”, which was covered by Redgum and was a staple of their live shows.

    This is a great topic, Karl, and an interesting list.

    Note: Weddings Parties Anything did an excellent version of “If you gotta go” on their “Donkey Serenade” e.p.

  5. Karl Dubravs says

    Yes Colin – definitely some interesting artists have been drawn to Dylan’s lyrics. I must admit to having been as surprised as anyone when my research uncovered Denise Drysdale & Joe Hasham. Hopefully my future series of articles on Dylan cover songs will be full of more surprises.

  6. Karl Dubravs says

    Thanks Les…your reference to Russell Morris is likely pre-empting an entry in one of my future articles in this series :).

  7. Karl Dubravs says

    It seems Trevor Lucas led a very interesting & eventful life – although quite tragic at times.
    I have Wedding Parties Anything on one of my lists and, in time, they should make an appearance in an upcoming article in this series.

  8. Thanks for your comment Les.
    Trevor Lucas lived an interesting & eventful life – at times, quite tragic.
    Your reference to Russell Morris is foreshadowing a future article in this series :) – stay tuned.

  9. Thanks Ian – I loved putting the list together and appreciate that it is hitting a sweet spot.
    I agree with your comment on Rebecca Barnard – & she is certain to feature in a future article in this series.
    Note: Karl Dubravs & Moondance are the same person – I am yet to sort out my true identity on this site :).

  10. DBalassone says

    Thanks for this Karl. This is a wonderful list and as a fellow Dylan fanatic I am most appreciative. I completely missed The Wiggles version of ‘Man Gave Names To All the Animals’. We used to have a picture book of that song with a CD of the (Bob version) song to boot. My kids loved the book and played the song to death. I can see why the Wiggles covered it.

  11. Thanks for your comments Smokie….I am so pleased that you have enjoyed the topic.
    I do have Weddings Parties Anything on a list and will no doubt segue them into one of my future articles in this Dylan covers series.

  12. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Are The Sports going to get a run in the future Karl?

  13. Excellent piece Mr Moondance, there’s a couple of artists in there I’ll look into. And this argurs well for an ongoing series on Aussies playing Dylan.

    I imagine you’ll include Glyn Mason, and Chisel will defs get a run.

    Cheers

  14. Super article Karl. Really interesting and diverse gems of information. I look forward to further Dylan (Ausie) education.
    Cheers

  15. Mark McIver says

    A great article Karl. Looking forward to learning more. Quite coincidently earlier this week I came across a 1990 clip of the Byrds (Hillman, Crosby, McGuinn) gathering with Bob himself to do Turn Turn Turn and Mr Tambourine Man.

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