Almanac Music: Rare Dylan Covers – Aussie Style

 

 

This is the second in the series of ‘Dylan cover songs – Aussie style’ and on this occasion the theme centres on those Aussie artists/bands that, for one reason or another, have found favour with a Dylan song that has been rarely covered.

 

Of Dylan’s anthology of around 600 songs, almost 150 songs have been covered by 10 or more artists, with ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ topping the list with over 400 covers. So, for the purposes of this article, I have defined ‘rarely covered’ as Dylan songs which have been covered by recording artist across the globe less than ten times. As a consequence, this article may unveil Dylan songs that have long been forgotten or by-passed altogether.

 

In true space age style, I will work my way down – from 9 to 1….

 

 

Phil Manning – Can’t Stop (1992)

 

Track 13 – ‘Country Pie’

 

 

 

 

Dylan released ‘Country Pie’ on his April 1969 Nashville Skyline album.

 

There are only nine cover versions of this song – most recently on the 2022 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Dirt Does Dylan album – which features nine songs drawn from Dylan’s 60’s period plus ‘Forever Young’ (1973).

 

Phil Manning was born in Devonport in 1948. He has forged a reputation as a blues singer-songwriter and guitarist – and has released fourteen albums (either solo or in collaboration).

 

Phil is perhaps best remembered as a member of early 70’s Aussie blues band Chain, where he co-wrote the top 20 hit song ‘Black and Blue’. The subsequent album Towards The Blues peaked in the top 10 on the Australian album charts.

 

 

The Triffids – Treeless Plain (1983)

 

Track 5 – ‘I Am A Lonesome Hobo’

 

 

 

 

Dylan released ‘I Am A Lonesome Hobo’ on his December 1967 John Wesley Harding album.

 

There are only 8 cover versions of this song and The Triffids version was the first to be released, despite being sixteen years after Dylan’s own release. The most notable other cover version of this song belongs to English singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore – who in 2011 released her own version of the entire, track by track, John Wesley Harding album – and not surprisingly, decided to title her album John Wesley Harding.

 

The Triffids were formed in Perth in 1978 by singer/songwriter David McComb. The band remained active until 1989 and during that period released five full length albums, including the critically acclaimed Born Sandy Devotional, which peaked at no.37 on the Australian albums chart.

 

 

The Missing Links – The Missing Links (1965)

 

Track 10 – ‘On The Road Again’

 

 

 

 

Dylan released ‘On The Road Again’ on his March 1965 Bringing It All Back Home album. The song itself could be classified as ‘filler’ and quite often gets lost among a host of classic Dylan compositions, including ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’, ‘Love Minus Zero/No Limit’, ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’, ‘It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)’, ‘It’s All Over Now Baby Blue’.

 

Accordingly, it is not surprising that there have only been eight cover versions of the song and most of those have been on Dylan tribute albums or self-released albums by what might be considered ‘Dylan fanatics’ with access to home-based recording equipment.

 

The Missing Links version is much more interesting – it was the first cover of the song to be released & was done within 9 months of Dylan’s own release. It is one of only 2 covers released during the 20th Century – the other being a single by a Wisconsin-based garage band called The Deverons.

 

The only notable other cover version of this song belongs to Ben Sidran, a US jazz and rock keyboardist.  His 2009 Dylan Different album contains twelve Dylan cover songs – mostly from Dylan’s 60’s period but also ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’, ‘Tangled Up In Blue’, ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’, and ‘Everything Is Broken’. His interpretation of ‘On The Road Again’ as well as the other songs on the album are well worth a listen.

 

The Missing Links were a Sydney-based garage-rock band active between 1964 – 66. Their self-titled LP was the only full-length album released by the band and has been rated in the top 50 Australian albums in the first (2010) edition of ‘100 Best Australian Albums’ by music journalists Toby Cresswell, Craig Mathieson & John O’Donnell.

 

It may be of interest to know that Johnny O’Keefe, the ‘Wild One’ of early 60’s Aussie rock’n’roll, banned The Missing Links from appearing on his TV show ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ – apparently, they were ‘too wild’ even for the ‘Wild One’.

 

Notable members of The Missing Link were:

Doug Ford, (lead guitarist) who went on to join Masters’ Apprentices (1968-72);

Andy Anderson, (NZ born, lead singer) who moved on into TV (e.g. Jim Sullivan in The Sullivans and Rick Manning in Prisoner).

 

 

Shane Howard – Time Will Tell (1994)

 

Track 16 – ‘Silvio’

 

 

 

 

Dylan released Silvio (a song co-written with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter) on his May 1988 ‘Down In The Groove’ album – an album that included 6 covers, including ‘Let’s Stick Together’. The album was ‘panned’ by most critics and by the public.

 

There are only 8 covers of ‘Silvio’ and Shane’s was the first to be released. In fact, Shane’s version and studio & live versions by The Black Sorrows on their 2019 Citizen John album are the only versions of ‘Silvio’ not to appear on a compilation tribute album or a self-release album.

 

Shane has a distinguished Aussie music pedigree. In 1977, Shane founded Goanna as singer/songwriter & guitarist. In 1982 the band had significant chart success with the album Spirit Of Place, which peaked at no.2 on the Australian album charts.  The singles from that album – ‘Solid Rock’ and ‘Razor’s Edge’ – peaked at no.3 & no.36 respectively.  In fact, Solid Rock had minor success in the USA, reaching no.71 on the Billboard Hot 100.

 

Between 1988 – 2020, Shane released 11 albums as a solo artist – although only one of those albums (1990’s River) managed to break into the top 100.

 

Author comment: I have always found something uniquely likeable about Dylan’s version of ‘Silvio’ and Shane does it great justice. The ‘Time Will Tellalbum also includes a cover of Dylan’s ‘I Shall Be Released’.

 

 

Chris Whitley & Jeff Lang – Dislocation Blues (2006)

 

Track 11 – ‘Changing Of The Guard’

 

 

 

 

Dylan released ‘Changing Of The Guard’ on his June 1978 Street Legal album.

 

There are only five covers of this song – perhaps the most notable is on Patti Smith’s 2007 Twelve album – an album where she covers a song from twelve of her favourite artists: Dylan, CSN&Y, Hendrix, Tears For Fears, Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Allman Brothers, Nirvana, The Doors, Paul Simon, Jefferson Airplane, and The Beatles, plus a 13th bonus track from REM.

 

For keen followers of Dylan, Patti Smith was given the honour of performing (on behalf of Dylan) ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm on December 10, 2016, where Dylan was officially awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. Dylan was unable to attend the banquet due to ‘pre-existing commitments’.

 

Jeff Lang is an accomplished guitarist and singer/songwriter. He has released seventeen studio albums between 1994 – 2019, however has not found mainstream success. His 2006 Dislocation Blues collaboration with Chris Whitley (an American blues/rock guitarist) reached no.64 on the Australian charts – being his best result to date. Dislocation Blues also includes a cover of Dylan’s ‘When I Paint My Masterpiece’.

 

 

The Revelators – Amazing Stories (1991)

 

Track 4 – ‘Caribbean Wind’

 

 

 

 

Dylan released ‘Caribbean Wind’ (a previously unreleased outtake from the 1981 Shot Of Love recording sessions) on the November 1985 5 LP/3 Cassette Biograph Box Set.

 

There are only four covers of the song and The Relevators 1991 version was the first to be released. The other covers involve a UK Dylan tribute band known as Zimmermen and artists from Belgium & Sweden.

 

The Revelators, led by the mercurial Joe Camilleri, were formed in 1989 – initially with the same members as The Black Sorrows but with the intention to (in Joe’s words) “blow out the serious days’ work with people who shared the same interest in music and who simply wanted to play it”. The composition of the band evolved over time, other than always being led by Joe.

 

Between 1991 – 2002, The Revelators released four studio albums: two were covers albums and two contained original material. In the same period, Joe’s other band (The Black Sorrows) also released three albums of original material.

 

Author comment: I love the album cover! Joe leads The Revelators through a fabulous cover version of ‘Caribbean Wind’ – I guess certain Dylan songs fit Joe like a glove and this is one of them. As for The Black Sorrows, they are certain to resurface in a future article on ‘Dylan Covers – Aussie Style’.

 

 

Mark Seymour & The Undertow – Seventh Heaven Club (2013)

 

Track 3 – ‘Can’t Wait’

 

 

 

 

Dylan released ‘Can’t Wait’ on his September 1997 Time Out Of Mind album.

 

There are only 3 covers of this song. The other two are by Scandinavian artists, including a re-creation of the entire Time Out Of Mind album in Norwegian by Arve-Gunnar Heloy. For those interested, the album is titled Tankelaus Tid – which translates to ‘Thoughtless Time’; and yes, the album includes a fully ‘translated into Norwegian’ version of ‘Highlands’, although Arve-Gunnar’s version only goes for 14min 30secs (compared to Dylan’s original 16min 31sec).

 

Mark Seymour is etched deep in the Aussie music scene. In 1981 he formed and fronted Hunters & Collectors – a band that released nine studio albums between 1982 – 1998 and were inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 2005. The big hits are BIG – ‘Talking To A Stranger’, ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’, ‘Do You See What I See’, ‘When The River Runs Dry’, ‘Holy Grail’.

 

Mark then released six solo albums between 1997 – 2007, although none rattled the charts, with his first solo release King Without A Clue doing the best – peaking at no.53.

 

In 2011, Mark got a band together and has since released four albums as Mark Seymour and The Undertow. The second release from Mark & Undertow was Seventh Heaven Club – which comprises a collection of twelve covers of love songs by the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Dave Dobbyn, Jackson Browne, Otis Redding, Lucinda Williams, Tom Petty, Robbie Robertson, and Matt Berninger. The Lucinda Williams song is ‘Come On’ and the cover version has Mark and Lucinda sharing vocals.

 

Author comment: I love Mark’s version of the song ‘Can’t Wait’ – it’s got a Robbie Robertson edge to it.

 

 

The Sports – The Sports Play Dylan (And Donovan) (1981)

 

Track 5 – ‘All The Tired Horses’

 

 

 

 

Dylan released ‘All The Tired Horses’ as the opening track on his June 1970 Self Portrait double album.

 

There are only three covers of this song and The Sports’ version was the first to be released. It would be another twenty-six years until The Narrators also found the desire to record & release this song – one of the most unusual in all of Dylan’s vast canon of works….as it consists of just two lines of lyric (‘all the tired horses in the sun, how’m I s’posed to get any ridin’ done, hmmmmmmm, hmm, hm, hmmm’) repeated fourteen times over 3min 12sec. What’s more, the entire vocals are done by three female voices. The Sports’ version fades out on the tenth repeat and lasts 1min 58sec – which is probably a wise decision.

 

The Sports were formed by singer/songwriter Stephen Cummings in 1976 with the main band members being Andrew Pendlebury and Martin Armiger (guitar), Robert Glover (bass), Jim Nevin (keyboards) and Paul Hitchins (drums). They released four full length albums between 1978 – 1981 – the most notable being Don’t Throw Stones, which peaked at no.9 on the Aussie charts. The singles off the album – ‘Don’t Throw Stones’ and ‘Who Listens To The Radio’ peaked at no.36 and no.35 respectively

.

By late 1981, the band was ‘disbanding’ with Stephen Cummings moving into a solo career. It is not clear what inspired the decision to release the The Sports Play Dylan (And Donovan) EP around the time of the break-up. In many ways it seems right out of left field, as their four studio albums contained original material, other than one cover – Jackie DeShannon’s ‘When You Walk In the Room’. Nevertheless, the EP has four Dylan covers – ‘Ballad Of A Thin Man’, ‘You’re A Big Girl Now’, ‘Fourth Time Around’ and this article’s featured song, ‘All The Tired Horses’.

 

Author comment: I love the brackets around Donovan’s name – as if it is an afterthought. For the record (pun intended), the (And Donovan) song is ‘Sunshine Superman’.

 

 

Robert Forster – I Had A New York Girlfriend (1994)

 

Track 4 – ‘Tell Me That It Isn’t True’

 

 

 

 

Dylan released ‘Tell Me That It Isn’t True’ on his April 1969 Nashville Skyline album.

 

There are only two covers of this song – the first by a Dutch Rock band called Fatal Flowers – & their version appears on a 1991 compilation album of a strange unconnected collection of songs, including the Aussie classic ‘Under The Milky Way’. Robert Forster’s version is the only one to sit on a stand-alone studio album.

 

Robert Forster was born in Brisbane on 29 June 1957. He is best known for co-founding, along with Grant McLennan, The Go-Betweens  in Brisbane in 1977. Lindy Morrison joined the band as the drummer from 1980. The band released six studio albums between 1981 – 1988 including Before Hollywood that featured the single ‘Cattle And Cane’, and 16 Lovers Lane that featured the single ‘Streets Of Our Town’.

 

Since 1990, Robert has pursued a solo career and has released seven albums – the latest in 2023. His 1994 I Had A New York Girlfriend is his only solo album devoted to cover songs.

 

Author comment: Robert and Grant reformed The Go-Betweens in 2000 and released a further three studio albums. When Grant died in May 2006, Robert announced that ‘The Go-Betweens were no more’.  As a tribute to the band, in September 2009, the Brisbane City Council renamed the Hale Street Link that crosses over the Brisbane River as The Go Between Bridge.

 

 

Emma Swift – Blonde On The Tracks (2020)

 

Track 2 – ‘I Contain Multitudes’

 

 

 

 

Dylan released ‘I Contain Multitudes’ as the opening track on his 39th and most recent studio recording – the June 2020 Rough And Rowdy Ways.

 

Emma’s version remains the only cover of the song – and it is to her credit that she was able to include the song on her eight song Dylan covers album – a project that she commenced in 2017. Her version of ‘I Contain Multitudes’ was released on the album less than two months after Dylan released his own version. The remaining songs on her album belong to Dylan’s late 60’s – mid 70’s period.

 

Emma was born in Sydney on 15 December 1981. She moved to Nashville in 2013 to pursue her music career. Blonde On The Tracks remains Emma’s only full length album release to date.

 

Author comment: Emma’s partner is UK singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock (the spelling of Robyn may be confusing for some, but Robyn is male). Robyn has a substantial recording catalogue, with over 20 studio albums and multiple live albums released between 1981 (the year Emma was born) to the present. One of his live albums is called ‘Robyn Sings’ (2002) – a sixteen track double-album of Dylan covers.

 

 

Notable mentions

 

For those Aussie artists & tracks who fit the theme for this post but for which YouTube clips were unavailable:

 

Doug Ashdown – ‘Quit Your Lowdown Ways’ from his 1966 This Is Doug Ashdown album.

 

Doug was born in Adelaide in 1942 and is best known for ‘Winter In America’ (aka ‘Leave Love Enough Alone’). Doug’s cover of ‘Quit Your Lowdown Ways’ (a studio outtake from Dylan’s mid 1962 Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan recording session – that somehow found it’s way into the public domain via unofficial bootleg distribution) is one of only nine covers.

 

 

The Mercurials – ‘You Angel You’ from their 2005 self-titled album.

 

The Mercurials feature Andrew Pendlebury (ex The Sports) and Mark Ferrie (ex The Models and Sacred Cowboys). Their cover of ‘You Angel You’ (originally off Dylan’s 1974 Planet Waves album) is one of only nine covers.

 

 

Mick Thomas & The Roving Commission – ‘Winterlude’ from the self-released 2019 Bipolar Request album.

 

Mick Thomas was born in Yallourn, Vic in 1960. He is best known as the frontman of Weddings, Parties, Anything (1984 – 1998) before pursuing a solo career. Mick’s cover of ‘Winterlude’ (originally off Dylan’s 1970 New Morning album) is one of only five covers.

 

 

Trevor Lucas – ‘Talking WWIII Blues’ from his 1964 See That My Grave Is Kept Clean album.

 

I explored this cover song and Trevor’s background in my first article in the ‘Dylan Cover Songs – Aussie Style’ series. Suffice to say that Trevor’s cover was the first to be released and one of only four covers.

 

 

Shane O’Mara – ‘Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others)’ from his 2021 Music From Yikesville album.

 

Shane is best known for forming Rebecca’s Empire in 1994 with then partner Rebecca Barnard (who will feature, in her own right, in a future article on ‘Dylan Covers – Aussie Style’). Prior to this (1988-92), Shane worked with Stephen Cummings (ex The Sports), co-producing three studio albums including the ARIA award winning A New Kind Of Blue.

 

Shane’s cover of ‘Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others)’ (originally off Dylan’s 1979 Slow Train Coming album) is one of only three covers and the only one released in the 21st century.

 

 

Jeff Lang – ‘Call Letter Blues’ from his 1998 Cedar Grove album.

 

I have referenced Jeff earlier in this article, viz his 2006 collaboration with Chris Whitley.

 

Jeff’s cover of ‘Call Letter Blues’ (a Dylan outtake from the September, 1974 Blood On The Tracks recording session; eventually released at track 19 of CD2 on the 1991 The Bootleg Series Vol 1-3: Rare & Unreleased 3CD box set) is the one and only cover of the song. In that respect, it stands alongside Emma Swift’s cover of ‘I Contain Multitudes’ as the ONLY covers of a Dylan song on the world stage to have a unique, untainted Aussie pedigree.

 

More from Karl Dubravs can be read Here.

 

 

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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

    Thanks for alerting me to these covers Karl, a cracking list!

  2. Mark ‘Swish’ Schwerdt says

    Well played Karl, there’s a ton of research in here ands tons of great tunes. Where did you start?

  3. Thanks Colin!

    Thanks Mark – I could cheekily say that it all started around 1971 where, as a 15 year old, I was lent a copy of Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits LP.

  4. Thanks Karl. In particular, delighted to discover these versions of ‘Caribbean Wind’ and ‘Changing of the Guards’ – the underrated album Street Legal is a real favourite for me.

    I need to check out more of Jeff Lang’s work. What a talent!

  5. This is excellent, Karl.
    Thanks.

  6. Kevin Densley says

    Looks great, Karl! Will certainly digest all of this with great interest!

  7. Thanks Damien – I knew you’d get a kick out of the Street Legal reference.

    Thanks Smokie.

    Thanks Kevin – there’s a lot to digest; should keep you going for a while.

  8. Great post Karl,
    I am guessing that you know that Shane Howard was not the only Aussie musician to cover Dylan’s Silvio.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwD_3-ZSxG8

  9. Hey Dave – thanks for checking out the post & for your comment.
    It seems like my trusty band of volunteer research staff (i.e. me) did miss the other Aussie musician (band) to cover Silvio…thanks for bringing it to my attention. My database has been updated.
    A corrigendum will be published shortly :).

  10. No worries, Moondance. I have seen Joe and the Sorrows perform Silvio twice in recent years. I am a huge Goanna fan and Shane’s cover is good. Joe’s is exceptional. I mostly posted my comment so I could post the YouTube clip of Joe and the boys performing at a rural rubbish dump. It’s a great vision.

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