Alternative Rarities: reworking Bob’s lesser known works.

By Aaron Galbraith

Even a cursory glance through the list of tracks reviewed on this site will bring up several that even the most ardent Dylan fan may not have heard of. With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to present some covers or remakes of some of these rarer songs for your enjoyment (alternatives to the alternatives if you like). Today I have four examples to highlight for you.

First up is one of Dylan’s rarest tracks, “Fur Slippers”. Dylan’s version was on an early running order for The Bootleg Series 1-3 but was bumped off to be replaced by something else. BB King recorded the track in 1999 and it was included on the “Shake, Rattle & Roll” tribute album.

What you might not be aware of is that The Crudup Brothers also covered the track on their 2000 album “Franktown Blues”. The brothers are the three sons of the legendary Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup and this would be their only album. The album contains mainly songs by their father so I’m at a loss to as to why they choose to include this track which is not one of Dylan’s finest pieces. As it is, I think it’s a decent enough cover of the track and better than BB King’s take.

Next up is an alternative version of The New Basement Tapes opening track Down on the bottom. The version on the album had music written by Jim James. Elvis Costello obviously had his eye on the track and wrote his own music for the lyrics, which he would perform in his solo shows from time to time.

A studio version was scheduled to come out on a charity compilation called “The Good Samaritan” in 2018, which as far as I’m aware never saw the light of day. The track eventually surfaced on a Record Store Day EP called “Purse” which included four tracks Elvis co-wrote with Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney, Johnny Cash and this fine slow blues version of “Down On The Bottom” with Bob Dylan.

Now this next one is a song that I have grown to have an appreciation of, following Tony’s original review of the track. Steel Bars  was co-written by Michel Bolton and originally appeared on his number 1 album “Time, Love & Tenderness”. Then just last year a new version appeared on his latest album “A Symphony Of Hits”.   The new album sees Bolton performing new versions of some of his biggest hits backed by the Australian Philharmonic Orchestra.

I find this to be a superior version to the original, stripped as it is of some of the more overly produced elements and Bolton reins in some of his more histrionic singing. Whilst it’s still not a top tier Dylan track there are parts to this version which I really like.

Lastly, this is a bit of an interesting one. Does this count as a new Dylan co-composition or as a cover/remake of one? I’ll let you be the judge.

The track in question is called “Steel and Feathers (Don’t Ever)” and it is by Nikki Jean from her 2011 album “Pennies In A Jar”. The story goes that Nikki wrote with over 30 Hall Of Fame songwriters and released this album with tracks co-written by Thom Bell, Lamont Dozier, Burt Bacharach and Carole King amongst others.

Hidden in the track list is this track co-written with Dylan. Listening to the track one can hear the Dylan portion is clearly “Don’t ever take yourself away” – the original version found an official release on the “Hawaii 5-0” soundtrack album later that same year. Nikki took the tune and the chorus and added new verses to produce this track. As this was officially approved by Dylan does it make it a new Dylan track separate from “Don’t Ever Take YourselfAway” or is it a remake of it? Who knows, but it’s a fantastic track anyway!

Don't ever take yourself away
Don't ever take yourself to a place where I can't find you
Don't ever take yourself away
I will never leave you, I will never deceive you
I'll be right there walkin' behind you

Take your time, take my confession, take my crime
Take the halo, I'm hiding, in faith I got ridin' on you
Rob me blind, I'd still see the best in human kind
In the way you make this broken world all shiny and new

Don't ever take yourself away
Don't ever take yourself to a place where I can't find you
Don't ever take yourself away
I will never leave you, I will never deceive you
I'll be right there walkin' behind you

Take a cab to that little old diner and take a stab
At piecing together the steel and the feathers that make me
I've been told my hand is a hard one to hold
I fly or I sing but give me poison, I'll drink if you take me

Don't ever take yourself away
Don't ever take yourself to a place where I can't find you
Don't ever take yourself away
I will never leave you, I will never deceive you
I'll be right there walkin' behind you
Take my tears to water the flower garden

Take my years so we can grow
But don't ever take yourself away
Don't ever take yourself to a place where I can't find you
Don't ever take yourself away
I will never leave you, I will never deceive you
I'll be right there walkin' behind you

In case you like the song, here is a great version with the ever dependable Daryl Hall. 

What else is on the site

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to all the 590 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 2000 active members.  (Try imagining a place where it is always safe and warm).  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

If you are interested in Dylan’s work from a particular year or era, your best place to start is Bob Dylan year by year.

On the other hand if you would like to write for this website, please do drop me a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article.  Email Tony@schools.co.uk

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews

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1 Response to Alternative Rarities: reworking Bob’s lesser known works.

  1. Aaron G says:

    Looks like some problems with the videos!

    Here are the Nikki Jean ones for Steel and Feather

    Studio
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=k-wZoYxCPjU

    With Daryl Hall
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LSmXtqDvChg

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