God Keep The People (Who Stay Awake At Night) – John Oakley-Smith
There is an artist in the UK who in 2012 ‘did a Rodriguez’. That is, he recorded an album in 1967 and then another one in 1971 and then disappeared from sight only to have success come and find him decades later. This guy was Bill Fay who, following much touting in ‘Uncut’, a UK music magazine, eventually had an album in the UK charts.
And we all know the Rodriguez story of how he made 2 brilliant albums that did nothing then disappeared from sight, only to make a huge global comeback. John Oakley-Smith’s problem is that he only made 1 brilliant album that did nothing in 1976, but that shouldn’t preclude him from getting the recognition he deserves should it?
Just have a listen to the beautiful ‘God Keep The People (Who Stay Awake At Night)’ and then try and figure out why this man did not get more accolades. Like Rodriguez and Fay, Smith had an eye for human characters that he brings into his songs especially in this one where as he asks God to look after those nightowls whom most of us hardly notice. And, like Rodriguez and Fay, he brings them to our attention through great tunes. But where perhaps he outdoes Rodriguez and to a degree Fay, (and I may be going out on a limb here) is that he has a better voice. His is somewhat akin to Nick Drake and that is perfect for the music he plays.
So while you are listening to ‘God Keep The People’ maybe one of you out there may think about making a film called ‘Seaching For Matinee Man’.
Where to find it:
If you’re lucky you may find a vinyl copy of his brilliant LP ‘Matinees On Saturdays’ at a second hand shop. The song’s on that.