1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Archive for the tag “Rodriguez”

Sugarman – Just Jinger

Greatest Hits - Just Jinger

Greatest Hits – Just Jinger

When Rodriguez walked out onto the stage in Cape Town back in 1998 to kick off his first ever SA tour, he thanked the audience for keeping him alive. And a large part of that thanks could have been directed towards Ard Mathews and Just Jinger as their cover version of the Rodriguez classic, ‘Sugarman’, was probably as important in bringing the Detroit musician to a new generation of fans as the army call up was to his first South African fans.

‘Cold Fact’, the Rodriguez album that contained ‘Sugarman’ had been around since the late 60’s early 70’s and seemed to live in the air we breathed back then. Nearly every white South African home had a copy of the album and everyone knew the song. It seemed only natural then for someone to cover it, but strangely it had to wait till the 90’s before Just Jinger plucked up the courage to take on such a revered song. And they did the right thing with their cover as it is as straight forward a cover of an original as one could get. Just about the only difference between the original and the JJ’s version is Ard’s grungey vocals compared to Rodriguez’s folky ones.

So what, you may ask, is the point of producing a cover that is pretty much the same as the original? Well, I think that the fact that Just Jinger didn’t deviate too far from the original shows their huge respect for the song and the singer as they didn’t want to mess too much with the original, seeing it as perfection in itself, so they could only imitate and not add to it. The second reason that this was an important cover was laid out in the first paragraph of this article. Just Jinger were becoming one of the biggest bands in the land and the fact that they tipped their hat to this classic song had their younger fans digging out their moms and dads CDs to check out the original.

At the time Just Jinger covered this track, there was hardly another cover of the track, let alone a cover of any other Rodriguez tracks out there (there were some and a list of pre-‘Searching For Sugarman’ covers can be found here: http://sugarman.org/coverversions.html). Just Jinger with their excellent and timely cover of the track helped keep Rodriguez alive and well and they did so reverentially, letting the song take the limelight. This would have to go down as one of the greatest covers of an international track by an SA band.

Where to find it:
Something For Now – Just Jinger (1998), Colossal Records, cdcll(sb)7020

Video:

God Keep The People (Who Stay Awake At Night) – John Oakley-Smith

Matinees On Saturdays - John Oakley-Smith

Matinees On Saturdays – 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.

 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: