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Cold Fact

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Album Review

There was a mini-genre of singer/songwriters in the late '60s and early '70s that has never gotten a name. They were folky but not exactly folk-rock and certainly not laid-back; sometimes pissed off but not full of rage; alienated but not incoherent; psychedelic-tinged but not that weird; not averse to using orchestration in some cases but not that elaborately produced. And they sold very few records, eluding to a large degree even rediscovery by collectors. Jeff Monn, Paul Martin, John Braheny, and Billy Joe Becoat were some of them, and Sixto Rodriguez was another on his 1970 LP, Cold Fact. Imagine an above-average Dylanesque street busker managing to record an album with fairly full and imaginative arrangements, and you're somewhat close to the atmosphere. Rodriguez projected the image of the aloof, alienated folk-rock songwriter, his songs jammed with gentle, stream-of-consciousness, indirect putdowns of straight society and its tensions. Likewise, he had his problems with romance, simultaneously putting down (again gently) women for their hang-ups and intimating that he could get along without them anyway ("I wonder how many times you had sex, and I wonder do you know who'll be next" he chides in the lilting "I Wonder"). At the same time, the songs were catchy and concise, with dabs of inventive backup: a dancing string section here, odd electronic yelps there, tinkling steel drums elsewhere. It's an album whose lyrics are evocative yet hard to get a handle on even after repeated listenings, with song titles like "Hate Street Dialogue," "Inner City Blues" (not the Marvin Gaye tune), and "Crucify Your Mind" representative of his eccentric, slightly troubled mindset. As it goes with folk-rock-psych singer/songwriters possessing captivating non sequitur turns of the phrase, he's just behind Arthur Lee and Skip Spence, but still worth your consideration.

Customer Reviews

One of the top albums of all times !

I still think this is one of the greatest albums ever produced. I have listened to this album for over 30 years.... and have never tired of it. It is the weirdest thing that he is a legend in SA, but is relatively unknown in the US, even though he is American. It is going to be a tragedy when he eventually passes away with his own country not acknowledging his genius.

Dave

The man's a genius. Listened to this album for over 30 years. Shame on the rest of the world especially the USA for missing possibly the greatest artist of century. Heads up to South Africa and its people.

MASSIVE

If you have seen the film this is a MUST have. The music and story is astounding. The man is a legend in his own lifetime - just. Hats off to South Africa for discovering this great talent and letting the rest of the world know what they nearly missed.

Biography

Born: 10 July 1942 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Another serious contender for the title of "artist least likely to enjoy a major career re-estimation," the story of cult enigma Rodriguez is nonetheless characterized by recurring moments of renaissance, sprawled over four decades and as many continents. Hopelessly obscure in the United States during his formative years as Detroit's answer to Dylan via Motown and Bacharach, in South Africa the artist notoriously remained a nostalgic reminder of apartheid. As Dutch national newspaper NRC Handelsblad...
Full Bio