“Cold Fact” by Rodriguez - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1970Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

Sixto Rodriguez was the sixth son of Mexican working-class parents. The Detroit-born lad was 27-year-old when he served up this terrific debut set in the springtime of 1970, but, like so many others in the cerebral singer-songwriter vein, it sunk without trace in his homeland, with several thousand copies still in warehouse shelves several years later. This seems like a travesty, for there was much to discover and love here, especially for Donovan, Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan types. Lack of promotion? Face didn’t fit? Who knows. To be fair, his shyness didn’t do him any favours; there aren’t too many who can get away with turning their back on the audience and barely uttering a word between songs. Such difficulties were easily overcome on the LP though; Sussex Records, at least, recognised the talent, and producers Dennis Coffey (who played electric guitar) and Mike Theodore (who played keyboards and was responsible for the brass and string arrangements) did the man proud in organising a strong studio backing for the sessions held between August-September ’69. In fact, they themselves wrote two of the twelve; the very-fine folk-rocker “Hate Street Dialogue” (which, for some reason, always has me drifting to Al Wilson’s “The Snake”) and the decent blues-rocker “Gommorah (A Nursery Rhyme)” (which starts well but is somewhat spoiled by the bizarre inclusion of an impromptu children’s, er, “choir”).

Sixto is, of course, the star attraction. Every one of his songs has something going for it; he pulls you in to his stories of bad drugs, broken dreams and ghetto struggles. On the brilliantly titled “This Is Not A Song, It’s An Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues” Sixto lays down those inner city woes: “The mayor hides the crime rate, council woman hesitates, Public gets irate but forget the vote date… Gun sales are soaring, housewives find life boring, Divorce the only answer smoking causes cancer, This system's gonna fall soon, to an angry young tune, And that's a concrete cold fact.” His delivery is first-class and his message hits hard. My absolute favourite from side 1 is “Crucify Your Mind”, a stunningly arranged strummer where the troubles are more of the personal nature; “Soon you know I'll leave you, And I'll never look behind, 'Cos I was born for the purpose, That crucifies your mind. So con, convince your mirror, As you've always done before, Giving substance to shadows, Giving substance ever more.” The absolute peak occurs on side 2 with the caustic “Like Janis”, a Dylan-esque folk-rocker which sounds at least 5 years out of time if you’re fashion conscious, but is timeless for me. The wolf in sheep’s clothing is on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing: “'Cause emotionally you're the same basic trip, And you know that I know of the times that you've slipped, So don't try to impress me, you're just pins and paint, And don't try to charm me with things that you ain't. And don't try to enchant me with your manner of dress, 'Cause a monkey in silk is a monkey no less, So measure for measure reflect on my said, And when I won't see you then measure it dead.” Poor Janis. She should know better than to mess with Sixto. He’s a smart cookie and easy to love. No tricks necessary.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:45] 8.2.png Rodriguez - Sugar Man (Sixto Rodríguez) Folk Rock / Americana
A2 [02:25] 6.9.png Rodriguez - Only Good For Conversation (Sixto Rodríguez) Folk Rock / Americana
A3 [02:30] 8.7.png Rodriguez - Crucify Your Mind (Sixto Rodríguez) Folk Rock / Americana
A4 [02:05] 8.0.png Rodriguez - This Is Not A Song, It’s An Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues (Sixto Rodríguez) Folk Rock / Americana
A5 [02:30] 7.0.png Rodriguez - Hate Street Dialogue (Gary Harvey, Mike Theodore, Dennis Coffey) Folk Rock / Americana
A6 [01:50] 7.4.png Rodriguez - Forget It (Sixto Rodríguez) Songwriter
B1 [03:23] 6.9.png Rodriguez - Inner City Blues (Sixto Rodríguez) Cerebral Pop
B2 [02:30] 7.0.png Rodriguez - I Wonder (Sixto Rodríguez) Cerebral Pop
B3 [02:32] 8.8.png Rodriguez - Like Janis (Sixto Rodríguez) Folk Rock / Americana
B4 [02:20] 6.4.png Rodriguez - Gommorah (A Nursery Rhyme) (Gary Harvey, Mike Theodore, Dennis Coffey) Blues / Rhythm n Blues
B5 [03:05] 6.3.png Rodriguez - Rich Folks Hoax (Sixto Rodríguez) Cerebral Pop
B6 [02:54] 6.4.png Rodriguez - Jane S. Piddy (Sixto Rodríguez) Folk

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