Cold Fact, by Rodriguez

by Stephen Rose on October 15, 2013

Cold Fact (1970)
Sixto Rodriguez is a poet of the streets who released two albums of social protest in the early 1970’s, then languished in obscurity for decades until reappearing as the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man.”

While Rodriguez did not find fame in his home country, his message of social injustice resonated with the youth of South Africa, who were suffering under the authoritarian Apartheid regime.  Although repressive government policies banned his music from being played on the radio, word of mouth  about Rodriquez spread through the South African counter-culture, resulting in him becoming an underground cult sensation.  Cold Fact eventually went platinum in South Africa,  and Rodriguez became an icon for the opposition movement.  South Africans hold Rodriguez in the same esteem as Bob Dylan and the Beatles – a tribute to the power of his music.

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RodriguezSixto (named for being the sixth child) Rodriquez was born into a family of Mexican immigrants. He grew up in Detroit, and was discovered performing in small clubs by Doug Coffey, a session guitarist for Motown Records. Coffey signed Rodriguez to a contract with Sussex Records, then co-produced his debut album “Cold Fact,” released in 1970.

Cold Fact is an indictment of society’s wealthy and privileged who prosper at the expense of its poor and helpless. It takes the listener down side streets and back alleys to the bars, brothels, and drug dens, where the downtrodden seek respite from the struggles of their daily lives.

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The album opens with “Sugar Man,” Rodriguez’s theme song about a drug dealer he knew in Detroit:

Sugarman
Won’t ya hurry
Coz I’m tired of these scenes
For a blue coin
Won’t ya bring back
All those colours to my dreams

 

Cold Fact contains several songs that warranted radio airplay including “Crucify Your Mind,” about a scheming amour; and the well-orchestrated shuffle of “Inner City Blues.”

Other highlights include “Hate Street Dialogue,” “Establishment Blues,” “Forget It,” “Like Janis,” “Rich Folks Hoax,” “Jane S. Piddy,” and the sardonic “I Wonder”:

I wonder how many times you’ve been had
And I wonder how many plans have gone bad
I wonder how many times you had sex
And I wonder do you know who’ll be next

 

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In 1972, Rodriquez released his second album “Coming From Reality, ” which features the song “I Think of You.”

The 2012 documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” includes several tracks recorded in 1973 for an unreleased third album including “Can’t Get Away,” and “I’ll Slip Away.”

 Searching for Sugar Man

Video

Inner City Blues (Paris, 2009)

Crucify Your Mind (Paris, 2009)

I Wonder (Triple Door, Seattle, WA, 6-29-2009)

Crucify Your Mind (David Letterman, 8-14-2012)

Sugar Man (Live with Jules Holland, 11-13-2012)

Like Janis (Paris, 2012)

Forget It (Paris, 2012)

Inner City Blues (Paris, 2013)

Rich Folks Hoax

Sixto Rodriguez interview w/Hollywood Reporter

I Think of You (Rodriguez cover by Anna Carow)

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