Rodriguez – Cold Fact

rodriguez - cold factAfter watching Searching For Sugarman I thought it only appropriate I check out something of Rodriguez’ actual music and, it seemed, Cold Fact was the best place to start.

Starting off with the track Sugar Man, Cold Fact certainly plays one of its strongest cards first as Sixto Rodriguez paints a picture of inner city life in the USA in the late 1960s combining aspects of folk music and the psychedelic movement.

These sounds really sum up the whole album and very clearly place it in time as Cold Fact really feels as if it could only have been made when it was.

In this sense it feels slightly dated, but at the same there is enough to it both lyrically and musically to keep it interesting, especially when backed up by the Searching For Sugarman film.

Sixto Rodriquez 1As the album goes on it seems to me that the reason for its lack of success in the USA, but its success in both South Africa and Australia, is possibly two-fold.

First it sounds suspiciously like a record trying to combine the sounds of Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel with something from psychedelia and pop production laid on which, rather than making an album that sounds deep it, at times, does feel a little bland, though, this seems to be something that comes from the producers rather than Rodriquez himself if the movie is to be believed.

Sixto Rodriquez 2The other factor I think is the less abstract lyrics which are, at times, very frank and personal about the state of society in the USA and, while artists like Dylan tackle the same subjects, they did so in ways that weren’t quite so upfront – while Dylan’s music seems to come from an observer, I get the feeling from Rodriguez that this was the life he came from – rather than looking into Desolation Row, Sixto was living there day-to-day.

Therefore, I think, for the people of South Africa and Australia in the 1970s they were already looking on the USA from a distance while, possibly, the words may have hit too close to home for the middle classes of America the album was sonically aimed at.

sixto rodriquez 3Cold Fact is still certainly worth a listen and has a lot to say about the life lived by people from the working class inner city areas of the US that maybe is not so recorded in music in the mid to late 60s like it is here (the working class reflection of life really came with punk in the mid 70s) – so maybe Rodriquez was even ahead of his time.

Either way Cold Fact is an interesting record with some very good songs that demonstrate a great poetic quality from Rodriguez’ lyrics which paint a picture of life that may well still be more relevant to life today than many would like to admit.

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