Amazing Reissue Alert.

August 7, 2008 at 7:21 am (Uncategorized)

While poking around the site at Light In The Attic Records to see what The Blakes were up to of late, I noticed quite a bit of pimpage there for a reissue they’ve got coming out later in August by someone called Rodriguez. They’re not the only ones on the Rodriguez tip, either; The Greatest Music Magazine On The Planet, a/k/a MOJO, just gave Rodriguez’s reissue a 4-star review.

Huh.

The album is called Cold Fact. It came out in 1970 originally, and let’s cut right to the chase: it has a totally kick-ass cover.


Beyond that, it was an early production project of the amazing Dennis Coffey/Mike Theodore team (you know how dope Freda Payne’s “Band of Gold” sounds? Yeah, those guys produced and played on it (along with the late incarnation of Motown’s vaunted Funk Brothers).  Those guys worked with a who’s who of heavy hitters in Detroit,  and performed/produced a number of famous funk/soul sides in the early ’70’s, stuff that’s been sampled to death by folks like the Beastie Boys, Nas, and Wu Tang Clan). So, yeah, its got that going for it.

The other thing it has going for it is Rodriguez himself, or Sixto Rodriguez as he was known to pals. Rodriguez  was an inner city kind of guy, and Cold Fact is all about the tumultuous and downright frightening world of the late sixties urban landscape viewed from an angry, up-close lens.

Cold Fact didn’t sell many copies when it came out. For one thing, Sixto Rodriguez had some interesting ideas about promoting it. At an early industry showcase, he played a truncated set with his back to the audience (years before Michael Stipe or The Brian Jonestown Massacre, even!) His idea of a gig was to play at what Mike Theodore called “hooker bars, inner city dives, biker bars”. The record sank without much fanfare and Sixto Rodriguez moved on and that would’ve been that…

…except that for some reason students and counterculturally-inclined youths in South Africa and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe started buy Cold Fact. They bought a lot of it, too–according to Light In The Attic, they made the damned thing a platinum record down there. Vinyl diving turntablists discovered the opening track on the album, “Sugar Man” and brought that harrowing, beautifully disturbing song a bigger audience.

At any rate, I’ve been listening to Cold Fact non-stop for the better part of a week, and I can unconditionally recommend it. “Sugar Man”, the opening track, is an absolutely disconcerting piece of urban latin folk pop, kind of like what you’d get if Love’s delicate “Alone Again, Or” had the feel of “A House Is Not A Motel”. Tunes like “Crucify Your Mind”, “Inner City Blues”, “I Wonder”, “Rich Folks Hoax”, and the sublime “Like Janis” sound like soundtracks for movies like Serpico or Taxi Driver or Mean Streets. If you’re looking for the perfect soundtrack for a George Pelecanos novel, Cold Fact is it. Put “Sugar Man” on your iPod and take a midnight stroll in the city and just see if you’re not feeling much more uneasy than you normally would, just see if you’re not suddenly doing a lot more looking over your shoulder. That’s the power of Rodriguez’s brilliant, beautifully bleak and angry urban take on Donovan here. With a quiet, unsettling and understated acoustic beauty, Cold Fact stands as the most essential reissue I’ve heard all year.

Take a listen to “Sugar Man”.

“Just Like Janis”:

3 Comments

  1. =dan= said,

    my word verification was “bsincyn” (“be synchin?”) & appropriately so because I too have loved “Sugar Man” since I got it from Moistworks a couple of years back. Absolutely haunting song. Any more tracks from the record you can post?

  2. Chris H. said,

    I’d *love* to post a few more, but I’m tryin’ to stay in the good graces of Light In The Attic, which is a totally kickass record label (and perhaps the most idiosyncratic one on the planet, just *try* to find a common thread in their roster of artists), so about all I can do right now is mention that folks have put up some great clips at Youtube which aren’t so much videos as excuses to feature songs like “Crucify Your Mind” and “I Wonder”.

  3. Searching For Cold Facts « Popnarcotic said,

    […] What I will leave you with is this:  put the incredible story aside.  Forget the trappings and sentimentality of it all, genuine though it all is.  Instead, realize that Cold Fact is an incredible, singular, astonishing record that sounds decades ahead of its time, an amazing blend of Motown production, Donovan melodicism, and Dylan-ish folk rants of protest and observation.  Hey, I even wrote about it back in 2008, long before I knew the Searching For Sugar Man story! […]

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