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COLD FACT Is a Hot Album
on January 11, 2006
First released in 1970 and almost entirely forgotten (at least in North America) over the three and a half decades since, COLD FACT is the first of two albums by Jesus "Sixto" Rodriguez, a gifted singer/songwriter from Detroit whose reputation has apparently fared far better in the southern hemisphere than in his homeland. A latterday Australian compilation, AT HIS BEST (six of whose eleven tracks are taken from this album), is the only other Rodriguez CD currently available; so anyone who owns and likes either of these discs is strongly encouraged to pick up the other, repetitions notwithstanding.
And indeed, withstand they don't, as COLD FACT manages to fit no less than a dozen neat, clever, poignant and musically diverse nuggets into its regrettably brief 31:45 running time. Opening with the bizarre "Sugar Man," a whining ode to a drug dealer which makes surprisingly effective use of an oddball arrangement of bass clarinet, theramined guitar and various sound effects; then segueing into the misogynistic pre-heavy metal of "Only Good for Conversation" and the pretty, lightly orchestrated neo-Biblical folk of "Crucify Your Mind," COLD FACT shows Rodriguez employing a different approach on nearly every track, with consistently strong and intelligent lyrics riding atop the results. Other highlights include "Establishment Blues," with its sly laundry-list of urban woes capped off by the stinging "...and you tell me that this is where it's at"; a tearjerking two-minute ballad, "Forget It"; the lopingly infectious "Inner-City Blues" (no relation to the Marvin Gaye tune of the same title); "Rich Folks Hoax," with its dour and self-explanatory message; and "Like Janis," which closes the album on possibly its strongest note with a beautiful arrangement backing some equally beautiful poetry ("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."). Each song is a gem in its own right, even the rare flawed one ("Gomorrah," an appealing straight blues for the most part, has a rather silly chorus with the singer backed by what sounds like a group of children), and the result is a sadly underappreciated collection by a tragically underappreciated talent which holds its own against almost any of its contemporaries - and that's saying a lot. Open your ears for this one, folks; it's more than worth the 31:45 investment.