on July 24, 2012
you can read the myths, the rumors and the strange trip that went into making this movie. basically, Rodriguez was a Mexican-American from inner city Detroit who wrote and made two records that were absolutely brilliant but went nowhere. Then when it seemed Rodriguez star had faded, a bootleg found its way to South Africa where it became a rallying point in the anti-Apartheid movement reigniting interest in these two brilliant albums of funky psychedelic folk music from a man called the Latino Dylan. Certainly his songs would feel right at home in a Dylan repetoir.
The myth formed that he had set himself on fire at the end of a show with the lines that ended one of his songs, "Thanks for your time. And you can thank me for mine. And after that's said, Forget it. Bag it, man." and then ended his life in a flash. except that was nothing but legend, part of the myth of this man and how it took a decade for his masterpiece first album to go platnum half way around the world.
The music is brilliant. the song lyrics are still relivant today, and maybe more so. "This system's gonna fall soon, to an angry young tune-and that's a concrete cold fact." and when he sings of Rich Folks Hoax you can only wonder if he isn't the voice of todays 98%.When you hear "Crucify Your Mind", it sounds like the best that Dylan ever wrote. "Sugar Man" is a tale of life in the real inner city. Music like this, and a tale like this won't die.
The film is a great piece of entertainment, a great piece of `musico-politico' history. And now he is out touring again. get the sound track, it concists of music from both albums. See the movie if you can.
The Dirty Lowdown
on August 6, 2012
Firstly, like most Americans, I genuinely had never heard of this guy, Detroiter Sixto Rodriguez. But I read about this documentary movie about his career getting resurrected, how his bombed 1st album "Cold Fact" was bootlegged and beloved among anti-apartheid South African youth...I thought "Wow, that's cool!!", and I love the taste of people from the southern hemisphere, having known this kid in high school who was an exchange student from Perth, Australia in 1984/1985...would not be surprised if he was a Rodriguez fan either.
So, I had read about the movie, Rodriguez himself & this soundtrack/best-of CD, was in my local BestBuy, it was in the back of my mind and was curious if they had it...didn't think they would, but they did, for an unbelievable $6.99...so I took a chance and snapped it up, the price was right...best musical decision of the year by far...WOW...a total epiphany!!
My friend I was with had never heard of Rodriguez either but was curious to hear it...so I popped it on and "Sugar Man" came on...blew us both away and we were singing "Sugar Man" the whole time, even while having dinner and hanging afterwards...still singing it, it's permanently in my brain. But the other 13 cuts on the CD are equally mind-boggling as well, like SA fave "I Wonder"...like, why doesn't the whole world know this song?? Love his mix of timeless social commentary that still stings and feels like he's talking 2012, let alone 1970!! "A Most Disgusting Song" cracked me up too. Rodriguez is clearly my fave rediscovered artist of 2012. Stylewise, he is VERY Dylanesque, that's very clear, but just as much, he reminds me of Leonard Cohen if LC had a better singing voice...LOVE LC, one of my faves, but his vocal range is quite limited...Rodriguez has a better range and more dynamics and elasticity in his voice. He is of Mexican descent, but there's no accent, which was startling at first. The guy is not one-dimensional, his style is varied, which in a way makes him more listenable than Dylan to my ears...as much as I love Dylan...he's almost a higher-pitched Neil Diamond or something...but as appealing as his melodies are, his lyrics really hit you and even sting a little.
People say "better late than never", and he is 70 now, but still, I feel like his career was robbed a bit because he had this accidental success down under and he never got to enjoy it as it was happening, nor did he get paid until recently, living in obscurity and lost doing construction and living low-key...people thought he was dead. I love that on the back of the CD, it says he will be getting paid from royalties from this CD...I hope he is from the reissues of his 2 albums as well from Light In The Attic, and his sales down under.
He is touring now, playing in NYC on August 31st...I will be there...Rodriguez really is a living genius.
on July 24, 2012
Searching For Sugar Man is a film about Sixto Rodriguez -- he was a folk musician from the early 1970's, and after two albums and a compilation disc, he seemed to disappear off the face of the Earth. While gaining some popularity in South Africa (likely due to the thematic content of his lyrics), he's been relatively obscure in America. The documentary chronicles two longtime fans who attempt to find Rodriguez and discover his fate. Searching for Sugar Man uses many of the songwriter's best songs from his only two albums (COLD FACT and COMING FROM REALITY) and effectively functions as a lovingly made greatest hits collection.
Many of the lyrics and themes that Rodriguez penned pegged him as a "protest artist," similar to Bob Dylan. Many of these songs are pessimistic; ideas of oppression, loss of control, and civil unrest fill many of his songs. Even though these songs come from different albums, the lyrical themes and style that Rodriguez uses makes this soundtrack feel like a cohesive and cogent record.
For fans of Bob Dylan, I would highly recommend this soundtrack -- it's a great sampling of a long lost artist's work. For those interested, I would highly recommend the opening track, "Sugar Man." It's Rodriguez's biggest hit, and it sums up his work nicely. For a singer/songwriter whose music has been lost for quite some time, this compilation is quite a gem.
on November 18, 2012
After watching the documentary movie "Searching for Sugar Man" recently, I was so taken with his music and his demeanor, his utter lack of ego or entitlement, that I had to buy the soundtrack.
I'm glad I did. I was a very active listener of the music of my youth, and knew most of the artists, but had never heard of "Rodriguez", so was astounded when I saw the movie and learned of his melodic and poignant music, easily at a level of quality competitive in the commercial market of the seventies, when it was recorded, yet I'd never heard any of it. Nor of him.
His songs were timeless tales of life in the city (his was Detroit), and spoke of the drug dealers and unemployment and heartache so prevalent in seventies music, but also belied a deeper, unspoken hope that life's struggles could be overcome; that hard work could change circumstances.
His voice is reminiscent of Dylan, which may actually have been one issue with his not reaching a higher level of popularity since there already was one, and he was arguably the best at being a Dylan. But the music, the voice and the wonderfully woven words of his songs have a resonance and truth seldom experienced in the political explosion of music of the era. A few succeeded in creating good songs that were also good stories, many proffered commercially viable stuff that touched on issues raging in American society, but Rodriguez put out music with heart, and lived his music without compromise in his life of extreme hard work as a physical laborer.
The story of the search for the artist once his haunting, mysterious past caught hold of a couple music historians/journalists, is the real treat of the story of Rodriguez. The fact that, unknown to the artist, who lived a meager existence of low pay and hard work, his music was cherished in South Africa during the uprisings against Apartheid, is simply amazing. That the seekers of his actual story had to work extremely hard to find out anything about where he was from, or who he really was, is nothing compared to the explosive success his music enjoyed in a far away land, yet he knew nothing of it. The stories of how he'd died were as much the impetus for the search as anything. Some had claimed he'd died in prison, others claimed he'd committed suicide on stage in front of an unappreciative audience who could not grasp the desperation of his message.
With this subject matter, one might wonder how it could be an uplifting story, but it was all that and more. I feel I met the man watching the story unfold, beautifully emphasized by the man's own music. I can't suggest the movie more highly. It is a sweet story of a man unwilling to sell out, unafraid to hold fast in his beliefs and completely devoid of immodesty.
I left the theater soaring in spirit. The music takes me back there when I hear it.
on February 15, 2013
Love it. Can't get enough.
Heard an interview with him and the director about the film on NPR, but only bits and pieces. Took me a while to track down the title of the film and then the soundtrack. Glad I did.
This Is Not A Song ..., Lifestyles, Cause, Crucify Your Mind, grabbed my attention right away. It took me awhile to get into the whole album. But now I can, and often do, play it over and over again, especially with headphones. Although the sound quality is not always crystal clear, as compared to modern recordings (I don't think it was remastered back from the originals), the arrangements are often lush and ahead of their time.
I find the lyrics to be multi-layered, simple, baffling, interesting. They're stories, stream of consciousness. Sometimes have no idea what he's talking about, and yet seem to know exactly what he means. I live in a lower income, urban neighborhood and much of the music describes much of my world, even though it was written 40 years ago.
Some reservations/hesitations ... To me, some of the lyrics (especially when taken as a whole with the other CDs) sound dated, sexist (misogynistic, as some have suggested, seems too strong), and anti-gay. Was this social commentary, satire, sarcasm, or just an artifact of the times and his descriptions from that perspective (in a recent concert, he seemed a bit too quick to point out that Sugar Man was descriptive rather prescriptive)? I think it was the former, but your mileage may vary. Parental advisory: Sex, drugs, and rock and roll are frequently mentioned (along with a bit of cursing and several sides of injustice, politics, and protest ...).
As others have mentioned, this is a most excellent "Greatest Hits" collection. But please consider buying the reissues of both Cold Fact and Coming from Reality (both CDs available on Amazon), especially since Rodriguez will also get those royalties. And, another reason to buy those CDs is that they come with great booklets, especially the one for Cold Fact. These really fill out some of the details of this mysterious musical-political figure.
Anyway, in my humble opinion, he's "not like all the rest."
Thank you for your time.
on September 1, 2012
I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa to the sound of Rodriguez. We listened to bootleg copies of his album Cold Fact all the time. And when I hear those songs now all these years later it brings on a wave of nostalgia. Not having heard the album in about 25 years when I played it again it could still remember the words of each and every song. The story is true and, the music is incredible. Rodriguez was truly America's loss all those years ago. Don't let it happen again. Buy the album now!
on August 14, 2012
The film, the man, the music: it will all blow you away. My friend and I came out of the theater bursting with things to say. In the line at the ladies room, we were all abuzz with excitement over the phenomena of the artist (Rodriguez), the film itself, and the fact that he's from our town, Detroit. People compare him to Bob Dylan, but I think musically and creatively, he's in a world apart from Dylan.
This week, Rodriguez just played a tiny afternoon gig at the Old Miami, a veterans/punkrock divebar in the Cass Corridor, near the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit. Then he took off for a showing of the film in Traverse City, Michigan. He's just a decent, regular guy who does exceptional music. His appearance last night on Letterman didn't do justice to his abilities. He might be a bit nervous or self-conscious about performing on TV for the first time.
Even though he's older, you get the feeling he still has a lot of stories to tell and songs to write.
on September 4, 2012
I was interested in learning about the life and music of Jesus, or Sixto Rodriguez, so I decided to go see the movie about his life and work. If you haven't seen the movie do yourself a favor and go see it. I enjoyed the lyrics in his music. The music is simple in it's structure, but the lyrics are poetical and rich in content. If you enjoy songs that speak of life circumstances and lyrics that provide the means to think and ponder questions about politics, life experiences, escaping from reality, and love, this is a good start. Check Rodriguez's music and let Sugarman take your worries away.
on October 6, 2012
I recently stumbled upon the documentary film: "Searching for Sugarman" featuring the little known musician Sixto Rodriguez. Assumed to have died by his own hand, 2 South Africans set out on a quest to find out how Rodriguez died, only to discover he'd been living in the same house in Detroit MI for 40 years. What unfolds is the erstwhile story of someone who had no idea he was famous, nor the impact he had on the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa. Rodriguez sold "Six albums" in the US (as one of his producers states in the film) yet he sold a 1/2 a million albums in South Africa providing a porthole for musicians and poets to oppose the Apartheid movement in a way never seen in South African history.
Rodriguez's melodies are haunting, his voice distinctive and his guitar riffs catchy. He may remind you of Paul Simon, Donnovan, Bob Dylan or Jefferson airplane - such was the time since his albums were originally released in 1970 and 1971. But what will stay with you are his lyrics - he puts together words and phrases like a jazz musician discovering scat. Rodriguez remains true to his roots and humble even today - giving away any money he now earns performing in sold out arenas to 30,000 screaming screaming South African fans.
Buy this recording then do yourself a favor and watch the movie on Netflix. x
on April 22, 2015
The "Rodriguez" saga has, unfortunately, only been exposed recently, coming to national acclaim in 2012 with the release of the film "Searching for Sugarman." Indeed, since his ground-breaking, song-writing debut in 1970, he's managed to disappear and then gloriously reappear with the help of this amazing film. This soundtrack, brilliantly aligned to follow the movie's plotline, offers the best of his work, digitally remastered and all. It is in this vein that this CD succeeds...taking, essentially, the best from Sixto Rodriguez's first two albums (Cold Fact and Coming From Reality) and merging it with some recent work to give us the absolute best of this man's, this enigma's talent.
His legacy has already been spelled out...Sixto Rodriguez, a young singer/song-writer from Detroit, makes two rather obscure albums in the early 1970s that don't sell very well on a national level. Believing that he's had his chance, his record label drops him, relegating him to a life of insignificance.
Unknown to him or his record label, his songs take off in South Africa, becoming hugely popular. Thrown into the same class as Dylan, Elvis and the Beatles in these remote countries, Rodriguez, conversely, goes to work in Detroit's demolition and assembly line business, epitomizing the many who've lost a career in popular music and are now attempting to scrape by.
But it is this persistent popularity throughout Africa and Europe that drive a new generation of Rodriguez fans to wonder about his outcome. What happened to this guy? Why did he just disappear? Is it true that he shot himself on-stage one night in mid-concert?
In 2012, with the release of "Searching For Sugarman," his renewed career suddenly takes off. Playing to mostly European and African audiences, he finally realizes his dream of success at 70 years old. This compilation soundtrack is the result of that effort.
To me, if you are going to listen to the best of Rodriguez, there are three monumental works that carry this man's legacy..."Crucify Your Mind" and "I Wonder" from "Cold Fact" and "Cause" from "Coming From Reality" tell all there is about this man's talent. Later works seem to forget the depth and background orchestration of these fabulous tracks. But taken all at once, this is a crucial look at a man and a career reborn, miraculously 40 years after it'd seemingly died. The movie and the music are magnificently uplifting...everyone needs to be inspired by "Searching for Sugar Man."