Searching For Sugar Man
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SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN is a film about hope, inspiration and the resonating power of music. In the late '60s, two celebrated producers who were struck by his soulful melodies and prophetic lyrics discovered a musician in a Detroit bar. They recorded an album that they believed was going to secure his reputation as one of the greatest recording artists of his generation. In fact, the album bombed and the singer disappeared into obscurity amid rumors of a gruesome on-stage suicide. But a bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and, over the next two decades, it became a phenomenon. Two South African fans then set out to find out what really happened to their hero. Their investigation led them to a story more extraordinary than any of the existing myths about the artist known as Rodriguez. This soundtrack consists of a selection of songs featured in the film but originally found on Rodriguez's records COLD FACT and COMING FROM REALITY.
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Thank you Rodriguez for this wonderful music.
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."
My friends and I kept our ears "down to the ground," but we never heard of him or anything from him.
I absolutely was riveted by the music I heard in the documentary and I bought this soundtrack (instead of the individual albums, primarily because I thought the artist might have a better shot at getting paid). After several listenings, I may have at least a partial answer as to why we never heard this music before.
The arrangements and mixing on Rodriguez's songs are so overblown and would have seemed even more so at time of the release of his albums. Here is this guy singing these incredible words he's written, playing his guitar to the incredible tunes he's created and it is all getting absolutely overwhelmed by strings and horns. I think the orchestration really gets in the way of this man's music; it often gives him a less contemporary sound, especially for the late 60's/early 70's. Had I heard him at the time these records came out, I might have really been turned off by the arrangements and missed the artist completely. With older ears, I am now able to distill him from the wall of sound on some of his recordings.
I don't know if this is the ultimate answer for his relative obscurity, but I have to believe it might be a factor.
That being said, it is a testament to the strength of his talent that Rodriguez as an artist is able to shine through the production. However, what I wouldn't give for Rodriguez to put out "naked" versions of Coming from Reality and Cold Fact!
Hats off to the film-makers and fans in other parts of the world who allowed us to hear and finally recognize this amazing American artist!