Monday, June 21, 2010

Rodriguez - Cold Fact


It's not that I really need this CD in our collection; it's just that it takes me back to a time when I was just out of school and discovering what it was like to be an adult.  Not that I was terribly grown-up, you understand, but this album spent a lot of time on our turntables back then, where we discussed what it all meant in deep and meaningful tones, often when slightly or hugely inebriated.

Mostly unknown in his native US, Rodriguez has a cult following in South Africa and was also pretty well-kown in Australia.  Listening to the music now, there's so much I love about the songs Sugar Man, Establishment Blues and I Wonder, but it's the love you have for a classic album.  In fact, I was struck by the resemblance to a lot of Cat Stevens' output.  (Memo: add Tea for the Tillerman to that ever-expanding list)

Another man-and-guitar touchstone for me.  More loved for its wistfully-nostalgic feel than for any real appreciation of the music, some of which I have to admit sounds, well, really '70s.



I remember a bit of fuss being made about this man, particularly of his song Sugar Man, which I kind of recall from when I was a teenager.  But I was a rock fan back then and generally loud, teenage boy rock too.  Cold Fact just never made it on to my radar.

What surpirsed me is reading about how long it took for this album to achieve success and just how popular he was outside of the US (and how little he knew of his popularity).  It took the better part of a decade for Cold Fact to make an impact and, when it did, it was initially in Australia and New Zealand.  But it wasn't until nearly thirty years after its release that his daughter discovered a fan site in South Africa and found out about his huge fan base there as well.

Listening to Cold Fact for this review, I can understand why it's considered a classic.  There is an honesty about Rodriguez' voice and the songs he writes.  The recordings are rough and ready but also very honest. As a snapshot, it's a great document to the times both musically and in a wider context.  However, as Mine has so rightly pointed out, it is a product of its time and sounds very dated.  Having said this, it's a fascinating listen.


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