Rodriguez - The Myths and The Mystery

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Madiba website, October 1996

Rodriguez --- Cult or Crap? The Cold Facts
by Stephen "Sugar" Segerman

During November 1996 the third in the trilogy ofRodriguez LPs "The Best of Rodriguez" will be released in SouthAfrica on CD for the first time.

Earlier in '96 the previously unavailable "Afterthe Fact/Coming From Reality" joined "ColdFact" on the CD shelves after Polygram, recognising the huge demandfor this LP, launched a search to find a usable copy of what proved tobe an extremely rare record. "Cold Fact"has sold steadily through the years and "Afterthe Fact" has proved equally successful, hence the release ofthe "Best" CD. Now if you grew up in S.A. during the 70s thenthis could be major news especially if you now live overseas because withthe exception of a few sightings in Zimbabwe, Australia and New Zealand,these three LPs have been almost totally unknown and unavailable anywhereelse in the world.

There are no references to Rodriguez or his workin any of the rock (or general music) reference books. Originally releasedon Buddah Records in the U.S.A., the masters of the three LPs became theproperty of A & M Records when they bought Buddah Records. The threeLPs were subsequently pressed and released in S.A. For an assortment ofreasons, of the three, "Cold Fact"achieved the most success and sold like the proverbial bushfire.It nestled in the record collections of practically every home that alreadyhad "Abbey Road", "Bridge over Troubled Water", "Aqualung","Leonard Cohen's Greatest Hits" and "Harvest". It featureda nasal Hispanic-American singing sweet but vitriolic folk-songs about"DRUCKS", unrequited lust and big city misery; but everyone aroundhere knew all the words and would sing along without having any idea whatRodriguez was really moaning about.

When "Cold Fact"first appeared on CD, it found many of the S.A. Baby Boomers living ina multitude of new (adopted ) countries where Rodriguez was as well knownas Bles Bridges; so the locally pressed CD was soon on the list of thingsto be sent to family and friends overseas, that were "unavailableanywhere" like fishpaste and biltong.. Hearing "Sugar Man, won't youhurry, cause I`m tired of these scenes" is like closing your eyes,clicking your heels together and zooming off back to the old homesteadlike Dorothy did, and that essentially is it's appeal. When "Afterthe Fact" first appeared on CD, it attracted a critical responselargely, and adversely, centering on the fact that Rodriguez (like CatStevens) was just 70's crap and deserves no more mystical perusing then"Tea for the Tillerman" does.

To them I say "Well Iwonder how many times you've been had, and I wonder if all your dreamshave gone bad…." There is something in these records that resistsanalysis and objectivity, you just had to be there! "Afterthe Fact" is mostly as unknown as "ColdFact" is known, so it should be interesting to see how it`s judgedby "The old fans". It is a strong LP and bears close comparisonwith "Cold Fact". "The Bestof Rodriguez" contains songs mostly from the two "Fact"LPs with a few rarities thrown in.

Who Rodriguez was or is remains a mystery with even the record companiesstill religiously paying royalties to an unknown source or recipient somewherein the USA. A query about Rodriguez recently appeared in Qmagazine. A search on the Net has been underwayfor some time now as to any information about Rodriguez but none's beenforthcoming. Still, as with all musical mysteries and taste disputes, thebottom line is the music and you'll just have to judge this for yourselvesby buying and listening to these CDs and that, as Rodriguez says is "Aconcrete cold fact !!!!"

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