Sixto Rodriguez – Cold Fact

Wednesday night ended up being much drunker this week than I expected…but I’ve really come to enjoy the idea of the mid week tension breaker. Billy and Brian showed up around 9ish and started in on the beers and Sailor Jerry. Then Deven appeared after 11 with two old friends Crum and Tyo (their last names…not their first.)

Tyo is what we call a magnificent asshole. The kind of guy who will tell you exactly what he thinks, regardless of the situation…then tells you to fuck off. I love him anyway because he has one of the sickest collections of sixties era furniture I’ve ever seen, and he collects the most disgusting high-end audio equipment you could imagine. The kind of shit that was designed in Germany and costs several grand.  Jeff buys that stuff like groceries.

But Tyo has a real thirst for funk and jazz, like myself…and Wednesday night found us deep in my loft digging through said sections for treasure and playing a little game of “have you heard this?” One of the albums I pulled out was Sixto Rodriguez’s 1970 album “Cold Fact.”

Unless you’re one of the crate diggers over at Soul Strut, or fan of finding obscure music, you probably don’t know Sixto, but that’s why I’m here, and why I write about this kind of thing. It deserves to be known. It doesn’t seem to fall into any particular genre, but seems to borrow a little from the latin, funk, folk and psyche categories and forms a unique creature of it’s own.

Sixto was born in Detroit, the son of middle class Mexican immigrants.  In 1967 he released his first single ‘I’ll Slip Away’ under the name of Rod Riguez on the Impact Label.  It would be another three years before he released anything else, and not until he signed on to Sussex records where he cut two albums: “Cold Fact’ and ‘Coming From Reality’.  But although of high quality, neither album took off.  Most critics didn’t get it and the album sold poorly, leading the label to drop Sixto who subsequently gave up his career as a musician.

But then something strange happened.  He albums began to gain steam over seas in countries like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. By 1975 the original run of “Cold Fact’ was sold out and an Australian label called Blue Goose Music bought the Australian rights to Sixto’s catalog, giving both albums their first major label release.  This was all news to Sixto, who discovered that his album had gone platinum in South Africa.  He toured Australia twice, once in 1979 then again in 1981 before he went home and resumed a normal life.

With a voice somewhere between Cat Stevens and Jose Feliciano, Sixto’s music definitely falls under the label of ‘deep’ with his semi political leanings and social commentary.  The best album cuts include the smooth ‘Sugar Man’ (which you may recall from the Heath Ledger movie: Candy ) my favorite ‘This Is Not A Song, It’s An Outburst’ and ‘Rich Folks Hoax.’

And of his two albums, “Cold Fact” remains the best.  Sixto can still be found playing occasionally under the name Rodriguez…although mainly in Australia.  Check it out, folks.


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