Searching For Sugar Man
added: 10 Jan 2013
// release date: 27 Dec 2012 // label: Light In The Attic Records / Sony Music
reviewer: Claudia A
Rock n roll is filled with the strangest stories, but the story of lost and found singer Sixto Rodriguez
has got to be amongst the strangest! If you want to find out just how strange, then I urge you to watch the widely acclaimed music-docu Searching For Sugar Man
To coincide with the movie’s recent release, there’s a Motion Picture Soundtrack available - comprising fourteen songs by the enigma that is Rodriguez. The tracks are a selection from his albums ‘Cold Fact’
(originally released in March 1970) and ‘Coming From Reality’
(originally released in November 1971), plus three later songs from 72 and 73.
Thanks to the movie in particular, the Detroit-based folk-rock balladeer currently enjoys a revival – almost four decades after his short-lived career back in the States.
With his distinctive and slightly nasal voice, his acoustic guitar and a knack for poetic as well as politically engaged lyrics, Rodriguez was at one point hailed as the new Bob Dylan
. Forever championing the underdog and taking a stance against oppressors, his songs tend to serve a cause. A talent in his own right, this Hispanic Dylan is someone who deserves the attention and appreciation he was denied in the 1970’s.
Supported by an array of backing musicians (Chris Spedding
amongst them) and a further array of various instruments, each and every song on the album is a winner.
While the title song bears a more gritty undertone in so far that it’s about drugs, Rodriguez’ often sardonic word-play is exemplified on ‘Crucify Your Mind’ - “Soon you know I’ll leave you, and I’ll never look behind, cause I was born for the purpose that crucifies you're your mind.”
If the former is a prime example of the artist’s sardonic wit, then ‘Cause’ could easily serve as a prime example of his general wordsmith skills: “Cause I lost my job two weeks before Christmas / And I talked to Jesus at the sewer / And the Pope said it was none of his God-damned business / While the rain drank champagne / My Estonian Archangel came and got me wasted / Cause the sweetest kiss I ever got is the one I've never tasted… “
‘I Wonder’ is a number full of soul and lush rhythm, while the melodious ‘Janis’ certainly takes a bow at Dylan. Or Janis!
The rather long-windedly titled ‘This Is Not A Song, It’s An Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues’ is as direct as it is self-explanatory, in fact, I’m certain that quite a few souls can relate to it.
Heartfelt and emotional, ‘I Think Of You’ is one of those love songs that, at the same time, manage to install a grain of doubt. It gets more complex on ‘Inner City Blues’. The composition gradually adds the layers… first guitar and bass, then strings and horn… It’s an effective build-up, and executed in perfect harmony.
‘Sandrevan Lullaby – Lifestyles’ drifts between mellow and melancholic, emphasized through a gorgeous violin sound by one Jimmy Horowitz
. Check this one out by candlelight!
However, Rodriguez’ piece de réstistance
has got to be ‘A Most Disgusting Song’ – a seemingly autobiographical mock-tirade/mock-lament performed via spoken word rather than sung ones. It’s a tale of bitterness, amusement and frustration alike. The singer tells of all the weird venues he’s played at, and describes some of the more colourful folks amongst his audience. It’s like listening to an audio recording of Charles Bukowski
or Hubert Selby
, and really, Rodriguez has such a talent to make his characters come to life.
A wonderful album and a great re-discovery of a long lost genius, it’s equally great to know that Sixto Rodriguez receives royalties from the sale of this release.
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