Cold Fact (Light in the Attic)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Sept. 5, 2008
RodriguezCold Fact (Light in the Attic)
This 1970 gem of a debut from Detroit singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, who only cut two LPs, was largely ignored stateside and became a mysterious underground sensation in apartheid South Africa, striking a contemporary chord with its street-tough lyricism and psychedelic folk arrangements. "Hate Street Dialogue," "Jane S. Piddy," and particularly "This Is Not a Song, It's an Outburst: Or, the Establishment Blues" mirror Dylan's vintage spite, poetic but more concretely grounded in the struggles of the Motor City. Rodriguez's voice floats easily between Cat Stevens ("Forget It") and Ian Anderson ("Only Good for Conversation"), with touches of Arthur Lee, while Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore's production and arrangements balance bursts of bruising distortion and effects, horns, and the smooth pop of "I Wonder" and "Like Janis." Opener "Sugar Man" alone should have canonized Rodriguez, the junkie's lament issued through morphine strings atop an acoustic strum. A revelation of what could have been.