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16 Feb 2017

Rodriguez "Coming From Reality"1971 US Psych Folk Rock














Rodriguez  "Coming From Reality"1971 US Psych Folk Rock
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This is the second LP from a man and a voice who is a pleasantly original amalgam of Jose Feliciano, Donovan and Cat Stevens. There's something for everyone here. Two MOR efforts in "I Think Of You" and "To Whom It May Concern"; a "Season Of The Witch"-ish "Heikki's Suburbia Bus Tour" and a long FM narrative in "A Most Disgusting Song." Remaining numbers touch all the beautiful boundaries in between. Programmers of every classification should find something their listeners can get into here are the singer/songwriter with receive wide attention through these efforts.

For his second album, Rodriguez decamped to London at the request of producer Steve Rowland, who had heard Cold Fact and wanted to produce him. Since Cold Fact had made little in the way of commercial movement, Rodriguez jumped at the opportunity. Session musicians like renowned guitarist Chris Spedding lent a hand on production, which was overseen by Steve Rowland. (Curiously, the latter would go on to use about half of Cold Fact for Family Dogg's oddity The View from Roland's Head.) By far not as striking as his debut, Coming from Reality offers up some haunting stream-of-consciousness gems in "Sandrevan Lullaby" and "Cause." Rodriguez's lyrics still come off as mildly anti-establishment; "Heikki's Suburbia Bus Tour" apparently recalls a trip Rodriguez and friends undertook to Grosse Pointe to retaliate against the rich folks who often came to the inner city of Detroit to make fun of the hippies. He also spends lots of time with the low life, as he reminisces in the prologue to "A Most Disgusting Song": "I've played every kind of gig there is to play now/I've played faggot bars, hooker bars, motorcycle funerals, opera houses, concert houses, halfway houses." Slightly more slick than the debut, but still retaining the haunted personality (if not the gritty funk), the album sadly went nowhere in the United States and Europe. Faced, however, with the unexpected success of Cold Fact in South Africa, Sussex re-released Coming from Reality in 1976 as After the Fact. It lay out of print worldwide for several decades until 2009, when Light in the Attic resurrected it, along with the debut, and added three bonus tracks recorded during 1972-1973, back in Detroit, with Mike Theodore and Dennis Coffey again producing......by Quint Kik ................

Quite a change from Rodriguez's first album Cold Fact. On Cold Fact Rodriguez sang bitter, disillusioned songs about slums, drug abuse and broken love affairs. Something in between the two albums obviously changed his point of view because Coming From Reality consists mainly of love songs. And not the cynical odes to past affairs of Cold Fact - these ones are full-blown.

And even the social comment songs on the album seem less bitter and more resigned. The strings have been laid on with a heavy hand, on some tracks providing the only backing to Rodriguez's guitar and voice. But the voice shines through and the clever poetry on some tracks is as incisive as ever. Song to song we explore a great talent musician and have the chance -even almost four decades later- to discover his bright music.
by Roger Crosthwaite......

Back in 1971, Coming From Reality was Rodriguez's last gasp, the follow-up to Cold Fact and the final album he was allowed to record for the Sussex label. Unearthed, once again, by Light In The Attic Records, it's another treat for fans new and old, designed - at the time - as Rodriguez's vision of a perfect pop album.
Coming From Reality found Rodriguez decamping from Detroit to London's Lansdowne Studios, where the album was recorded with some of the UK's top talent including Chris Spedding (Sex Pistols, Dusty Springfield, Harry Nilsson) and producer Steve Rowland (The Pretty Things, PJ Proby and the man who discovered The Cure), who recalls Coming From Reality as his favourite ever recording project.
Highlights include the super-poppy "To Whom It May Concern", the "Rocky Raccoon"-inspired "A Most Disgusting Song" and period piece "Heikki's Suburbia Bus Tour". The CD reissue also includes three previously unreleased bonus tracks recorded in Detroit in 1972 with Cold Fact collaborators Mike Theodore & Dennis Coffey, representing the last thing they ever did together.
Meanwhile, the Rodriguez story keeps gathering pace. A Swedish documentary company are working on a feature length documentary about the enigmatic performer's life and music, and Rodriguez is planning to bring his live show to the UK and Europe come Spring/Summer 2009, along with further North America touring.
"It's an extraordinary trip," says Rodriguez of his new lease on life. "It feels like Picasso, Monet. All these exciting new thoughts coming at me. It's global. I'm lucky to have this second chance. It's very real and totally unexpected."
Sixto Rodriguez, then. Still coming from reality, and bigger than ever before.......

Detroit’s Sixto Rodriguez short-lived career had no place in the 1970s. While his debut album, Cold Fact, fell in line with the fuzzed-out, soulful grooves of the late ‘60s, his sound didn’t fare well with the developments in the early ‘70s. Although he was gritty, funky, and a talented wordslinger—one must take into consideration the cultural influence the album as an aesthetic expression was having in 1971, the year Rodriguez’s followup album, Coming from Reality, was thrown out into obscurity. With Led Zeppelin’s IV, the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, and Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On amongst the releases put out the same year, its easy to decipher why Coming from Reality was such a bomb stateside and in Europe. Although Rodriguez enjoyed a surprise following and sustainable career in South Africa, its safe to say the position he was in was not the most adept to longevity.

Another misstep that might have led to his hardship with Coming from Reality was his decision to leave former producer/guitarist Dennis Coffey (which in part, probably has something to do with the loss of the gritty, funky edge) and hightail it to London, where producer Steve Rowland had offered to produce his followup after being so enamored with Rodriguez’s sound on Cold Fact. Rowland took Rodriguez’s sound in a more cinematic direction, implementing the use of orchestral arrangements behind unadorned lead melodies and mellow, jangling acoustic guitars. He also always made sure the vocals were extremely dry and at the front of the mix, an execution used to put the focus on Rodriguez’s skill of waxing poetic. This very well could’ve had something to do with Rowland’s experience in the world of cinema, playing roles in prolific films such as The Thin Red Line and Crime in the Streets. He then enjoyed success on the Spanish charts and eventually became drawn to swingin’ ‘60s London, where he would produce many pop standards. Tying all this together, it may have sounded appealing to Rodriguez at the time after his commercial failure with Dennis Coffey, but as far as making a decision in the best interest of a long-standing career, it was near suicide.

The nearly two-minute intro of “Sandrevan Lullaby-Lifestyles” is a prime example of the aforementioned cinematic experience. It sounds less bohemian singer-songwriter, more neo-realist film score. Not that the latter direction is any less valid than the former, but for an artist who came screaming out of the gate on all cylinders to fall into something so rich and dramatic shows that he was possibly not content with his sound, and felt maybe taking a complete 180° would be the most viable option. Rodriguez’s intuition must have told him this after the release of Coming From Reality, because included with the reissue on Light in the Attic (the first time this release has seen the light of day in since 1976), are three bonus tracks recorded between 1972-73, once again with Dennis Coffey. “Slip Away” would have been the more logical progression from Cold Fact, and is frankly the best track included with the reissue, sporting minimal Latin percussive elements and a driving bass line that complement his voice and aggressive, off-kilter strumming effortlessly.

All in all, Coming from Reality is by no means a below-par album. Rodriguez’s songwriting is still on point, full of life and vigor in the way he expresses our everyday experiences and emotions. “Cause” may be the most lyrically adept track on the record, shining with lines such as “My heart’s become a crooked hotel / full of rumors” and “I make 16 solid half-hour friendships / every evening / because your queen of hearts who’s half a stone and likes to laugh alone / is always threatening you with leavin”. Rodriguez has that rare quality in squeezing out words at a mile a minute. Unlike Dylan’s disciples, his lyrics are on a much more direct, blue-collar basis. There’s hardly any interpretation or beating around the bush, just an introspective look in layman’s terms of the world and its everyday irregularities.

Where Coming from Reality fails, Cold Fact succeeded—unfortunately, its not the other way around. Thankfully, there aren’t many points where Coming From Reality fails, still making it an interesting, if not vital listen for fans of his previous work. With the recent resurgence of his work due to Light in the Attic’s lovely reissues (the vinyl comes with a bonus 7”, for you wax junkies), maybe Rodriguez has another album in him. With the little interest Light in the Attic has in commercial viability, he would be free to explore any sonic palette he so desired, and release it to a native US audience that would finally be responsive.....

Sixto Rodriguez may represent the most unlikely disinterral of hidden hippie rock genius since the likes of Drake and Buckley became household names.

Thankfully, he's still alive, and has even started gigging again since last year's successful reissue of his 1970 debut Cold Fact, which revealed the Detroit-based Chicano songwriter to be a true original operating decades ahead of his time. This London-recorded follow-up from 1971 doesn't hit the same heights, aiming instead for a populist sound that might re-position him to take advantage of the burgeoning singer-songwriter boom. On the opening "Climb Up On My Music", the result is akin to a more cynical-sounding James Taylor, with biting barbs of lead guitar (Chris Spedding, perhaps?) snagging the acoustic guitar and electric piano arrangement. "A Most Disgusting Song" offers a spoken-blues depiction of urban detritus, but thereafter the album slips into a formula of folksy acoustic guitar embellished with strings. But Rodriguez's ambitiously florid imagery sustains one's interest, with flashes of acid poetry alongside expressions of social concern like the advice given to "Street Boy", "you need love and understanding, not that dead-end life you're planning". All still true..................

Tracks
1.Climb Up On My Music - 4:43
2.A Most Disgusting Song - 4:43
3.I Think Of You - 3:19
4.Heikki's Suburbia Bus Tour - 3:15
5.Silver Words - 2:04
6.Sandrevan Lullaby-Lifestyles - 6:37
7.To Whom It May Concern - 3:15
8.It Started Out So Nice - 3:46
9.Halfway Up The Stairs - 2:17
10.Cause - 5:27
11.Can't Get Away - 3:57
12.Street Boy - 3:47
13.I'll Slip Away - 2:53


Musicians
*Rodriguez - Vocals, Guitar
*Chris Spedding - Guitars
*Tony Carr - Bongos
*Phil Dennys - Keyboards
*Jimmy Horowitz - Violin
*Gary Taylor - Bass
*Andrew Steele - Drums

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