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Thursday, 16 February 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 ....~
watch...A chronological history of Rodriguez: the man, the myth, the music 

This once-forgotten Detroit singer-songwriter mellows out on his second reissued album."I've played every kind of gig there is to play now," intones Sixto Rodriguez on the track "A Most Disgusting Song". "I've played faggot bars, hooker bars, motorcycle funerals... in opera houses, concert halls, halfway houses." Not sure where opening up for Animal Collective in Chicago this past January ranks on that list, but it's a safe bet his booking agent has a bit more pull these days. The once-obscure Detroit singer-songwriter is enjoying a reissue-fueled second chapter in his career-- third, if you count his cult status in Australia and South Africa-- and is finally receiving critical reception a few decades after the fact. Not bad for someone once billed under the silly pseudonym Rod Riguez because a producer/label owner "didn't want to take a chance" that his artist would be pigeonholed by the public. 

A big part of his appeal is his urban poet-style social observations, frank lyrics laid bluntly over folk-rock strumming, funky riffs, and intriguing instrumentation. Coming From Reality, originally released in 1971 and the follow-up to Cold Fact, loses some of the grittiness and directness of his debut, never striking the same balance of eclectic arrangements, reverb-heavy vocals and flourishes achieved while working with the production team of Detroit vets Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore. Washed out a bit by soft, sometimes airy strings and lacking a killer single like the drug dealer-themed "Sugar Man", it doesn't hit quite as hard. But it's a decent addition to the singer's relatively scant output. 

Recorded in London with producer Steve Rowland, a former Hollywood actor who would later discover and sign the Cure, Coming From Reality suffered from the change in studio and scenery. Opener "Climb Up on My Music" is a mellow, organ-heavy Steppenwolf/Santana jam with a screaming guitar riff and "Halfway Up the Stairs" exudes a sweet, cheesy 70s soft rock vibe. Rodriguez still delivers some pointed observations on tracks like "Street Boy", one of a trio of solid bonus cuts recorded in 1972-1973 with Coffey and Theodore, and "A Most Disgusting Song", a droll, overly long country-tinged narration told from the vantage point of a dive bar. But they're thinned out by songs like "It Started Out So Nice", a string-laden tale filled with some obscure myth-like references, and "Heikki's Suburbia Bus Tour", a rip on suburban life with an awkward chorus and a tired dig on lawn care. On the plaintive "I Think of You", his voice leans too much towards James Taylor softness, and lyrics like "Baby I ain't joking/ And it's not what I'm smoking/ But I really think you're nice" from "Silver Words?" which sounds like a tired Seth Rogen come-on, are a bit weak. When Rodriguez's pastiche of styles coalesces, the music occupies an interesting niche at the crossroads of late-60s/early-70s music. But the second trip to the archives is a case of diminishing returns.....by Patrick Sisson...Pitchfork....~ 


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...~

Digitally remastered and expanded reissue of his 1971 album. Coming from Reality is another treat for fans new and old, designed 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 and producer Steve Rowland), who recalls Coming from Reality as his all time favorite recording project. The reissue also includes three previously unreleased bonus tracks recorded in Detroit in 1972 with Cold Fact collaborators Mike Theodore and Dennis Coffey, representing the last thing the trio ever did together. 13 tracks...~.


I won't add to the already wonderful reviews written here. They are all correct. I do marvel that we in the USA collectively missed this remarkable talent for so long. But life is enriched through mystery and the story of Sixto Rodriguez is that rare and wonderful sequence of unlikely and improbable events that simultaneously saddens, enlightens, perplexes and inspires. The real power of this tale comes from within the core of the man himself. He is perhaps the most legitimately humble and contented human being I have ever seen. He projects an almost Shaman-like aura. Even in the cold light of day his rediscovery leaves him as mysterious as his long abscence. I can only imaging the holy spell he must have cast on South African audiences appearing Lazarus-like after surviving obscurity, poverty and rumors of suicide. Cold fact-I love it. ..by... Dale Lawrence ...~


You could say that the good news is the bad news concerning this long-overdue reissue, since with its release the entire recorded output of Detroit singer/songwriter Sixto Rodriguez is available to the public for the first time in over thirty-five years. That output consists of exactly two albums - 1970's COLD FACT and this 1971 follow-up - as well as three additional songs recorded later and first released many years after that. Not much of a catalogue, especially for one of the most unique and worthwhile songsmiths of the past four decades. 
I've already touched on the mystery of Rodriguez - which, thanks to the extensive liner notes in these reissues, is no longer that much of a mystery - in my review of FACT, so I'll refer the curious to that nonpareil gem of musical criticism and get right down to brass tacks. COMING from REALITY is a fully worthy successor to FACT, with all of its creator's dizzying wordplay and compositional acumen intact, but it's also a very different album in many respects. Recorded in London with British session musicians and a full string section, REALITY inhabits a separate sonic territory from that of its Motor City predecessor. It's also a good deal less eclectic, which helps to enhance its "album feel" but also casts its weaker moments in sharper relief - not that there are all that many of them. 
"Climb Up on My Music" is a tough, driving opener, instantly establishing that blown-glass balance of pop accessibility and esoteric intelligence which has always distinguished the greatest songwriters. "A Most Disgusting Song" is in fact a spoken poem (Proto-rap?) of deceptively humorous twists, while "And I Think of You" is one of Rodriguez's most affecting ballads, a lost love tale equal in its naked sentiment and plausibility to FACT's brief, brilliant "Forget It." "Heikki's Suburbia Bus Tour" brings on the social commentary which dominates the latter half of REALITY in its surreal story of middle America remade as a tourist attraction. "Silver Words?" is a lightweight love song, cute enough but probably a bit too happy for its own good. 
Side two of the original LP opens with "Sandrevan Lullabye - Lifestyles," Rodriguez's longest track and a beautifully bitter assault on society's failures effectively sandwiched between two heavily orchestrated instrumental sections. "To Whom It May Concern" is the "snap out of it" tune on this collection, and like most such numbers it doesn't add terribly much. "It Started Out So Nice," however, is powerful stuff, juxtaposing a mythical yesterday of poetic prettiness against the dashed hopes of the present with the aid of a lovely and unintrusive string backing. "Halfway Up the Stairs" is pure fluff, but its mindless positivity almost makes sense as a prelude and first aid kit for "'Cause," Rodriguez's lyrical magnum opus and the most sublimely realized rumination on the very real horrors of human existence you're ever likely to hear. This song makes "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" sound like "Old MacDonald" and closes REALITY with nothing whatsoever left to say. 
Not on this CD, however. The final fragments of Rodriguez's musical oeuvre have been appended to his final album for this release, and the listener benefits greatly as a result. Recorded in 1972 or '73 (presumably as the kernel of a planned third album which, like the man's work en toto, was regrettably nipped in the bud), "Can't Get Away," "Street Boy" and "I'll Slip Away" are all winners, the first continuing the episodic social criticism of earlier songs but with a more personalized slant; the second a tuneful, undramatized portrait of a lost soul; and the last a clever farewell number in the best Rodriguez fashion - first class all the way. 
Where COLD FACT enjoys that peculiar perfect beauty which only pure accident can achieve, COMING from REALITY makes a concerted effort to be beautiful; and while it succeeds much of the time - resulting in several tracks which are, if anything, stronger than even FACT's best material - there's no denying that it's the patchier half of the pair overall. Nevertheless, "'Cause" and the bonus tracks easily elevate this disc to five-star status, as does the sheer inescapable quality of the artist. I cannot possibly recommend both Rodriguez albums highly enough to anyone reading this. The chance to grab the complete works of a man whose music can comfortably rub shoulders with that of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen or Bruce Springsteen in two easy purchases is not one to be missed. We are all the poorer for the long and storied career Sixto Rodriguez should have had; but we are certainly the richer for having what little there was of that career within reach once again....Richard B. Luhrs...~


Rodriguez is a wonderful, mysterious artist of old that done something so great with his music 40 years ago that it shook the world of the South African Nation's youth movement and helped shape the Country's future with the falling of apartheid. And he didn't even know it. Our United States didn't know it. We didn't even know him, really. But now that his music has surfaced, thanks to the movie: "Searching for Sugar man", we can certainly see just why his music was so loved over there and how it could have and did move a young culture in South Africa to help inspire them to change the Nation for the better. These songs are moving. They tell stories that are relative to personal levels of our lives as well as much larger, deeper issues that an entire Nation can interpret to being a narration of their political lives. Buy this wonderful album. It along with his other album, "Cold Fact", will be like finding and possessing two diamonds amongst a handful of CZ's.....by  Steve.....~ 

I can't really say which one is better, Cold Fact or Coming From Reality. I happened to hear the latter first, that is why I have never listened to this album with a 'let's see if this is worth the more famous predecessor' attitude. It is evident that Rodriguez's key track remains on the debut (I am talking about "Sugar Man" of course), but there are nice picks here as well. I especially like "I Think of You" and "To Whom It May Concern." The rocking "Heikki's Suburbia Bus Tour" is not much worse (side note: the man mentioned in the lyrics is said to be Estonian, but Heikki is a Finnish name, while the Estonians pronounce their name version similarly but spell it differently – 'Heiki'). I am not very fond of "A Most Disgusting Song" (well, it isn't disgusting, but it is slightly annoying), and "Sandrevan Lullaby – Lifestyles" feels overlengthy. Otherwise, Coming From Reality might even deserve a better rating, or then not, I am not sure.....by....fairyeee .....~

I'm not saying anything groundbreaking here, but obviously this album isn't the behemoth that was Cold Fact. It's hard to follow up such a stunning, evocative album with something equal (even if it was criminally underrated). So I'm not surprised that the resulting album was a step back. Despite this, we catch flashes of that Rodriguez greatness here. "Sandrevan Lullaby - Lifestyles" is very much reminiscent of Rodriguez's debut, but the song you expect to hear is cushioned on either side with some strange instrumentation choices. The song lengths are also higher on this album (most of the tracks on the debut were under 3 minutes in length, here we see only two such tracks). Now, this isn't good or bad necessarily, but I think it might indicate a bit too much indulgence in extra production and instrumentation. Which definitely gets us away from what made Rodriguez so awesome - simple acoustic guitar songs with a focus on great lyrics. Is this a gross generalization? Yes? Do songs like "Sugar Man" and "Crucify Your Mind" completely go against most of what I just said? To an extent (but I would hardly compare some brass on "Sugar Man" to some of the outlandish string arrangements here). Also, "A Most Distgusting Song" is just bad. Period. The whole talking-instead-of-singing thing doesn't work well on the track, and the lyrics aren't that hot either. 

This review is probably a lot more negative than I actually view the album. There is some very good music here. "Cause" is amazing, for example. ...by...ListyGuy...~

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.....by...Andy Gill ...independed....~

My fancy has been ensnared by Rodriguez ever since I saw Searching for Sugarman and then ordered both Cold Fact and Coming from Reality. The songs have been working their roots into my being ever since and equally so has Rodriguez, the person...because of his equanimity, charm, soulfulness, humility, gracefulness, graciousness and all of the other attributes we are getting a peek at through his many recent interviews. I agree with the review that Coming from Reality is patchier. Cold Fact is a flat out masterpiece as a whole while Coming from Reality has masterpiece songs ...Cause is reason enough to buy this album ...so is Sandrevan Lullaby-Lifestyles. Listen to Rodriguez's own words when you start comparing him to Dylan. Rodriguez has said it is ludicrous and it is. Dylan has recorded hundreds and I mean hundreds of songs. The depth and breadth of Dylan's talent is unparalleled. But, that doesn't 
mean that Rodriguez hasn't written a handful of songs that stand up to Dylan's...he has. I think Dylan would embrace Rodriguez wholly and am surprised he didn't play Rodriguez's music on Theme Time Radio Hour! As far as Rodriguez not making it in America...when you apply critical thinking you can see that he is one of more than thousands of artists who for a number or reasons and bad luck didn't. It is beyond comprehension almost that he could be such a star elsewhere and not know it...and not see a penny in royalties...that is the part that throws me to the floor and creates the backdrop to the story. I love Rodriguez's music and will see him in April if all goes well. I also want to say that every song he covers tells me more about the man, too, and he has not made a misstep.....By Greensboro Nancy....~ 


Musicians 

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


FOR EVERY MUSICIAN who ever achieved his rock-star dreams, there are scores of equally deserving artists who for one reason or another remain obscure — not even footnotes in rock history. DJs didn’t play their singles, labels didn’t push their albums, or audiences just weren’t ready for their ahead-of-its-time music. 

Such as the case for Rodriguez, a Detroit troubadour who recorded two highly praised but poorly selling albums of spiritually curious, musically confident, and psychedelically inventive folk rock, then more or less disappeared. 

Last year, Seattle-based label Light in the Attic reissued Rodriguez‘s 1969 debut, “Cold Fact,” and is following it up with an equally well-appointed edition of his 1971 follow-up, “Coming From Reality.” 

This time, he had an audience: older listeners from Rodriguez’s era as well as “youngbloods” (as he calls them) who weren’t even alive in 1969 but are bringing new energy and new ideas to rock music. 

“We’re picking up people who have heard the material and we’re picking up people who are new to it,” says Rodriguez. “I’m playing at the top of the food chain.”...by...By Stephen M. Deusner..Washington Post...~ 


Amazing Psych-folk pop album reissued by Light In The Attic from cult musician Rodriguez! Coming from Reality was the 1971 follow up to Rodriguez' Cold Fact album, and the final one he was allowed to record for the Sussex label. 




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 



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