A relatively unknown musician from the early-'70s that's gained popularity stateside over the last ten years just got the remastered treatment with two new reissues available on CD and 180-gram vinyl. And they're available right now.
When I mention Sixto Rodriguez to anyone I know, I get blank stares. I've even talked with a few record store owners about the musician, and they've never heard of him either. If Rodriguez put out just one album, I could believe it, but he released two rock albums in the US filled with psychedelic folk and pop that made a perfect winning combination back then.
While he was an obscure artist — and still is to some — his albums are must-haves for anyone who considers themselves a musicophile, melomaniac, or discophile. His music is melodically simple but full of socially conscious anthems about poverty, love, rebellion, and the streets of Detroit, Michigan, where he was born and raised. If you like Donovan, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, and other music from the late-'60s and early-'70s, you're probably going to like Rodriguez.
And I'm not the only one that would tell you that. While initially bombs in the US, his debut 1970 "Cold Fact" and 1971 follow-up "Coming from Reality" found success in the late-'70s in Australia, where "Cold Fact" hit platinum. In South Africa, he became a rock legend on par with Elvis Presley, and it wasn't until 1997 that he even knew. There was even a 2012 Academy Award-winning documentary called "Searching for Sugar Man" that finally gave him some love in the States.
Almost 50 years later, his albums don't sound dated, and reissues of "Cold Fact" and "Coming from Reality" from Sussex Records are available to order on Amazon and in other stores. Remastered on 180-gram vinyl, they released on August 30, 2019, and you can get both for just over $20 each. If you still prefer the sound of vinyl over digital music when it comes to '70s rock, these are classics you can't pass up.
- Buy for $21.49: "Cold Fact" 12-inch LP, 33 rpm record
- Buy for $21.49: "Coming from Reality" 12-inch LP, 33 rpm record
For more on Rodriguez's unusual backstory and rise to fame, check out the book "Sugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez."
To get the best experience with these albums, you'll need a good turntable with a decent needle and high-quality speakers. There are many speaker options you can choose from. As for turntables, the Audio-Technica ATLP120USB is the best at its price point of $200–$250. If that's a bit much, the Victoria Vintage 3-Speed Suitcase Turntable is an excellent entry-level player at under $50. The ION Audio Max LP Turntable is a decent in-between option at under $190.