“…Climb up on my music and my songs will set you free…”
Originally appeared on SugarMan.org
Probably Rodriguez’s most well-known song. Rodriguez himself is also often referred to as The Sugar Man. A great song with superb instrumentation. This slow bluesy rock song is a paean to his drug dealer, however Rodriguez said on a TV interview in March 1998 that this song is “descriptive not prescriptive”. Great imagery and use of hippy slang, like “silver magic ships” and “sweet Mary Jane”, ensure the listeners’ interest. The psychedelic freak-out section in the middle reminds me of similar sections in Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and Uriah Heep’s ‘Gypsy’.
– Brian Currin, 1998
“Cold Fact” opens with the ultra trippy Sugar Man, which may well have been straight out of an acid trip. “Sugar man met a false friend on a lonely dusty road, lost my heart, when I found it, it had turned to dead black coal” suggests just where exactly the inspiration came from as he goes on to list jumpers, coke and sweet Mary Jane. More than any other Rodriguez song, it is Sugar Man which personifies the artist in the minds of those who have always wondered. The eerie moog synthesizer, whistling in the background, the lazy and simple guitar chords and the dreamy nasal voice place the listener firmly in an era of fantasy. It sets a perfect tone for the album and the myth.
– Andrew Bond, 1998
I’m not for drugs, I never advocated drug taking
– Rodriguez, March 1998
What’s that song about anyway?
– Rodriguez, 22 September 2001
This track was the first encore song on the 1998 South African tour. It was preceded by much chanting of “Su-gar Man, Su-gar Man…”. Were we calling for the song or the Man? Who knows, but he came and he sang and we loved it.
South African band Just Jinger also did a great cover of this song on their March 1998 EP “Something For Now”.
There have also been cover versions recorded by American band The Monkey Wrench and Australian band Stella One Eleven.
Kris Kristofferson recorded a completely different song called “Sugar Man” in 1972. Released on the “Jesus Was A Capricorn” album.
In 1991 The Escape Club also recorded a song titled “Sugar Man” (no relation to the Rodriguez song) on their “Dollars And Sex” CD.
In 2001 Rapper Nas sampled “Sugar Man” for his “You’re Da Man” track off “Stillmatic”.
In the December 2002 issue of UK music mag, MOJO, in the list “The 100 Greatest Drug Songs Ever!” “Sugarman” was at number 34.
You’d Like To Admit It
Extremely rare b-side of a seven single recorded in 1967 and credited to Rod Riguez.
This classic folk-rock song is the one that most people seem to associate with Rodriguez. Used as the show opener on the 1998 and 2001 SA tours. Simple in composition but penetrating in it’s lyrics.
It came as no surprise then that when “Cold Fact” hit the record racks, it became a hit, simply because it contained a phrase which would muddy the country’s sexually chaste waters and serve as a mantra to the youth: I wonder, how many times you’ve had sex…
– Craig Bartholomew, 1997
Generation EXT’s slow hip-hop rap version of I Wonder was released on the compilation CD “Dance Connexion 17” in September 1998.
Only Good For Conversation
Classic fuzz metal guitar riff by Dennis Coffey opens this song, reminds me of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke On The Water’. A harsh bitter song of lost love (..you’re the coldest bitch I know..), this track really rocks! Great bass line and a superb guitar solo.
– Brian Currin, 1998
Climb Up On My Music
My favourite Rodriguez song and also one of my all-time favourite songs. Brilliant title and great lyrics. Excellent rock guitar from Chris Spedding and jazzy piano (by Phil Dennys?) make this song a classic. Wonderful production by Steve Rowland and superb stereo imaging.
Listen to it!!
When performed live on the 1998 South African tour this track became a classic rock song of anthemic proportions. Willem Möller’s guitar solo is one of my magic moments in music.
– Brian Currin, 1998
A wonderful instrumental duet for acoustic guitar and violin. Used as the intro for “Lifestyles”. Written by Rodriguez for his 2 daughters, Sandra and Eva. Sometimes mistitled as Sundrevan Lullaby.
…the musical part of Sandrevan Lullaby touches my heart (named after my sister Sandra and me)…
– Eva Rodriguez, 1997
Rehearsed for the 1998 SA tour, but not performed (I know ‘coz I was there!)
– Brian Currin, 1998
Rich Folks Hoax
Great song, what more can I say – listen to the words.
Craig Bartholomew told me that in 1987 when he was busking his way around Spain, this song received the best response, and the most money into his open guitar case!
Covered by Amanda Strydom in September 2003.
– Brian Currin, 2003
Hate Street Dialogue
Not written by Rodriguez, but sure sounds like it could have been. “Hate Street Dialogue” actually refers to the famous “Haight/Ashbury” area of San Francisco, the famous Hippie hang-out during the late 60s “Summer Of Love”.
…for years the title Hate Street Dialogue has been bothering me, when I listened to the song I gathered the lyrics were referring to the famous hippie street in San Francisco: Haight/Ashbury, however the title on the album is spelt “Hate”. Rodriguez said (on a South African radio phone-in show in March 1998) that although the lyrics of that particular song were not written by himself they did refer to the Haight and not to the opposite of love.
– Stelios, 1998
Read the full amazing story of Hate Street Dialogue.
Jane S Piddy
Could this be “Janis Pity” – a sort of tribute to Janis Joplin? Read the lyrics and see the similarity to Janis and her lifestyle. Lyrics like “now you sit there thinking, feeling insecure…” and “…don’t bother to buy insurance, coz you’ve already died…”. Great imagery and biting prose. Read more about this song and ‘Like Janis’.
To Whom It May Concern (1979 live version)
A wonderful, almost progressive rock version with jazz-blues flute and even a bass solo. Recorded in Australia in 1979. This track is over 8 minutes long and the band is introduced on this song.
Really great version.
Heikki’s Suburbia Bus Tour
After a conversation with my father, I wanted to share a short story…
In the sixties, there were these people called hippies. It can be said that a long hair, dark skin, free thinking musician, like Rodriguez could have been labelled one. In my youth, I recall hearing about how the “rich folks” (those living in the suburbs), would come down to the inner city of Detroit to actually see these “oddities” in their natural environment. Maybe even take a picture or two. This happened to be my neighborhood and some of my people.
Rodriguez had a very good friend named Heikki. I remember a large man with long blond/brown hair. He had a very nice home, a wife named Linda and two huge bull mastiff dogs. Despite stereotypes, Heikki was a mathematician from “Estonia” (Estonia is a republic in North-Eastern Europe, near Finland) who rode a classic motorcycle. In fact, one of the places that Rodriguez played, a “motorcycle funeral”, was for one of Heikki’s friends. The motorcycle club was called “The Penetrators”.
Anyway, someone had made fun of Rodriguez’s friend. Protective of Heikki’s feelings, Rodriguez organized what I consider to be a peaceful form of retaliation. A bus was chartered, full of hippies, four gallons of wine, etc. The group went to Grosse Point, Michigan and surrounding areas where they visited suburbian malls and neighborhoods on a tour of their own. The rest, is in the music. The story made the newspapers in Detroit and also reached Florida (a southern U.S. state).
– Eva Rodriguez, 1997
A Most Disgusting Song
In “A Most Disgusting Song” the people are like someone we all know. I think it was a depiction of a place Rodriguez played, a bar called “The Sewer” near the Detroit River, that was demolished a long time ago (In the song “Cause” Rodriguez speaks to Jesus (his brother?) at the Sewer). One of the places that Rodriguez played, a “motorcycle funeral”, was for one of Heikki’s friends. The motorcycle club was called “The Penetrators”.
– Eva Rodriguez, 1997
All you need to know, and maybe a lot more, about this classic album from 1970, that so many people missed the first time around.
All the facts at: http://sugarman.org/coldfact.html
Almost all South Africans know the album with the black cover, we didn’t even know about the white cover version until about 1997!
A South African journalist embarks on a mystical journey to uncover the truth about music’s best-kept secret.
« Sugar Baz », newly released by French electro producer Yul with Baz, a young Ukulele-playing singer, is a modern and sensuous cover version of the classic Sugar Man, Sixto Rodriguez’s jewel rediscovered less than a decade ago. Single released July 17th 2020 on Résiste records.
Thank you for your music. 50 years later a new generation of musicians is still influenced by your beautiful songwriting and is rediscovering your songs, that fit perfectly in the crazy world we live in. No matter what happened in the past – your music is immortal.
World in Union (2020 Tribute) by PJ Powers and the Tygerberg Children’s Choir (TCC) is a tribute to all Covid-19 essential workers and public efforts made in fighting the corona virus pandemic. This new version of the song was filmed and recorded by the artists in isolation during the country’s lockdown, and released on Africa Day 25 May 2020.
According to PJ Powers the song choice was perfect for the cause as World in Union is a song that expresses so many things that we as humans need. “ When I did it in ‘95 for the Rugby World Cup it became a song of triumph and victory for South Africa, of unity and strength. This time around I approached the vocal with a sense of healing and hope in my mind, and without changing a lyric I feel that is what we have captured in this version.”
PJ and the TCC were originally scheduled perform at the 2020 Suidooster Festival in Cape Town during May. The project is a proud initiative by the Suidooster Festival in association with CTMA, Die Burger and other festival partners. Keep an eye on our social media platforms for new scheduled festival dates for 2020.
Featuring Robin Auld, Steve Walsh, Simon Orange, Tonia Möller, Schalk Joubert, Willem Möller, Kevin Gibson, Mauritz Lotz & Nico Mac
“Lockdown Blues” is a blues song created and performed by the Bottom Barrel Blues Band – a collaboration of prominent South African contemporary musicians. It was recorded individually by the artists in isolation during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
True to the nature of the blues, “Lockdown Blues” is an uplifting, bitter-sweet tune depicting the challenges of life under lockdown regulations. It is produced by the Cape Town Music Academy (CTMA), a Cape Town based not for profit company, creating opportunities for local contemporary musicians.
During the Covid-19 pandemic many musicians have experienced a harsh decline or complete halt in income due to lockdown regulations and the ban on public gatherings. But despite these challenges, musicians will always express themselves, practice their craft and collaborate.
We therefore urge you to please support your local musicians by continuing to buy their albums, follow their online and streaming initiatives or by making a financial donation.
For more info on how you can donate to contemporary musicians in South Africa, please contact the Cape Town Music Academy at email@example.com.
“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” ― Billy Joel
Music by Robin Auld
Lyrics by Nico Mac/Robin Auld/Simon Orange
Video created & edited by Schalk Joubert
Arranged, Mixed & Mastered by Robin Auld
Executive Producer – The Cape Town Music Academy
Robin Auld – Vocals, Guitar & Harmonica
Simon Orange – Vocals & Keyboards
Steve Walsh – Vocals
Tonia Möller – Vocals
Kevin Gibson – Drums
Schalk Joubert – Bass
Willem Möller – Guitar
Mauritz Lotz – Guitar
Our thanks to Lee Shaw in London who alerted us to this rare cover of ‘Sugar Man’ by Ronnie Jones, off his 1975 4-track 7” single, which was (apparently) only released in Brazil.