Total time: 35.43
Released in 1982 by RPM South Africa with catalogue number RPM 1164 (LP) & CCRPM 1164 (Cassette). The track listing was the same as the 1977 Australian LP At His Best, but had a cover similar to Alive.
Re-released by PolyGram South Africa in November 1996 with bonus tracks and catalogue number MMTCD 1987. Replaced by Sugarman: The Best Of Rodriguez in September 2005.
Five tracks have been added, and the order has been re-arranged.
Total time: 54.59
"Can't Get Away", "I'll Slip Away" and "Street Boy" were recorded in 1972 and first released in 1977 on At His Best in Australia.
"I'll Slip Away" was released as a single by Impact Records in August 1967 and credited to Rod Riguez (composed by Sixto D. Rodriguez). Released on The Best Of Impact Records CD (Collectables COL-5883) in November 1997. The version on the "The Best Of Rodriguez" is the 1972 re-recording.
The Best Of Rodriguez
by Kurt Shoemaker, Texas, USA
(written on the 15th September 2001, a few days after the attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on the 11th and during Rodriguez's 2nd South African tour)
How could I have predicted that my enthusiasm for white boy rock from South Africa would lead to the music of an American hispanic gentleman from Detroit, Michigan? Just when one thinks the world can't get any stranger... it does.
The music of Rodriguez has provided a measure of comfort during this past horrifying week. Señor Sixto's music may be of alienation, of what are euphemistically called "alternate lifestyles" these days, and of conflicts in society, but this week, to me, his songs have been about people. People from all walks of life, people like you and like me.
If I were to meet Mr. Rodriguez, I'd say to him, "Hola Señor Rodriguez, gracias para la musica y las memorias!" ("Hello, Mister Rodriguez, thanks for the music and the memories!").
Rodriguez has written many special songs. Here are my reactions to a few on this excellent 'Best of' set.
'I Wonder' -- When dating someone new I used to wonder how many times she might have had sex before. Then I grew past that and just hoped I'd be next. This song is a nice series of observations on people, ones I daresay all of us have made at one time or another.
'Inner City Blues' -- Clever use of an old barn dance and folk festival standard ("Mama don't allow no fiddle playing around here....") by turning it into a modern social-consciousness song ("Papa don't allow no new ideas around here....").
'I'll Slip Away' -- A smoothly lovely song, the lyrics and his voice flow fluidly, effortlessly, together. It's as beautiful here sung by the experienced performer Sixto just as it was beautiful when sung by a younger Rod Riguez on Impact Records (in 1967) before they folded. (Do musicians have to have bad luck when dealing with record companies, is that part of the deal one makes to pursue Mistress Music?)
'Crucify Your Mind' -- Such powerful and intensely well-written lyrics. Though complicated, the words to this song flow as easily as if it was a simple folk song.
'Sugar Man' -- How do I know this is an honest song? I recognize the scenery. I first heard this song as done by Just Jinger on their EP 'Something for Now' (in 1998), and liked it very much. I still rate their version highly, but when I first heard Rodriguez's fully-realized version, I knew right away that it was his song. How do I know it's a great song? I feel it.
Now to the question of why y'all like this guy so much, which I still find amazing, but not surprising. Simply put, he seems to say something y'all want to hear, he defines some of the confusion and disappointments of life -- sort of like folk-blues, it's music about feeling bad that makes the listener feel good. Of course, he says something I want to hear, too.
His songs become friends, his voice is warm and close, but retains some individual distance. Even when singing about themes that should be depressing, his voice draws me in, not as an observer but as one involved.
The fact that SA loves Rodriguez doesn't puzzle me, actually. He's good. So I don't marvel that Rodriguez is so popular in South Africa. He got lucky with y'all, and vice versa. However, I do marvel that he isn't better known here in the States. But then, I can figure out why. He's too real, too honest, too engaging.
This is a strong CD, full of high points. The songs I mentioned above are not nearly the only great songs. Parts of 'Can't Get Away' hit me hard this week: "Born in a troubled city/ In rock 'n' roll USA/ In the shadow of the tallest building... You can't get away from it...." He sings of a diverse society, and this week the civilized world in all its multiplicity has pulled together. And the music of Rodriguez provides some mental comfort, perhaps oddly, perhaps not.
'Cause', 'Establishment Blues', 'Climb Up On My Music', 'To Whom It May Concern', and all the rest, hell, I might as well list all the tracks on this CD. Intelligent, literate, and natural songs. Viva Rodriguez!
For intelligent, contemplative songs of much beauty and of accurate insights to being human, some in the shadows of the dark side and night life of our world, Rodriguez is the man. So, do me a favor and go see this American. Enjoy yourself for me because I might not ever see this American play in America. Strange, huh?