Perhaps not as lost as some of the classics we feature, but still not of the enormity that warrants a vinyl reissue (come on music labels, it’s the only physical format with rising sales these days!), Jobriath’s self titled debut album from 1973 is steadily being unearthed from under the mound of hype that buried it decades earlier.
Here’s the oft repeated facts of Jobriath (Bruce Wayne Campbell). First openly gay popstar. Signs to Elektra for what is a ridiculous amount of money, super glam rock and very talented, he’s hyped by the industry machine to the point of overload. Debut album fails to sell well, and after another failed album is dumped by Elektra. Various contractual obligations that scupper any hope of a further career elsewhere, lives for the rest of his life atop the famous Chelsea Hotel in New York city (in the pyramid, no less), working as a singer in clubs until his death from AIDS complications in 1983. A life of high visibility and then crushing anonymity, hardly seems fair, does it?
Anyway, the album itself is big, with Jobriath’s theatrical voice soaring, screaming, trilling and doing all sorts of beautiful things over a slightly scattered glam rock style- sometimes funky (Earthling or the more operatic I’maman), other times just balls out rock and roll (Rock Of Ages), but never settling for anything- I got the impression that Jobriath played it as big as he thought he deserved to be, music industry be damned. It works, you can hear his passion and energy- part of what drew me to this album. Initially I wrote Jobriath off as a Bowie type pop star, but after closer listens he grew on me and what came through was the more risky and experimental nature of Jobriath’s songs. Where some one like Bowie might exercise restraint, Jobriath just keeps going, bigger, better, closer to the stars, up the with the UFOs, orbiting in a sphere that we can’t ever quite touch.
I urge you to beam yourself up with these glammest of glam tunes, space cadets.
Rock Of Ages
Morning Star Ship