Saturday, October 3, 2020

Jobriath "As the River Flows"


(Eschatone, 2014) This is an inspiring, incredible record. In the early 70s Jobriath was built up to the stratosphere by management and presented as the glamster who could out-Bowie Bowie, because he was legitimately all out gay, not a gay-ish poseur. Surprisingly, the giant butt-centric billboards were not what the 70s were looking for, and as Roctober readers have read in excruciating detail, the artist formally known as Bruce Wayne Campbell (and eventually known as cabaret crooner Cole Berlin), lived a poetically tragic life, leading too a sadly predicable AIDS-related exit. But what his two albums did not make perfectly clear, because the grand production shaded his contributions, was that not only was he really queer (and really handsome and really bold and really game for anything) but he was really talented. This album collects two spare studio sessions with Jo at the piano cutting his compositions live, and because the polish is not there I have read (rave) write ups of this album saying that it proves that his talents were outside of the glam-osphere. I cannot agree less. The kind of Broadway rock (at which  Meatloaf was most successful, but so many others practiced) feels so big and flashy and majestic that it projects glitter and lights and sparkly an spacesuits even in its sparest moments. And the delightful/dire debauchery of these songs of drugs and freaks and rockers is the stuff glammy space trash mountains are built upon. And Elton just dressed like a glittering Donald Duck -- Jobriath actuaslly sings a verse in Donald's ducky voice! Most notably, the spare but soaring piano prototype of Jobriath's best known (and all out best) major label track, "I'maman" is richer than King Midas. And just a shiny.

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