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Album Review

Jobriath: A Review of the Best Album You’ve Never Heard of

October 6, 2020

by Lela Miller, DJ

If you clicked on this article with no idea who Jobriath is or why his 1973 debut album, Jobriath, is so important, you’re unfortunately not alone. For someone who was exteremly talented and revolutionary in his music, there are few who know of him or have listened to his songs - even less who know his impact on music (gay music in particular). 

Born in 1946, Bruce Wayne Campbell renamed himself as Jobriath Salisbury sometime in the mid-60s after he dropped out of college and was drafted. Moving from his hometown in Pennsylvania to LA, at some point Jobriath recorded a demo and, in 1972, Jerry Brandt signed the now Jobriath Boone to Elektra Records for a $500,000 two-record deal. Brandt proceeded to hype Jobriath to incredibly unreasonable levels - placing him in the same category as Elvis and the Beatles. 

When Jobriath released his self-titled album, Jobriath, it was very apparent that he is not the new Beatles or Elvis. While it received generally favorable reviews, no one can say that it transcended its genre and transformed glam rock forever. 

Nevertheless, Jobriath is a simply gorgeous creation. From the start with its bombastic, saucy track entitled “Take Me I’m Yours” to its soulful final of “Blow Away,” the album is a consistently delightful experience. Its mixing of cabaret/broadway styles with rock establishes a “glam rock” sound that is entirely unique - mainly due to Jobriath’s voice. While he wasn’t the Beatles or Elvis, his ability to balance deeply contrasting musical elements makes his incredible talent obvious.

"He projects a gentleness that is not lost even when his voice swells and boldens along with the music."

This talent is perhaps best seen in Jobriath’s seventh track, “I’maman.” Its lyrics are authentic to a haunting degree and create a clash with its glam rock stylizing - a clash only resolved through Jobriath’s voice. When making the proclamations that he is “fragile” and “elegant,” he projects a gentleness that is not lost even when his voice swells and boldens along with the music. His skill of melding contrasting emotions is apparent in other tracks as well; as best described by Marc Almond, singer of Soft Cell, in a Guardian article he wrote on Jobriath, “His voice had a touch of Mick Jagger at his most sluttish...He was a mix of wide-eyed innocent and world-weary punk.” 

Listening to Jobriath in its entirety, you can’t help but fall in love with Jobriath and his talent. I certainly did. It makes the conclusion to his story all the more heartbreaking. 

Despite Jobriath’s talent and mostly favorable reviews for his first album, he was not liked. In Britain, he was seen as an American trying (and failing) to copy Bowie, and his music was simply more “musical” than people wanted at the time. Opinions were certainly not improved when he came out as gay in a deeply homophobic time by proclaiming himself “the true fairy of rock.” The negative reviews received by his second album, Creatures of the Street (1974), sealed his fate. He performed his final show at the University of Alabama, retired from the music industry in 1975, and moved into the pyramid on top of the Chelsea Hotel in downtown Manhattan. He changed his name to Cole Berlin and performed as a cabaret singer until he died of AIDS on August 3, 1983; he was 36 years old. 

For someone who was hardly a successful figure in the music industry for the roughly three years they were in it, Jobriath’s legacy is impressive. He was the first gay pop star and he faced a lot of bigotry and homophobia for it, but he still paved the same road later used by gay groups in the 80s, such as Soft Cell and Bronski Beat. In recent years, he has started to grow in popularity, thanks to covers by various artists, streaming services hosting his music (before, records of his albums were near impossible to find), and a compilation album called Lonely Planet Boy (2004) put together by Morrissey, of the Smiths and extremely far-right For Britain Party fame. 

In closing, I urge everyone to listen to Jobriath and his music. Jobriath is one of my favorite albums, and I fully intend to feature it heavily on my show, Monster of the Week. Jobriath was an amazing, talented artist that deserves every ounce of recognition and praise he receives. In time, I can only hope more people realize this too. 

Lela Miller is the host of "Monster of the Week". You can listen to Lela talk about Jobriath, as well as other glam rock tunes every Monday at 8am on

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