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Release Info: Steven Grossman - Caravan Tonight (Mercury, SRM-1-702), 1974
There's a long-running debate about the identity of the first (openly) gay man signed to a major record label. Was it Jobriath, whose first album appeared on Elektra in 1973, or Steven Grossman who was signed (to Mercury) possibly at an earlier date, but whose album didn't come out until 1974? And were Elektra and Mercury major record labels in the modern sense (ie huge, merged monsters like Sony/BMG with 1001 imprints and sub-labels)?
Steven certainly got less attention than Jobriath, and that remains the case today. He wasn't particularly theatrical, he wasn't promoted as a kind of alien outrage, and his songwriting was gentle, acoustic singer/songwriter. As a musician and composer, he didn't have Jobriath's vast classical education or flair. He did, however, create a very frank musical document about his life, his relationships, his empty encounters, family struggles and self-acceptance. What's more, Twiggy of all people decided to cover one of his songs (the title track of this album) during her brief spell as a recording artist.
Steven clearly had talent sufficient to create many more albums, and I have no idea whether he walked away from Mercury or whether they dispensed with him.
Not long before his death in 1991, he did record more songs, but very little is available. In fact, you can get about one song on a 'Various Artists' CD. Over the years, I've heard mutterings about "Caravan Tonight" being reissued, but they never amount to anything. . To find out much more about Steven (including lyrics, better scans of the gatefold, and reviews), go here.
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