Monday, March 23, 2009

L. Ron Hubbard- SPACE JAZZ (1982)

Now we’re getting down to brass fucking tacks, Proganauts. The Curator has had the pleasure divine of listening to many, many bad records since the start of this project (State-sanctioned Soviet-era Prog from Romania, Estonia and Tadjikistan, a variety of Yes-offshoots and imitators, Canadian Cock-Prog and the horrors of Jethro Tull and the assorted “I Am Merlin” Hobbit-Prog and Dungeons & Douche-bags symphonic drek) but rarely have I found something so perfectly awful and without redeeming value that I would bestow on it the ultimate compliment/curse: L. Ron Hubbard’s Space Jazz is so laughably awful and mind-blowingly inane that it is truly Hubbardian. A tautology, a redundancy, a question-begging ontological muddle; be forewarned, reader, when you enter into the realm of the Hubbardian, an Event-Horizon of taste has been breached and in this cold hell of artless kitsch shall you suffer the very greatest excess of Pure Fucking Bad that has ever been allowed to foul our Big Blue Marble.

Congrats, Elron – you cleared your body thetans and died with enough Bennies in your system to overdose a fat John Travolta, but what I will now forever remember you for is Space Jazz – the worst fucking album in recorded music history.

I don’t know about you, but when I’ve shopped around for the proper cult to join, I ask the tough, pertinent questions that any seeker/supplicant needs to have answered: One: How long before I get to have multiple teenage sex partners and, Two: Precisely how fucking crazy is the guy who started this banana stand?

The first is usually answered in such a way that it is clear that I still have not found the cult just for me. The second is best answerable from outside sources; if you’ve ever met an actual starry-gazed Scientologist, you realize they are something of a cross between the house Negro from Mandingo and the chair of the People’s Birthday Celebration committee for the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il. Scienos worship Elron like an Emo girl fouls her panties for Thom Yorke; they scrape and genuflect for His Grand Exalted Xenuness like a humbled gimp before a particularly militant and rotund Mistress; and they moon, coo and awe before his artistic accomplishments like a Sarah Palin supporter at an exhibit of lynching photographs. Moribund, anaesthetized and gray-matter scrubbed until their eyes shine gossamer to betray the vapidity that lies beneath, the Scieno has the independence of a tapeworm and the initiative of an opium-eating coolie. Not surprisingly, the kind of music that Elron came up with to appeal to these folks lacks a certain “something” in appeal, that thing being a mad scramble for prominence between taste, talent, competence and joy as to which element Space Jazz most conspicuously lacks.

What a fucking incredible album this is! First off, the grandiosity of the claims for Elron’s music sets him up for a catastrophic come-down. Edgar Winter claims Hubbard’s theories on “counter-rhythm” were ahead of everybody but Paul Simon – and we all know what an ass-shaking OG nigga of pure funk Paul Simon was! – and poor Chick Corea (who I really like) claims the “revolutionary” toy synthesizer Hubbard “invented” has “completely revolutionized electronic music”. Well, folks, Space Jazz ain’t exactly Trans Europe Express, but in its own vile, superfluous and uniquely degrading way, it carves out a corner of the corpse of Prog so swiftly killed off by the excesses of ELP and Yes. In that carcass, wallowing like a tick by the purulent and reeking dead anus of Prog, resides the alterna-masterwork that is Space Jazz. Ecce Homo; people of Jerusalem, here is your king, scourged, whipped, whimpering and not long for this world – a failure. L. Ron Hubbard by his singular lack of talent has made an album for the ages; it is inconceivable that even if one hundred monkeys were placed at one hundred Moogs for one million years, any of the faeces-flinging anthropoids could conjure musical excrement to even approximate the drug-addled Sci-Fi bowel movement that is Space Jazz.

Conceived as a soundtrack for a book (“First of its kind!” raves the typically overheated Scientology press release), Space Jazz is music “inspired” by Hubbard’s own monumental disaster of a novel Battlefield Earth – later, of course, turned into one of the worst movies ever made by big fat John Travolta, who apparently has more than a little Barbarino in him after all. The book – one-thousand pages of padding, irrelevancy, Dickensian-levels of scenery description and overall Cambodian-holocaust excesses of horribleness – is touted by the “Church” as “the largest work in Sci-Fi history”. Mistaking quantity for quality is nothing new, as anyone who has ever smoked crack or read Norman Mailer can tell you; but this particular excess is galling in a spectacular way, as neither crack nor Mailer is responsible for a record album quite like Space Jazz.

The album begins with a “salute” to the “Golden Age of Sci-Fi”, and features (no joke) stirring lyrics such as “It’s Buck Rogers! Buck Rogers! Buck Rogers! Yaaaaaa-yyyy!” Pointless drivel like this continues for a few minutes until we get into the meat of the story; the invasion and destruction of Earth (in nine minutes!) by the mega-evil Psychlos, characters so one-dimensional and dubious that their marching theme here on Space Jazz consists of them saying “Psychlo, Psychlo, Psychlo – Kill, Kill, Kill!” over and over and over again. Subtle shading of character was never one of Elron’s strong suits; his villains are to cruelty what the Village People were to gay: Out, proud, annoying and ridiculous. And Space Jazz is Hubbard’s Can’t Stop the Music, girls.

It gets even worse when we meet the main characters; first, there is Terl, whose song is perhaps the highlight of the entire album. Like the Imperial Death March if written by Rick Wakeman after a traumatic brain injury, this utter silliness tells the story of the chief of security for the evil Psychlos, Terl, who apparently minced his way down to Earth to the accompaniment of an old Simon game set up to play bad lounge jazz and emit the occasional sound sample of a woman screaming in terror. There are some awesomely repulsive lyrics for this one, too, consisting of Terl speaking about “man things” and his “woman friend”. Then he laughs in a very evil way, and we secretly wonder if this isn’t some kind of elaborate put on; that the whole goddamn Scientology cosmology/con is just one big misanthropic uber-joke by a master craftsman whose total, unconscionable hatred for humanity could only find vent through the founding of a UFO-cult and the writing of – easily – the worst Sci-Fi ever to be perpetrated by a man not named Shatner.

I could go on, but I’d rather do something else – end now and plead with you to immediately put your life on hold, click on the link above and download the entire album, and prepare for what might be the most wonderfully destructive experience of your life. Because, Proganaut, let’s be clear on something: times are tough and you may be poor, unemployed, unable to get laid, wearing dirty underwear, living on Ramen noodles and water, stealing extra butter pats from the condiment bins at McDonalds, hell I don’t care how fucking low you think you’ve gone. You listen to me now and you listen to me good – your life now has a reference point for absolute bottom, because even if you’re a child-fucking smack-addict coprophage who secretly keeps a necklace made of human ears, even if you’re the kind of person Charles Bukowski would look askance at, even if you’re secretly harboring dreams of Joe the Plumber running for president in 2012 – hell, even if you’re all of these things, you are NOT a Scientologist and you did NOT write Battlefield Earth or this incredibly amateuristic, banal, childish, stupid, and positively fan-fucking-tasticly awful and ridiculous soundtrack – again, the worst album in recorded history, the essence of all the failure that was Hubbard, the apex of his total lack of talent and taste – BEHOLD! – I give you...Space Jazz.

Ha cha cha!!!! - TR


  1. Why you did not go on ?

    This is probably the best written review ever of an album, its concept and the people behind it.

    More ! more ! more !

  2. Cuenta- admit it, you're really my mom.

    Thanks man- I stopped a few weeks ago because I thought nobody was listening. I gather that I was wrong. Cheers, - TR

  3. NO! FILE NOT FOUND! What a cocktease.

  4. Good Review, polished, or should I say burnished? Seriously though was a fun read.

    Stanley Clarke? Chick Corea?

  5. I also just wanted to give my appreciation for this masterful piece of writing, which nails this album :)
    Link has gone from here but album is still here :

  6. Agree with Simon, you're write-up really makes up for listening to this shitty piece of music - respect!