What would you do if you wrote -- pound for pound -- the worst book of all time? Kill yourself? Go back in time and kill your father while he was still a child so you might never soil the earth with your existence? Well, if you were L. Ron Hubbard and you just finished Battlefield Earth and you couldn't yet get John Travolta to make a movie version, well, all that was left to you was to write a soundtrack for your book. Yeah. So, behold pitiful deluded fans of Mozart! L. Ron trumped all your aural art forms with the ultimate evolution of music: Space Jazz.
Say it, brothers and sisters. S p a c e J a z z. Yeah!
Space Jazz was a 13 song double LP Hubbard ostensibly composed for the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument (also known as the CMI). He enlisted the help of musicians within the Scientology fold including Chick Corea.
Lennon's Double Fantasy it was not.
Hubbard boasted his revolutionary Space Jazz genre "antiquates past music like the cathedral organ wiped away blowing on a blade of grass." That's what it says on the liner notes anyway. The liner notes also feature a picture of L. Ron with his signature Very Yellow hair and double beer belly ogling a Fairlight deck. There's also a picture of a burning city.
What does Space Jazz sound like? Well, it sounds a lot like Star Trek incidental music if you strip out all the lush chords and play it on a $19 monophonic toy keyboard, or maybe your touchtone keypad. It's bad. Real Bad. The Real Bad only pompous jerks with too much money and delusions of godhood can ever hope to attain. I mean even William Shatner could dis this album and no one would caution him to temper his words in light of his recording of "Mr. Tambourine Man". You da man, Bill. You da man!
L. Ron was possibly influenced by Shatner's work, because many of the songs had spoken-word lyrics delivered in Shatner's stone-cold signature style. For example, in the song "Funeral For a Planet", one hears spoken lyrics that go like:
VOICE 1: What planet is that?
VOICE 2: I don't know, God.
VOICE 1: Why, it's dead!
VOICE 2: I hear a woman weeping.
VOICE 1: Let's get closer.
CHORUS:: The Dead were not mourned... nobody cried...only trees wept. Poor earth...
The original Space Jazz album was released in 1982 under the entirely unknown and forgotten Applause 9000 label. Its cover art was blue with a swirling galaxy. On top of the swirling galaxy was a picture of the book Battlefield Earth.
Its first and possibly last live performance was at The Woz's 1982 Us Festival. At a booth to promote Hubbard's Battlefield Earth, Chick Corea, who should know better, gave passing concert goers a sampling. Those who stopped to ask what the fuck an otherwise respectable jazz man like Corea was doing shilling for a bad Sci Fi author, plinking out loud, raspy monophonic computer tones while standing in front of a very tasteful ten-foot-tall replica of a Psychlo chained between two walls, well, those people were blocked by... errr… greeted by booth attendees dressed up like kilted Scotsmen with rayguns stuck in their immodestly large sporrans.
After a couple years of languishing on the charts, Scientology woke up to the fact "space jazz" was just plain gay sounding. BPI Records released Space Jazz under the much, much better name Battlefield Earth -- better because at least consumers knew what they were buying.
Curiously enough, although Hubbard pronounced Space Jazz as the music of the future, it came no where close to ever being used as the soundtrack for the Travolta movie adaptation. They got some other asshole to do that.
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Copyright 2003 Karl Mamer
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