Friday, June 3, 2011
Readings by Jack Kerouac on The Beat Generation - Jack Kerouac
Rhino RI 70939-C
This is the third album in the "Jack Kerouac Collection" box set. It was originally released on Verve and was Kerouac's final record. Unlike the other two albums Kerouac recorded, there is no musical accompaniment for his readings. It is just his voice and the occasional rustle of pages, which is kind of ironic since this is his most musical set of texts. Jazz figures prominently in the excerpts from "The Subterraneans" and "Desolation Angels" and it is the subject of "The Beginnings of Bop." I really miss the music even though I had problems with it on the other albums. It is a bit like watching a silent movie without music, it feels incomplete. Although somewhat clumsy, Kerouac is a fairly melodic reader, he even semi-sings in places and his voice is stimulating and engaging, but I still think a little music to fill the spaces and give some momentum to the reading would be a nice addition. I'm not sure why they eschewed music on this album, but I must admit there is some appeal in listening to these unadorned readings. It is a more intimate experience and it is easier to concentrate on the words. The texts themselves are the best of the three records, full of dazzling word play that invites some of Kerouac's most inspired readings, particularly on "Visions of Neal: Neal and the Three Stooges." His enthusiasm and passion is very captivating. This is arguably the most faithful translation of Kerouac's style into sound. Recommended for tone-deaf hipsters.