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Monday, 12 November 2012

Record Review - Jack Kerouac

Poetry For The Beat Generation
Blues And Haikus

The two albums of (mostly) spoken word recordings that Kerouac made in 1959, when his literary star was soaring. On Poetry For The Beat Generation, a Benzedrine-fueled Kerouac recites his edgy odes to the beauty to be found in urban observations, while sympathetic straight man Steve Allen tickles the ivories. ‘October In The Railroad Earth’, the opening piece, is a staggeringly moving oral performance of one of Kerouac’s most effective passages of writing. 

Throughout this set, Kerouac is amped-up exuberant yet seemingly on the brink of despair, both the ultimate knowing street denizen and a self-conscious nerd who’s in over his head. On the follow-up, Blues And Haikus, a more assured JK reads (and sometimes sings) his pieces while hepcats Zoot Sims and Al Cohn blow in the background. But while the writer sounds more confident here than on the debut set, his aching vulnerability that’s in evidence on the earlier material is sorely missed.

Brian Greene 

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