Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation

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Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation
Studio album by Jack Kerouac
Released January 1960 (1960-01)
Recorded 1959 (1959)
Genre Spoken word
Length 41:32
Label Verve
Producer Bill Randle
Jack Kerouac chronology
Blues and Haikus
(1959)
Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation
(1960)
The Jack Kerouac Collection
(1990)

Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation is the third and final spoken word album by the American novelist and poet Jack Kerouac, released in January 1960 on Verve Records. The album was recorded during 1959, prior to the publication of Kerouac's sixth novel, Doctor Sax.

Composition[edit]

Jack Kerouac had released Poetry for the Beat Generation and Blues and Haikus (1959) following the publication of The Dharma Bums. Both albums featured jazz-based acommpaniment, however, for Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation, Kerouac had decided to record the album solely in spoken word.[1] Despite the musical acommpaniment, biographer Gerald Nicosia stated that "the musicality of Kerouac's art is best exemplified by the Readings album."[2]

Several readings on the album are from several of Kerouac's written works. The opening track, "San Francisco Scene (The Beat Generation)," is read from extracts of Desolation Angels. Extracts from the eponymous novel The Subterraneans and poetry collection San Francisco Blues are also featured. "Visions of Neal" features extracts from the original drafts of Kerouac's most notable novel On the Road.

Packaging[edit]

The front cover of the album features a picture of Kerouac tuning a radio, taken by photographer and musician John Cohen and other photography by Robert Frank is featured elsewhere on the album's artwork. Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation also included liner notes written by Jack Kerouac's close friend and fellow Beat writer Allen Ginsberg. Later CD pressings of the album reproduced Ginsberg's liner notes on fifteen illustrated postcards, addressed to Kerouac.

Release[edit]

Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation was released in January 1960 on Verve Records on LP. In June 1990, Rhino Entertainment reissued the album on CD as part of the box set The Jack Kerouac Collection, also featuring Poetry for the Beat Generation, Blues and Haikus and The Last Word. The CD reissue included a bonus track, "Is There a Beat Generation?", a live lecture by Kerouac to students of Hunter College in Manhattan, New York on November 6, 1958.[3] A remastered CD version was issued on October 28, 1997 on Verve Records.

Upon its release, the album received minimal critical reception. Allmusic reviewer Bruce Eder has since called Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation "a solo performance that transcends poetry and music" and added "it's literally spoken jazz [...] Kerouac's most musical performance [...] using his voice and language the way a saxophonist might improvise on a particular melodic line or riff. He's spellbinding throughout, intense, focused, and even subtly changing voices with the work itself."[3] Eder awarded the album a full five-star rating. The album was later nominated for the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Recording Package.[4]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Jack Kerouac

No. Title Length
1. "San Francisco Scene (The Beat Generation)"   3:09
2. "San Francisco Blues (Fragments)"
I. "San Francisco"
II. "Street Scene"
III. "Money Honey"
IV. "Westinghouse Elevators"
V. "Old Age"
VI. "Praised Be Man"
VII. "The Sad Turtle"  
3:02
3. "Lucien Midnight: The Sounds of the Universe in My Window"
I. "Excerpt 1"
II. "Excerpt 2"  
4:22
4. "History of Bop"   10:53
5. "The Subterraneans"   3:07
6. "Visions of Neal: Neal and the Three Stooges"
I. "Part 1"
II. "Part 2"  
16:59
Total length:
41:32
1990 CD reissue[3] bonus track
No. Title Length
7. "Is There a Beat Generation?"   12:34
Total length:
54:06

Personnel[edit]

All personnel credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[5]

Notes[edit]

  • A ^ Denotes personnel on the 1990 CD reissue.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Kerouac as a Musician". The Jack Kerouac Collection (CD booklet). Jack Kerouac. PolyGram. 1990. LC 00268. 
  2. ^ Nicosia, Gerald (1994). Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0520085695. 
  3. ^ a b c Eder, Bruce. Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation – Jack Kerouac : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards at AllMusic. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  4. ^ "L.A. Life – 1999 Grammy Nominations". Los Angeles Daily News (TheFreeLibrary.com) (January 6, 1999). 1999. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  5. ^ Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation (CD). Jack Kerouac. Verve Records. 1997. LC 0383.