"The Beat Generation"
Various Artists, 1992
Records have a great track record when it comes to finding lost audio treasures.
Their box sets are the best around, and the main source to go to for forgotten
parts of popular culture. In the early 90's, there was a Beat Generation
revival among Generation X'ers. Rhino tapped into this current and put
out one amazing three-CD set which includes a thoughtful and well researched
set booklet. There were many elements to Beat culture, and this set touches
on them all. On the music side, there are classic bop and post-bop tunes
from Dizz, Bird, and Mingus. There are comedy and Beat culture-via-the-mainstream
bits that, although humorous, show what happens when corporate America
gets hold of a marketing tool. There is the inclusion of neo-Beat singer
Tom Waits, beyond-Beat word jazz man Ken Nordine, and a stunning report
on the Greenwich Village scene by none other than Charles Kuralt. The best
parts of the set, by far, are the spoken word cuts from the key figures
of the Beat movement: Kerouac, Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Lenny
Bruce, all in their own voices. The Beats were more than coffee housers
who snapped their fingers to bad poetry. This was an inclusive cultural
movement that help change the direction of music, the perception of literature,
and created the philosophy of cool that served Americans through the neurotic
atomic age and beyond.
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