The grandiose rock opera California '99 imagines a dystopian future in which the U.S. declares bankruptcy, voiding all laws and forcing its citizens to survive on a steady diet of cannabis-addicted insects. No, really. Based on a story by Tom Gamache and conceived for vinyl by veteran composer/arranger Jimmie Haskell, the project is even more absurd than it seems on paper, which is its blessing and its curse. For all its ridiculously grave prophecies, there's no denying that California '99 inspires some great performances from participants like blues great Jimmy Witherspoon, who delivers an impassioned reading of the Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." And damned if the whole thing doesn't earn very high marks on the unintentional comedy scale. There's no denying its entertainment value, even if it's not quite what its creators intended.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny