Allen Ginsberg

Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Poems & Songs

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Holy Soul Jelly Roll: Songs & Poems (1994) is an ambitious collection from the now-defunct WordBeat division of Rhino Records. This astounding aural compendium features the collected recordings of beat poet/writer/activist Allen Ginsberg. Accompanying the discs is a 64-page text replete with not only Ginsberg's own recollections and track-by-track analysis, but also contributions from a who's who of hip, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Bob Dorough, and Bob Dylan. Ginsberg's contribution to post-World War II literature and culture is incalculable. Among his earliest influences were the talkin' blues of Ma Rainey, Leadbelly, and Bessie Smith. In part, Ginsberg's genius lies in adapting his fascination with that traditional American lyric form into his often scatological poetry and prose. Each of the four volumes is presented with a rough chronology of materials -- ranging from professional to very private recordings. Among the more interesting are the earliest lot on volume one, "Moloch!" -- a majority of which are derived from homemade tapes -- from sources as disparate as Neal Cassidy or Laurence Lipton's respective dwellings to the Town Hall Theatre in Berkeley, CA. The highlight of the disc, however, is an unexpurgated reading of the epic "Howl," which is presented in its half-hour entirety. Volume two, "Caw Caw," commences with the 63-plus-minute reading of "Kaddish (For Naomi Ginsberg 1894-1956)" from a November 24, 1964, recitation at Brandeis University that was the focus of Allen Ginsberg Reads Kaddish: A 20th Century American Ecstatic Narrative Poem (1966). Also on this second volume are "To Aunt Rose" and "Guru" from the Hal Willner-produced Lions for Real (1989) disc -- plus, a 1965 rarity, "Kral Majales (King of May)," which was included on the Cold Turkey Press/Klacto Present a Cold Turkey Press Special (1972) LP issued only in Holland. Volume three, "Ah," includes several astonishing pieces, commencing with the previously unissued version of "Wales Visitation" -- which is described in the liner notes by Ginsberg as having been conceived during the "sixth or so hour of an acid trip in Wales." The majority of the disc consists of tracks from the Allen Ginsberg/William Blake: Songs of Innocence and Experience (1970) word and musical jazz album. This title features notable contributions from jazz legends Don Cherry (percussion/trumpet) and Bob Dorough (keyboard/harpsichord). There is also a handful of previously unearthed material from Pacific High Studios in San Francisco, documented during the summer of 1971. Pop and rock music fans will perhaps be most drawn to the rarities on volume four, "Ashes & Blues." Here are unreleased collaborations with the Clash ("Capitol Air") and Bob Dylan (" Vomit Express," "Airplane Blues," and "September on Jessore Road").

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 06:49
2 02:06
3 01:34
4 01:26
5 01:14
6 01:08
7 01:26
8 01:41
9 02:11
10 04:47
11 05:03
12 02:19
13 00:46
14 01:14
15 03:52
16 06:17
17 07:22
18 01:16
19 05:27
20 07:43
21 07:19
22 01:38
blue highlight denotes track pick