Fourteen of the 25 tracks on this 79½-minute disc are drawn from Jack Kerouac's poetry book Pomes All Sizes; the rest come from his novels (nothing from On the Road, though) and letters, with some unpublished work is also included. The readers range from Kerouac's contemporaries, William Burroughs, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Allen Ginsberg, and literary offspring like Hunter S. Thompson, to such poet-rockers as Jim Carroll and Patti Smith, and a long list of rock stars including Michael Stipe, Steven Tyler, and Eddie Vedder. Kerouac was not a fan of rock music, instead preferring bebop jazz, so the closest tracks to what he himself would have preferred are associate producer and Sonic Youth member Lee Ranaldo's excerpt from a letter to John Clellon Holmes, accompanied by saxophonist Dana Colley, Warren Zevon's "Running Through -- Chinese Poem Song," accompanied by pianist Michael Wolff, and Matt Dillon's "Mexican Loneliness," with a jazzy sax and bongo accompaniment. (Kerouac probably wouldn't think much of the Joe Strummer background music tacked onto his own reading of excerpts from "MacDougal Street Blues.") But the closest to Kerouac's own sense of how his work should be read is comedian/actor Richard Lewis, who recites the previously unpublished "America's New Trinity of Love: Dean, Brando, Presley." The selections present a good sampling of Kerouac's literary concerns, and, whether appropriate or not, the recordings demonstrate his extensive influence.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann