In 1957, Jack Kerouac was on top of the world as his thinly-veiled autobiographical novel ‘On The Road’ had finally found a publisher after six years of trying. Chronicling the adventures of Sal Paradise and his sidekick Dean Moriarty as they travelled across America, the book was generously lauded, and together with a fair few hostile reviews due to its highly controversial nature, all helped to accelerate the book’s notoriety.
Kerouac’s newfound celebrity resulted in him being invited to make a record for a label called Dot. It’s probably true to say that if he hadn’t achieved such success by that point in his career, the opportunity wouldn’t have presented itself. But as it was, the notoriety he had received following the publication of ‘On The Road’ gave him a chance to do something different and this compilation brings together three collectable and long out-of-print spoken word albums that Kerouac recorded in 1959: namely ‘Poetry For The Beat Generation,’ ‘Blues & Haikus,’ and ‘Readings By Jack Kerouac On The Beat Generation.’ In addition to these, the anthology contains a live performance of Kerouac performing (on US TV in 1959 for ‘The Steve Allen Plymouth Show’) as well as three interviews, which have been included to provide a fuller audio portrait of the man born Jean-Louis Debris de Kerouac.
While his many novels and other written works preserve the uniqueness of his aesthetic vision and continue to confirm his status as one of the twentieth century’s most original and influential writers, the three albums and interviews that comprise this collection add another, incredibly valuable, dimension to our perception of the man – in hearing Kerouac’s voice speaking in mellifluous cadences and breathing life into his written words, we are able to get a rare and insightful glimpse of the actual man himself and feel the depth of his passion as well as experience the visionary power of his extraordinary genius.