What Generation needed was a good editor. What's mildly amusing in Babs Gonzales's drug-culture, lingo-laden "Manhattan Fable" makes redundant the later readings of "Rumpelstiltskin" and "Christopher Columbus" that mine similar territories for cheap laughs (i.e., Rump and Chris as beatniks). A long, rambling (mostly pointless) interview with Kerouac by Ben Hecht and long, rambling (but educational) documentaries by veteran newsmen such as Howard K. Smith and Charles Kurault grow tiresome. On the plus side, the jazz tracks are cool in the best sense of the word, and quirky (Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross's "Twisted" is pure nervous paranoia), illustrating the aesthetic of movement and restlessness that the Beats embraced. Although there's plenty to recommend on Generation, it is box sets like this that make "shuffle-play" on the disc player such an attractive option. To paraphrase one of the most Beat characters of all times, Bullwinkle J. Moose: Sometimes a beatnik is just a bum in sunglasses.
-- Bob Weinberg