P22 / Stanyan Records
By: Kerry M.
Ok, so Rod Mckuen is someone you probably don’t want to admit to having ever listened to. But, the novelty of this re-release almost makes it worth enduring the schlock that pours from his famous and infamous mouth. Apparently this album “Beatsville” was a real hit with the Beatnik wannabe’s of the day. Sanitized for suburbia, Mckuen’s parody of the “beat” scene offered an oustider’s inside glimpse into the late 50’s of San Francisco’s North Beach Beat scene.
Listening to Rod’s sardonic chronicle of life at that time, I can’t help but laugh. Rod reminds me of a Mr. Rogers version of Jack Kerouac or maybe even that happy cloud painting Bob Ross. If you can get over the sarcasm, and the schlock, Beatsville provides an insightful and honest look into this subculture phenomenon. While the media has had a tendency to glamorize the Beat Scene and it’s poster boys Burroughs, Kerouac, and Ginsberg, Beatsville reveals a scene full of posers and wannabes looking for the next hip thing while sipping coffee and writing haikus on napkins, dressed in black and smelling of reefer.
In any case, the real novelty of this album lies in the fact that the font foundry “P22” and the record label Stanyan have re-released this “classic” and packaged it with a set of Fonts and Illustrations inspired by the album and the scene. Apparently, this is something that P22 does often and I must admit it is an interesting concept.