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Wednesday, November 4, 1998

Rock 'N' Roll: Dead & Killing

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 1998 at 12:00 AM

In the name of reviving a national interest in poetry, Mouth Almighty head Bob Holman made his own pop poetry album. In With The Out Crowd is a regular rock circus that even pits Jesus Christ against Elvis in a wrestling match. The Rocky Horror-ish humor and commercial break theatrics strive to offer something between comic relief and piercing critical insights about '60s American culture. Sound bites of Richard Nixon and B-movies decorate the borders. There are cowboy swaggers, a commentary on Hiroshima, and urban mic-macking rap fragments that leave the listener spinning. Poetry wrapped up in a rock package?

This isn't the first time we've heard this kind of post-beat pastiche. But a Lollapalooza version of the poetry slam is harder to take now that we're all standing around rock 'n' roll's burial site just waiting for somebody to give the okay and lower its corpse into a boxed-set grave. That's not to say that there isn't worthwhile music being made. There is plenty; but most of it comes out of figuring out what's next instead of harping on how we got here. And, for all his good intentions, Holman is guilty of looking back, for trying to drag all these antiquated ideas into a "hit" format that sounds as uninformed about "what the kids want" as it does awkward. And poetry doesn't need a bohemian Wolfman Jack to deejay it's coming out party. People (even the kids) will find it on their own. That's where stuff such as The Best of William S. Burroughs set (released this year on Mouth Almighty) works just fine, at least until something new comes along that measures up.

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