It's difficult to figure out Wounded Bird's scheme for its ambitious Kris Kristofferson
reissue program. The four volumes in the series contain eight albums. Only half of them are issued in chronological order. Why they chose to skip around and not simply release these two-fers in historical release sequence is a mystery; it would have made it a lot
easier for the listener.
This two-fer is a case in point. For starters, we get 1974's stellar, if truly misunderstood Spooky Lady's Sideshow
paired with the utterly forgettable Shake Hands with the Devil
. The former title is a kind of concept album. It reflects on the state of the songwriter's life journey to that point, from the hard road of slogging through bars and Nashville offices to the rough life lived in the process to the price of stardom and the dark side of fame. It also reflects on the lives and tragedies of people he'd met along the way. One need not go any further than "Same Old Song," the album's opening track, to get a snapshot of the entire album thematically. There are some real Kristofferson
classics to be found here, including "Broken Freedom Song" and "The Lights of Magdala," just to name two. The musicians who guest here include Leland Sklar
, Bobby Neuwirth
, Stephen Bruton
, Delbert McClinton
, a horn section that includes saxophonist Jim Horn
, guitarist Jerry McGee
, and drummer Sammy Creason
. This is worth the price of the package alone. It's all killer, no filler from start to finish.
To be honest, after track 12, you can pop the CD out of the deck. Shake Hands with the Devil
, his ninth album for Monument, was released in the aftermath of Kristofferson
's starring appearance with Barbra Streisand
in the film A Star Is Born (the cover shot is a still from the film). It is a hastily recorded and assembled affair, at best. It consists mainly of old material, a sad mish-mash of mostly second-rate Kris
. The title track, "Once More with Feeling," and "Come Sundown," were of 1970 vintage -- the latter two were hits for Bobby Bare
and Jerry Lee Lewis
, respectively. "Seadream" was written for the 1976 film The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, which he starred in with British actress Sarah Miles. There's a terrific band, but the material is such a hodge-podge it's tough to get a hold on the album, and one track seemingly bleeds into the next. Punters should pick this one up for Spooky Lady's Sideshow
. They'll rediscover a classic in the process and be rewarded with a particular brand of American song-poetry that we haven't seen from anyone except Bob Dylan
in the 21st century.