Artist: Kris Kristofferson
Album: The Complete Monument & Columbia Album Collection
Label: Sony Legacy
Release Date: 06/10/2016
“You can look at Nashville pre-Kris and post-Kris, because he changed everything.” – Bob Dylan
Sixteen discs, and all I get to review is a chintzy two disc sampler?! Man, times are getting tough. But since I have most of these (admittedly on vinyl and without a turntable) I’ll have to go on what I recall of the first experience with this undisputed American Master.
Ranging from 1970 -1981, the game changing discs included are Kristofferson (“Help Me Make It Through The Night,” “For The Good Times,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Casey’s Last Ride”) The Silver Tongued Devil and I (“Loving Her Was Easier,” “Jody and the Kid,” the classic title track.) Unbelievably, twenty plus months later, he released Jesus Was A Capricorn (“Nobody Wins” and genre setting duets with wife to be Rita Coolidge “It Sure Was (Love),” and “Help Me.”) 1981’s intensely personal, post divorce To The Bone (“Daddy’s Song,” “The Devil To Pay”) brought him back to the foreground.
The two discs of Extras – collected B-sides, one-offs, duets, and outtakes – have their moments, but for me the real bonus is the bonus live material. Three live discs, two previously unreleased recorded in ’70 and ’72, and the ’72 recorded but not given the light of day until ’92 revelation, Live At The Philharmonic. Here in these live settings, Kristofferson’s interior, dark poetics get under your skin and inhabit your heart with human experiences far outside your own. It wasn’t country anymore. It was dark junkie streets and the betrayals not just of lovers, but of politicians and the people in charge. It was broken veterans and their families. It was hungry, struggling farmers and people in countries far beyond our supposedly safe borders. Yes, Dylan was right, and The Complete Monument & Columbia Album Collection, even with its obvious flaws, is the sheer, unvarnished proof.
– Mike Jurkovic