Boomkat Product Review:
No doubt to some of you younger scamps and whippersnappers out there, Kris Kristofferson will be best-known as the guy in Blade, Blade II, and if memory serves me correctly, Blade III, who wasn't Wesley Snipes or the guy from Bros. Of course, Kristofferson has enjoyed a seasoned (and Golden Globe-winning) acting career, making notable appearances in films by Sam Peckinpah and William Friedkin, but it's his enduring music career which is surely his defining body of work. Light In The Attic bill this album as their biggest release ever, packaging together Kristofferson's early demos for an album that's been over five years in the making. In addition to the great audio presentation, the album comes with sixty pages of liner notes, archival photos and reproductions of the original lyric sheets, with testimonials supplied by Dennis Hopper and Merle Haggard. The songs themselves are generally presented in their rawest form - some even retaining the mistakes and outtakes between the finished songs (something that only adds to the intimacy of the solo recordings). The album begins with what's surely Kristofferson's best know song: 'Me And Bobby McGee'. Although best known as a Janis Joplin or Roger Miller recording, there's little disputing the weight and brilliance of the piece when in the hands of its author - especially when the song lifts as the organ and echoing, choral background vocals show up. Presented here it sounds like one of the best cuts from Townes Van Zandt's catalogue. In addition to these wonderful acoustic renditions, you get full band pieces like 'Smile At Me Again' or 'Border Lord', but it's the more stripped down tracks that hit hardest, even when they're a bit jokey: over the years, his heroes - including Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan - covered Kristofferson's songs, and both artists get a doff of the stetson during the comparatively light 'If You Don't Like Hank Williams', which finds Kristofferson saluting Williams and the old Nashville he stood for ("Well I dig Bobby Dylan, I dig Johnny Cash/[...]/But if you don't like Hank Williams, buddy, you can kiss my ass" and so on). Elsewhere, similarly pared down performances of 'Just The Other Side Of Nowhere', 'Billy Dee' and the Leonard Cohen-esque 'Duvalier's Dream' all demonstrate the intensity and craftsmanship of Kristofferson's work. An outstanding and fittingly reverential release from Light In The Attic that comes with a very high recommendation.