By the time of Shake Hands With the Devil, the ninth album of Kris Kristofferson's ten-album contract with Monument Records, he must have considered his recording career an afterthought to his more prominent career in the movies. That's what's suggested by this album, to which he's given little thought. It consists mainly of old material: The title song is a previously unheard 1970 copyright; "Come Sundown" and "Once More With Feeling" are also 1970 songs, both of them country hits, one for Bobby Bare, the other for Jerry Lee Lewis; Atwood Allen and Kim Fowley's "Michoacan" was featured in Kristofferson's 1971 film Cisco Pike; Tom Ghent's "Whiskey, Whiskey," a 1970 country hit for Nat Stuckey, was in Kristofferson's concerts as far back as 1972; "Killer Barracuda" is a 1975 copyright; and Kristofferson wrote "Seadream" for his 1976 film The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea. Of the remaining three songs, "Lucky in Love" and "Fallen Angel" are co-compositions with Mike Utley and Stephen Bruton ("Fallen Angel" is also co-credited to Kristofferson's soon-to-be-ex-wife Rita Coolidge). So, the only new composition solely by Kristofferson is the regretful ballad "Prove It to You One More Time Again." The result is a patchy collection with no really unified feeling. "Prove It to You One More Time" and "Lucky in Love" both have a slight Caribbean feel, while "Michoacan" is in Tex-Mex style, and "Once More With Feeling" employs a horn section for a Dixieland effect. Kristofferson sounds unusually relaxed, though his wheezy vocals, augmented by Utley, Bruton, Coolidge, and Billy Swan, are no better than usual. Shake Hands With the Devil became Kristofferson's first album not to reach the charts at all, though surprisingly "Prove It to You One More Time Again" got into the lower reaches of the country singles charts.
Shake Hands with the Devil Review
by William Ruhlmann