The title The Country Collection and the album cover, a photograph of Kris Kristofferson taken in the early '70s, might lead you to think that this British compilation is another of the many international best-ofs containing some combination of Kristofferson's best-known Monument recordings of the '70s. Instead, its 20 tracks consist of the complete contents of the singer/songwriter's two Mercury Records albums, 1987's Repossessed and 1990s Third World Warrior, presented in order. Repossessed, which takes up the first ten selections, was Kristofferson's first solo album in six years and demonstrated that he had become much more interested in politics as subject matter, from a left-wing Christian viewpoint. This was expressed most philosophically in the album's first single, "They Killed Him," which equated the assassinations of various twentieth century political figures with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, though even songs that were nominally about love, such as "The Heart" and "Love Is the Way," also seemed more like attempted anthems. This tendency is even more pronounced in the disc's last ten tracks, which made up Third World Warrior, virtually a concept album about American military involvement in conflicts in the Central American countries of El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s. Those conflicts had just been resolved when the original album came out, but that didn't keep Kristofferson from castigating the Republican Administration of the day or praising its opponents; Jesse Jackson even got his own song. Leaving aside the merits of Kristofferson's stance on such issues, his presentation of his viewpoint was simplistic and even idiosyncratic (particularly when he tried to recruit such unlikely figures as Gary Cooper onto his side). More important, anyone looking for the Kris Kristofferson of "Me and Bobby McGee" should be warned away from this album, which contains none of his popular recordings.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann