Kris Kristofferson

The Very Best of Kris Kristofferson

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The Australian compilation The Very Best of Kris Kristofferson is an excellent selection of Kristofferson's early work, choosing 16 songs from six of the singer/songwriter's first seven solo albums, released between 1970 and 1976, including all 12 titles that were featured on the 1977 American compilation Songs of Kristofferson. As a musician, Kristofferson is best known for six songs that were hits for him or others in the early 1970s: "Me and Bobby McGee," "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "For the Good Times," "Sunday Morning Comin' Down," "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)," and "Why Me." The album features all of them, and they are the first six songs on the disc. Thereafter, things are a little less systematic, though there is a concentration on some of the tracks that were released as Kristofferson singles and in some cases made the lower reaches of the charts ("To Beat the Devil," "Josie," "Jesus Was a Capricorn," "The Pilgrim: Chapter 33"). Other than the big six, songs that were hits for fellow artists ("Jody and the Kid," "The Taker," "Nobody Wins") are excluded except for "Stranger," which was a hit for Johnny Duncan. The choices from Kristofferson's mid-'70s albums such as Who's to Bless...and Who's to Blame and Surreal Thing could have been better. And, of course, he recorded some worthwhile material and a few chart entries after mid-1976 that are not included. But that's only to say that this isn't a perfect Kristofferson compilation, just a very good one. (Note that the correct subtitle to "Jesus Was a Capricorn" is "Owed to John Prine," an admission that Kristofferson borrowed the song's melody from Prine, not "Ode to John Prine," as it is printed here.)

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