Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Kris Kristofferson

  • Kristofferson [Monument, 1970] C
  • The Silver Tongued Devil and I [Monument, 1971] C-
  • Songs of Kristofferson [Columbia, 1977] C
  • This Old Road [New West, 2006] Dud
  • Closer to the Bone [New West, 2009] Choice Cuts

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Kristofferson [Monument, 1970]
"Me and Bobby McGee" is only the beginning--this former Rhodes scholar is as deft and common as any songwriter in Nashville, though he's better off keeping it personal with a heartbreak song like "For the Good Times" than justifying his scruffy appearance with penny-ante satire like "Blame It on the Stones." But he's the worst singer I've ever heard. It's not that he's off key--he has no relation to key. He also has no phrasing, no dynamics, no energy, no authority, no dramatic ability, and no control of the top two-thirds of his six-note range. Recommended to demo collectors. C

The Silver Tongued Devil and I [Monument, 1971]
People say Kris is ruined by producer Fred Foster. Note, however, that the ruin isn't commercial but artistic--the man sells a lot better than Randy Newman. That's because Kris's pet paradox--hobo intellectual as Music Row hit man--almost demands extraneous strings. Ungainly, not to say dishonest. C-

Songs of Kristofferson [Columbia, 1977]
Over the years, Kristofferson has learned enough about acting to challenge George Burns as a crooner, although the veteran is stronger in the rebop department. It's conceivable he might even do somewhat better now on some of his great early songs. But not on this glorified repackage. C

This Old Road [New West, 2006] Dud

Closer to the Bone [New West, 2009]
"When You Set Me Free" Choice Cuts