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Various Artists

Don't Let The Bastards Get You Down A Tribute To Kris Kristofferson – 2002 (Jackpine Social Club)

Reviewed by Bill Silvers

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Kris Kristofferson's musical legacy is as a writer whose songs were recorded by dozens of artists, but as a performer, he was something of an acquired taste with his gruff, semi-spoken singing style. So, it's natural for Kristofferson to form the basis of a tribute record, where a number of different performers take a crack at his songs.

The artists here come mostly from the indie-rock and alt.-country side of the tracks, with the most familiar names generally providing the strongest contributions. Tom Verlaine shows he's lost little of his guitar skills with the leadoff track, "The Hawk." Former Go To Blazes guitarist Tom Heyman lends a welcome, lighter touch to the proceedings with "Sugar Man." Jon Langford and Chip Taylor's duet on "Help Me Make It Through The Night" is effective, as are Paul Burch, Beaver Nelson and John P. Strohm's contributions. A particular standout is Kelly Hogan's (ably backed by a Chicago all-star group of musicians) sensitive reading of "Why Me." While the relative lesser-known performers are a bit of a mixed bag (Oranger's spacey spaghetti-western "Casey's Last Ride" is a low point, Polara's "Just The Other Side of Nowhere" a higher one), overall the record is an interesting, worthwhile collection. ( E-Mail: Jackpine)