Who's to Bless and Who's to Blame/To the Bone

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
It's difficult to figure out Wounded Bird's scheme for its ambitious Kris Kristofferson reissue program. The four volumes in the series contain eight albums. Only half of them are issued in chronological order. Why they chose to skip around and not simply release these two-fers in historical release sequence is a mystery; it would have made it a lot easier for the listener to pick and choose. This set, combining 1975's excellent Who's to Bless and Who's to Blame and the songwriter's final album for Monument, the truly brilliant and criminally underheard To the Bone, which was released in 1981, is an excellent case in point but does prove an exception to the rule in this ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
It's difficult to figure out Wounded Bird's scheme for its ambitious Kris Kristofferson reissue program. The four volumes in the series contain eight albums. Only half of them are issued in chronological order. Why they chose to skip around and not simply release these two-fers in historical release sequence is a mystery; it would have made it a lot easier for the listener to pick and choose. This set, combining 1975's excellent Who's to Bless and Who's to Blame and the songwriter's final album for Monument, the truly brilliant and criminally underheard To the Bone, which was released in 1981, is an excellent case in point but does prove an exception to the rule in this reissue program. The reason for the latter is that thematically, these recordings link up spectacularly. The former title features a stellar studio band including guitarist Fred Tackett, keyboardist Mike Utley, and bassist Leland Sklar. Backing vocals were provided by everyone from Kristofferson's then-wife Rita Coolidge, Herb Pedersen, Clydie King, Venetta Fields, and even actor Warren Oates! The nine songs focus on themes of moral compromise, particularly those within interpersonal relationships. and from the perspective of political power. There are some terrific love songs "Easy Come On", and anthemic rockers "The Year 2000 Minus 25", and the stellar title track. The latter half of the set, To the Bone, is one of Kristofferson's greatest recordings. Produced by the great Norbert Putnam, it begins with "Magdalene," the tenth track on this set. Kristofferson's band was comprised of his touring unit and some guests. Featured musicians include Stephen Bruton, Donnie Fritts, Billy Swan, Glen Clark, and drummer Sammy Creason -- the greatest breakbeat drummer Nash Vegas ever hatched. Thematically, this is a darker, angrier record. Kristofferson was going through his divorce to Coolidge when he wrote most of these songs, and cut them in the direct aftermath. The taut, rocking leanness of the sound was some strange contrast of country, rock, and pop, but the lyrics and melodies are purely the poetry of survival and disillusionment. The lyric: "I've just seen the sweetest dream/wind up like a curse...." on "Prove It to You One More Time Again." Other songs, like "The Devil to Pay" and "Snakebit," basically speak for themselves, but there isn't a weak link on the entire set. Anyone remotely interested in Kristofferson as a writer, let alone a recording artist, would do well to check this set out. Yes, the presentation is downright crummy, but all Wounded Bird titles are guilty of this. It shouldn't keep a prospective listener or longtime fan from picking this up. These two albums have one thing in common: They showcase a tremendous artist at peak periods in his career, strong, focused, and as tough and visionary as a song poet gets.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/7/2009
  • Label: Wounded Bird Records
  • UPC: 664140337923
  • Catalog Number: 3379
  • Sales rank: 9,571

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Kris Kristofferson Primary Artist, Guitar, Vocals, 12-string Guitar, Musician
Rita Coolidge Background Vocals
Donnie Fritts Keyboards, Choir, Chorus, Musician
Clydie King Background Vocals
Billy Swan Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocals, Musician
Bobbye Hall Percussion, Conga, Musician
Stephen Bruton Guitar, Musician
Glen Clark Keyboards, Vocals, Musician
Sammy Creason Drums, Musician
Nick DeCaro Accordion, Musician
Jerry McGee Acoustic Guitar, Dobro, Electric Guitar, Musician
Warren Oates Choir, Chorus
Terry Paul Background Vocals
Herb Pedersen Background Vocals
Lee Sklar Bass, Musician
Fred Tackett Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Musician
Mike Utley Keyboards, Choir, Chorus, Moog Synthesizer, Musician
Mentor Williams Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Norbert Putnam Producer
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