Greg’s Grab Bag – Bear Family Smoking Compilation/Kris Kristofferson
Greg’s Grab Bag
Various Artists – Smoke That Cigarette: Pleasure To Burn
The reissue masters at Germany’s Bear Family Records have done it again with a new compilation dedicated entirely to cigarettes and smoking. Although smoking is not as prevalent or popular as it once was in our society, this set shows the real impact this habit has made on music and pop culture.
From the earliest track on this set, the Reverend J.M. Gates’ 1939 cautionary sermon “Smoking Women In The Street,” to some of the more recent cuts like Jerry Reed’s humorous take on nicotine addiction, “Another Puff” and the spoken word, one-way conversation of Tommy Collins’ “Cigarette Milner,” this 32-track collection covers a lot of ground musically.
No collection of smoking songs would be complete without the country classics “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)” from Tex Williams or “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)” from Joe and Rose Lee Maphis, but it is the unexpected moments like Baker Knight’s “Smoke,” Wilf Carter’s “What Cigarette is Best” and Slim Dusty’s “Sad Cigarette,” along with two vintage cigarette radio ads from the ‘50s that put the familiar Bear Family stamp on this set and make it noteworthy.
Kris Kristofferson – Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends: The Publishing Demos 1968-72
Although the official press release from Light In The Attic Records claims that it was a project five years in the making, the new collection of previously unreleased Kris Kristofferson publishing demos has actually been in the making for over 40 years – dating back to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s when these spare and revealing recordings were made.
Publishing demos tend to be rough and rugged and are generally not recorded for public consumption. That said, the historical significance of this set trumps any sonic faults you may encounter along the way.
Kristofferson’s intensity as a performer is evident on some of the collections finer moments. The informed and road-weary imagery of “Border Lord” has a greater sense of urgency without the extra production work found on its studio version counterpart, while the humorous and opinionated “If You Don’t Like Hank Williams” benefits from a stripped-down acoustic guitar/vocal arrangement. Similarly Kristofferson’s somber “Epitaph (Black & Blue),” a heartbreaking and honest look at the death of Janis Joplin, becomes even more personal when you hear Kristofferson performing it accompanied only by piano and acoustic guitar.
The demo recordings on this set are ultimately memorable because they open a window on the past that reveals one of our most gifted songwriters working on perfecting his craft in the height of his creative prime.
Until next time, enjoy the music!