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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - The Complete Monument & Columbia Album Collection
Artist - Kris Kristofferson

The 80th birthday of songwriter, actor and country-music icon Kris Kristofferson is celebrated this very month with the release of The Complete Monument & Columbia Album Collection, a 16-CD deluxe box set from Sony Music's Legacy Recordings.

Out on June 10th, the truly incredible collection consists of 11 of Kristofferson's studio albums spanning the entire decade of the Seventies. At the same time he was recording his own material, Kristofferson's massive song catalog was mined for hits by artists ranging from Janis Joplin ("Me and Bobby McGee") to Ray Price ("For the Good Times") and beyond.

American singer, songwriter, musician and actor Kris[toffer] Kristofferson not only wrote all those songs, but other hit songs such as ‘Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down’ and Help Me Make It Through The Night’. Kristofferson composed his own songs and collaborated with Nashville songwriters such as Shel Silverstein throughout his career too. Indeed, in 1985, Kristofferson joined fellow country artists Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash in forming the country music supergroup The Highwaymen.

In 2004, Kristofferson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He is also known for his starring roles in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and A Star Is Born, the latter for which he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.

The 16 CD box-set The Complete Monument & Columbia Album Collection brings together 11 studio albums, recorded in the years spanning 1970 through to 1981, and an impressive five CDs of rarities, including complete unreleased concert recordings, non-LP singles, studio outtakes, and previously unreleased demos.

"Kristofferson" (1970) (AKA "Me and Bobby McGee")
"The Silver Tongued Devil and I" (1971)
"Border Lord" (1972)
"Jesus Was a Capricorn" (1972)
"Spooky Lady's Sideshow" (1974)
"Breakaway" (1974, with Rita Coolidge)
"Who's to Bless and Who's to Blame" (1975)
"Surreal Thing" (1976)
"Easter Island" (1978)
"Shake Hands With the Devil" (1979)
"To the Bone" (1981)
"Live at the Philharmonic, 1972" (1992)
"Live at The Big Sur Folk Festival, 1970" (new, also available digitally)
"Live at RCA Studios 1972: The WPLJ-FM Broadcast" (new, also available digitally)
"Extras" (new, also available digitally)
"Demos" (new, also available digitally)

In addition to this wealth of music the packaging includes 'facsimile sleeves' said to accurate reproduce original album artwork (expectations should be managed as far as this goes) and the box-set includes a deluxe booklet featuring essays and liner notes penned especially for this anthology including words by Monument Records founder Fred Foster, American writer Mikal Gilmore and Don Was.

Trust me when I say that Legacy Recordings has shown once again why they're one of the best in the biz when it comes to reissues. The sound is good (if not necessarily as good as it COULD be), the packaging looks great, and they're giving a great artist his due. Aside from the misnomer of billing this collection as if its the final word on Kristofferson's recordings for the labels, The Complete Monument & Columbia Albums Collection is still worth every penny.

By the way, one week after this box-set was issued, the Grammy-winning legend released a double album, The Cedar Creek Sessions, 25 songs recorded over a three-day period in the summer of 2014. The set includes stripped-down versions of some of Kristofferson's most revered tunes, including "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," a dark, meditative tune he penned while living in a tenement and going through a divorce. Johnny Cash would go on to record it in 1970, winning Kristofferson CMA Song of the Year honors for it.