Kris Kristofferson Robin Grayden - Essay

Robin Grayden

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Kristofferson's got a fixation about the devil—he called a previous album "The Silver Tongued Devil And I"—and he could be Old Nick himself for all I care, as long as he produces albums like this…. [While "Shake Hands With The Devil"] may not carry such masterpieces as "Sunday Morning Coming Down" or "Casey's Last Ride", for example, the songs linger in the memory; they're "sleepers" rather than instant hits….

The title track is a powerful rocker about a lustful lover…. Love comes in different guises, and Kristofferson exploits them with a variety of approaches—"Killer Barracuda" starts as an allegory; he's the predator in search of female prey. Then in "Whiskey, Whiskey" he's a failed lover getting solace from the bottle.

The soft approach to the subject is represented by "Prove It To You One More Time Again", a strong pop-country ballad with plenty of punch; and the hard approach by "Once More With Feeling"….

Kristofferson may have had problems in the past, but this album shows that he's lost none of his prowess as both a writer and an entertainer.

Robin Grayden, in his review of "Shake Hands with the Devil," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), November 31, 1979, p. 28.