THE BRIDGE SCHOOL CONCERTS
LIVE ON LETTERMAN:
MUSIC FROM THE LATE SHOW
THESE two themed, live performance albums have, apart from the fact that they are released by the same record label, no direct relationship. Yet they fit like two parts of a dovetail joint. Both involve a raft of intriguing, one-off performances of originals and cover versions by some of the world's leading artists. The Bridge School Concerts is the first volume of live recordings, dating back to 1986, from performers marshalled by Neil Young to play at an annual charity concert that supports a Californian school for children with communication disabilities.
Young has fathered two children with cerebal palsy to different wives; he kicks off the album with a rendition of one of his early songs, I Am A Child. The stand-out cut is David Bowie's dramatically reworked acoustic version of Heroes, but other notable tracks are Pearl Jam's Nothingman, Elvis Costello and Young doing Allison and Ministry doing an impressive acoustic take on the Grateful Dead's Friend of the Devil.
On the Letterman album, Jerry Garcia does his own, slower version of the song, sweetened by David Grisman's mandolin. Jewel and Flea offer a delicate You Were Meant For Me, R.E.M. grinds out a crunching Crush With Eyeliner and Lou Reed stutters through a rousing Sweet Jane. Both albums close with Patti Smith.