Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Live on Letterman: Music from the late show

I am a part of the "Letterman Generation". If you don't know what that is, either you go to bed early or you're a part of it too.

See there used to be this guy named Johnny Carson who was on the Tonight Show before Jay Leno. His show was the grand tradition of late night TV. And then there was this guy behind him who my parents didn't get.

They didn't get his sarcastic sense of humor. They didn't get why that sarcasm was frequently trained on his celebrity guests. And they didn't get his music.

Along with his comedy style, the other reason to watch Letterman for me was his musical guests. He had people on I listened to, people Carson would never have on in a million years.

This CD collects some of the best live performances on Letterman's CBS Late Show and it's a knockout live sampler that shows how great a muscial venue the Letterman show is. I used to consider Saturday Night Live to be the best live music on TV but this CD shows Letterman now deserves that mantle.

The CD opens with an acoustic performance by David Grisman and Jerry Garcia, then moves to another acoustic performance, this one by Sheryl Crow performing "Strong Enough". Both songs are quiet and ease you into the album, allowing the virtuoso musicianship of Grisman and the pure Americana of Crow to shine through.

After this the album takes it up a notch in a big way, with the Dave Matthews Band performing "Too Much" and showing why they might just be the best live band touring today.

For a lot of albums this would be the high point but the next track is Aretha Franklin bringing the house down with one of her many seminal classics "Think".

After these two amazing tracks the album goes for another quiet song with Paula Cole doing a simply beautiful rendition of her hit "I don't want to wait".

After some very nice numbers by Elvis Costello, Lyle Lovett and Rod Stewart, the album takes it up again for the finish in a big way, beginning with one of my favorite REM songs "Crush with eyeliner". REM is a fantastic live band and this track is often overlooked among their many hits. This driving, raunchy live rendition is simply not to be missed and for me is the "must have" track on this CD.

The CD follows this track with Lenny Kravitz performing "Are you gonna go my way". Lenny is a great performer and always brings a ton of energy to his live performances and this track does not disappoint.

In short if you're looking for a live anthology or are a fan of any of the artists on this disc and want to pick up a live rarity that you may have missed, this CD is one you won't want to miss.

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