David Letterman's The Late Show always had a long tradition of excellent musical performances -- indeed, it's one of the few places on American network television where live music thrives -- so the question that surrounds the 1997 release of Live on Letterman: Music from the Late Show isn't why, but why did it take so long? There have been enough remarkable performances to fill several CDs, so hopefully this disc is the first in a series, but even if it isn't, there's plenty of great music on this 14-track album to make it satisfying. Not everything here will suit the tastes of every listener, but there are a number of wonderful moments, whether it's one-off duets from Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach ("God Give Me Strength"), Lyle Lovett and Al Green ("Funny How Time Slips Away") Jerry Garcia and David Grisman ("Friend of the Devil"), Jewel and Flea ("You Were Meant for Me") and Van Morrison, Sinéad O'Connor and the Chieftains ("Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?") or dynamic performances from R.E.M. ("Crush with Eyeliner"), Sheryl Crow ("Strong Enough"), Lenny Kravitz ("Are You Gonna Go My Way"), Rod Stewart ("Reason to Believe") and Patti Smith ("Who Do You Love"). The end result is one of the few soundtracks that is more than a memento.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine