Neil Young and his wife Pegi established the Bridge School -- an organization designed to help develop communication for children who have severe speech and physical disabilities -- in the mid-'80s and every year, they held a fund-raising acoustic concert for the foundation. These concerts became famous for the richness and diversity of artists, so it's a little surprising that it took nearly ten years for a live charity album to emerge from these shows. The Bridge School Concerts, Vol. 1 does not disappoint those who have eagerly awaited the release of this record. Culled from concerts over the Bridge's history, the album is filled with remarkable performances, from Young's opening "I Am a Child" to Patti Smith's closing "People Have the Power." Between those two tracks are 13 cuts from both classic rockers (Tom Petty, Bonnie Raitt, Simon & Garfunkel, Don Henley, David Bowie, the Pretenders) and young guns (Beck, Ministry, Pearl Jam, Tracy Chapman), as well as those who fall in between (Elvis Costello, Lovemongers, Nils Lofgren). Not everything is first-rate, but moments like Beck's "It's All in Your Mind," Pearl Jam's "Nothing Man," Chapman's "All That You Have Is Your Soul," Petty's "Shadow of a Doubt," Bowie's "Heroes," a reunited Simon & Garfunkel's "America," Costello's "Alison" and Ministry's surprising cover of the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil" make the endeavor a cut above the average charity album.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine