MTV Unplugged premiered in 1989, showcasing musicians playing acoustic versions of their songs. It has spawned a series of memorable performances, most notably (to my generation, anyway), Nirvana's excellent set -- likely the first time a Leadbelly song was performed on MTV. So tonight, I bring you some of my favorite Unplugged moments. Share yours in the comments!
Apparently lead singer Liam Gallagher bailed at the last minute, so his brother Noel went ahead and sang lead in brother's place. According to Wikipedia, "Liam watched the performance and heckled the group from a balcony." In this clip, Noel sounds great:
"And this was a request of MTV, and we had to get the words on a computer, and I'm not sure they're right. But we're gonna give it a go, and here -- we -- go." One of many excellent performances from REM's Unplugged gig -- pick up the bootleg if you can find it. (Another standout is "Love is all Around", a Troggs cover.)
Nirvana does Bowie. One of many remarkable covers in this Nirvana set. Look how young they all are.
Sorry about the burned-in VTR playback timecode. I remember thinking Jeff Ament's hat was ridiculous, even way back then. I think my judgment holds up.
Beautiful, and perfectly suited to the acoustic format.
A little funky, and missing Garfunkel, of course. Compare to this 1970 live performance.
"I spent the best part of my losing streak in an Army Jeep, from what I can't recall." Catchy, a little sad around the edges, and smart -- I always loved this song, though this version is a little messy -- there are some tuning problems with Crow's guitar. It's still a gem.
Unlike the Pearl Jam bassist, LL's hat is completely appropriate. Because he hasn't got a shirt on, and he's kicking ass.
I bet they didn't have to get the lyrics to this "on a computer." (Also check out their cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams."
Got a favorite Unplugged performance I've left out? Post a link in the comments! See also: our MTV Unplugged: Revisited quiz.