Nirvana - "Unplugged" Classic or Dud?

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During my well-documented foibles and adventures in e-Bay, I managed to bid on and win a copy of Nirvana's legendary "Unplugged". Listening back to this after several years of not having heard it, it strikes me that this is something quite peculiar. Considering the band had released the over-driven fuckoff that was "In Utero" and that Kurt was on the brink of whatever it was, how strange that they recorded this?
Also, how classic is getting Meat Puppets to come on and do three of their songs on your own MTV show?
I'd also like to ask whether you consider this just another live album or a great recording in its own right?

wogan lenin (dog latin), Friday, 14 July 2006 09:27 (twelve years ago) Permalink

a great recording in its own right.

Thread ends.

mark grout (mark grout), Friday, 14 July 2006 09:30 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Unplugged heralded the direction they were going to be going in if Kurt hadn't died: stripped down, folksy, less-angsty. So I don't think it's so strange. I remember my teenage self feeling vaguely let down by it when it initially was broadcast because the mellow vibe seemed to lack the overt oomph - no guitar smashing, etc,etc - that one came to expet from Nirvana shows. Of course, that was the point. So, yeah, it's a great recording in its own right as opposed to From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah which is just a good live album.

My only memory of the live performace is Kurt chain smoking throughout it. Oddly enough, it's probably one of the few things that you couldn't get away with on MTV today that you could then.

Jacobo Rock (jacobo rock), Friday, 14 July 2006 10:58 (twelve years ago) Permalink

yeh, but having bowling balls dropped onto your nads from a great height and eating tons of eggnog is just fine...

I think Unplugged is maybe one of the Nirvana albums I've listened to the most out of all of them. Therefore I often forget in my head that Nirvana really did rock out. Songs like Pennyroyal Tea take on a completely different vibe when played through on Unplugged than on In Utero.

wogan lenin (dog latin), Friday, 14 July 2006 11:02 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I absolutely LOVE the part towards the end of "The Man Who Sold the World" where Cobain replaces Bowie's "aaaah aah" of the original with a gorgeous solo that follows the same notes..

willem -- (willem), Friday, 14 July 2006 11:08 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I like the way he sounds like Butthead when he announces at the end that it was a David Bowie song.

wogan lenin (dog latin), Friday, 14 July 2006 11:16 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Good record, probably woudn't have been so memorable had he continued living. To me, hearing his tunes in this setting showed the limitations of his songwriting. Guy wasn't exactly a fountain of melody, I mean, "Dumb"? The covers sound more complete. I still like it though.

Mark (MarkR), Friday, 14 July 2006 11:29 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I don't like it. Perhaps I should. I do like Muddy Banks though.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller 68), Friday, 14 July 2006 11:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

-unfuckwithable-

andy dale (andy dale), Friday, 14 July 2006 11:54 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Pretty fucking classic for the Leadbelly cover alone. Can you really imagine Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins etcetera channeling that much pain & anguish (a bit beyond "angst) from an old blues guy and pulling it off without appearing utterly asinine?

I think this recording probably set them apart from their grunge contemporaries and I suspect their legacy would have felt far smaller & less vital without it.

fandango (fandango), Friday, 14 July 2006 12:30 (twelve years ago) Permalink

It's actually my favorite Nirvana album. Nevermind and In Utero are great, but they can also sound a little mannered. This is just perfect.

totph (Totph), Friday, 14 July 2006 12:39 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I'm not a huge Nirvana fan, but I prefer their hard rocking sound, especially In Utero.

I don't find this album very strange or unusual because every popular band at the time was doing MTV Unplugged sessions, and Nirvana stuck pretty close to the format. They don't seem to be re-working their songs, just playing them at a lower volume on acoustic instruments. I wouldn't be surprised if this was how Kurt Cobain wrote the songs in the first place.

Now the LL Cool J unplugged, that was awesome!

Matt Olken (Moodles), Friday, 14 July 2006 13:59 (twelve years ago) Permalink

yeah this one's all right...the bowie + leadbelly + mp's covers are cool, but i can't think of too many of the originals where i'd rather hear the acoustico version over the album one. annoyingly used for added poingnancy/credibility with the mom&dad set post-suicide, too.

FAN DEATH (teenagequiet), Friday, 14 July 2006 14:02 (twelve years ago) Permalink

All I remember is sweaters and lilies. Sweaters and lilies. And Pat Smear.

Justin Shumaker (shueytexas), Friday, 14 July 2006 14:58 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Oh, and it's also one of my all-time faves.

Justin Shumaker (shueytexas), Friday, 14 July 2006 14:58 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam"! W/ Krist Novoselic playing accordion! So so very awesome! This is really a great record, probably the best Unplugged of all.

the doaple gonger (nickalicious), Friday, 14 July 2006 15:18 (twelve years ago) Permalink

By a long way = not saying too much...

mark grout (mark grout), Friday, 14 July 2006 15:19 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Oh wait, there was CELLO too! Cobain voice + cello = goosebumps.

the doaple gonger (nickalicious), Friday, 14 July 2006 15:21 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Pretty fucking classic for the Leadbelly cover alone. Can you really imagine Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins etcetera channeling that much pain & anguish (a bit beyond "angst) from an old blues guy and pulling it off without appearing utterly asinine?
-- fandango (...), Today 6:30 AM. (fandango)

Considering Kurt learned the song when he played guitar on Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees)'s first solo record, from which Kurt borrowed the arrangement for Unplugged... yes, I can imagine a "grunge" contemporary channeling that much pain & anguish from an old blues guy and pulling it off without appearing utterly asinine.

Steve Shasta (Steve Shasta), Friday, 14 July 2006 15:45 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Shh, Steve, you're giving it away!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 14 July 2006 15:45 (twelve years ago) Permalink

im not a nirvana fan, but the unplugged album is the only one i can really get into. i love Where Did You Sleep Last Night...great ledbelly cover.

Pop Ryan (Rebelwordsmith), Friday, 14 July 2006 16:04 (twelve years ago) Permalink

xpost - YSI? ;-)

I can't really recall Screaming Trees so well, but I know (from friends) Mark Lanegan's apparently had kind of a satisfying post-grunge career.

I wasn't so much reinforcing the brick wall of "Nirvana = best rock eva?" Or writing off every act (though there was plenty of shit about)... Just acknowledging that "Unplugged" helped give them even more gravitas than just the early death of Kurt did. And it wasn't just that song. Nice bit of info though :)

fandango (fandango), Friday, 14 July 2006 16:15 (twelve years ago) Permalink

xp - yeah this generally seems to be the Nirvana album for people who don't really like Nirvana (what i meant by "credibility for the mom&dad set")

FAN DEATH (teenagequiet), Friday, 14 July 2006 16:15 (twelve years ago) Permalink

fandango, what's your e-mail addy?

willem -- (willem), Friday, 14 July 2006 17:25 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Undeniably classic.

My favorite moment: when Cobain looks up in between the words "the whole" and "night through" at the end of the last chorus. Holy shit. If you don't remember what I'm talking about (or even if you do), I recommend re-watching:
http://youtube.com/watch?search=nirvana+unplugged&v=zwlvNellAH0

Also, some amusing in-between-songs footage here:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=BO_vpPCxbow&search=nirvana%20unplugged

Interesting about Lanegan doing that song first. I'd like to hear that.

Nigel (Nigel), Friday, 14 July 2006 18:34 (twelve years ago) Permalink

My least favorite Nirvana record. What was most annoying to me was radio picking up Unplugged's version of "About a Girl" and "All Apologies", ignoring the more definitive album versions.

kickitcricket (kickitcricket), Friday, 14 July 2006 19:09 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Classic. I agree with whoever wrote above that the acoustic format accentuates how weak some of the melodies are ("Pennyroyal Tea," specifically).

On a minor note I felt vindicated at the time by Nirvana's decision to cover "The Man Who Sold The World," the first tentative step towards Bowie's rediscovery by American collegiates.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Friday, 14 July 2006 21:06 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i like how the manics covered "pennyroyal tea" and changed the title to "penny royalty."

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Friday, 14 July 2006 21:07 (twelve years ago) Permalink

yeah, that's clever...given that it was the pun all along.

paulhw (paulhw), Friday, 14 July 2006 21:12 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i kind of doubt that

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Friday, 14 July 2006 21:20 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Dud. It is overrated for what it is. MTV unpluggs are corny in general. I.E. Kiss, LL Cool J, Squeeze, etc. The only credible one is Neil Young's unplugged.

Addison Braden (Forensic Scene), Saturday, 15 July 2006 15:37 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I was with you up to Neil Young.

More Tongue Feldman (noodle vague), Saturday, 15 July 2006 15:37 (twelve years ago) Permalink

J. D., the chorus ends "Sit and drink pennyroyal tea/I'm anemic royalty."

Anyway, loved it to death at the time, never listen to it now.

Sundar (sundar), Saturday, 15 July 2006 15:39 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I was with you up to Neil Young.

Indeed. Explain 'credible,' Addison.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 15 July 2006 15:46 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I believe his people and his age do not really give a hoot what MTV thinks., Mtv are not playing videos for him, it's not like he needs the publicity. I mean yeah Dylan did a good job and others, but I think Neil felt like he didn't mind if the performance crash and burned or was his best concert ever. I hope that answers your question.

Addison Braden (Forensic Scene), Saturday, 15 July 2006 15:53 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Okay Geir, the jig's up.

More Tongue Feldman (noodle vague), Saturday, 15 July 2006 16:00 (twelve years ago) Permalink

ha ha ha ha ha

Pashmina (Pashmina), Saturday, 15 July 2006 16:08 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Score. ;-)

Meantime, vaguely more seriously:

I think Neil felt like he didn't mind if the performance crash and burned or was his best concert ever. I hope that answers your question.

You know, around the time that the Nirvana performance came out on disc, David Fricke wrote something in either RS or MM saying about how he really enjoyed the Nirvana performance (which he attended) in part because it was a straight one-take deal -- whereas in comparison the Neil Young performance, which he also attended, involved a slew of multiple retakes of songs, stops and starts and the like.

So, you see, I think he minded. ;-)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 15 July 2006 16:11 (twelve years ago) Permalink

It's kinda laughable to think that Neil Young, who spent so much time in the early 90s riding the Grunge bandwagon, didn't care about MTV.

More Tongue Feldman (noodle vague), Saturday, 15 July 2006 16:13 (twelve years ago) Permalink

considering i probably listened to this CD, oh, 500 times in 1992 while playing Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past and Earthworm Jim for sega i'm gonna have to say

CLASSIC

my favorite nirvana album, too. "man who sold the world." damn.

poortheatre (poortheatre), Saturday, 15 July 2006 16:38 (twelve years ago) Permalink

In 1992, eh? Very precocious of you.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 15 July 2006 16:40 (twelve years ago) Permalink

damn.. that was an estimate haha

poortheatre (poortheatre), Saturday, 15 July 2006 16:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Link to the Past was never on Sega.

Marmot 4-Tay: what those guyz make music 4. (marmotwolof), Saturday, 15 July 2006 19:00 (twelve years ago) Permalink

yea but earthworm jim was

poortheatre (poortheatre), Saturday, 15 July 2006 19:01 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I had the SNES version.

Marmot 4-Tay: what those guyz make music 4. (marmotwolof), Saturday, 15 July 2006 19:04 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i don't think i ever beat it

poortheatre (poortheatre), Saturday, 15 July 2006 19:06 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Really? I beat it a few times at least. Sega had an extra level though, maybe that made it harder.
I'm sure I played through that Zelda game at least 10 times. Probably listened to a lot of Nirvana and Lemonheads while doing it...think I was on to Pavement and GbV when EJ came out.

Marmot 4-Tay: what those guyz make music 4. (marmotwolof), Saturday, 15 July 2006 19:09 (twelve years ago) Permalink

NINJA GAIDEN III YOU FOOLS

Thomas Tallis (Tommy), Saturday, 15 July 2006 19:20 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I never even beat Ninja Gaiden ONE, but I've beaten Ninja Gaiden Black on XBOX.

Marmot 4-Tay: what those guyz make music 4. (marmotwolof), Saturday, 15 July 2006 19:25 (twelve years ago) Permalink

listen to nirvana lyrics. actually i'm sorry, READ nirvana lyrics. that will answer it all.

corey c (shock of daylight), Sunday, 16 July 2006 07:38 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Reading Nirvana lyrics will enable me to beat Ninja Gaiden 1?

Marmot 4-Tay: what those guyz make music 4. (marmotwolof), Sunday, 16 July 2006 07:41 (twelve years ago) Permalink

classic! my favourite of their's, by a considerable distance. great covers, and pretty good versions of nirvana songs.

Alexei (alexei), Sunday, 16 July 2006 12:00 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Reading Nirvana lyrics will enable me to beat Ninja Gaiden 1?

I hear if you read Stone Temple Pilots lyrics you get a voice in your ear explaining how Pac-Man's controls work.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 16 July 2006 14:03 (twelve years ago) Permalink

It's kinda laughable to think that Neil Young, who spent so much time in the early 90s riding the Grunge bandwagon, didn't care about MTV.

-- More Tongue Feldman (noodle_vagu...), Yesterday 10:13 AM. (noodle vague)

Wow, this is a rather revisionist take on Neil Young's career... I recommend revisiting Neil Young's work.circa 1988-1991 (you know, when he toured with Sonic Youth and would end concerts with 30 minutes of feedback/noise). By 1992 (grunge explosion), Neil was back in acoustic-folk phase.

Steve Shasta (Steve Shasta), Sunday, 16 July 2006 21:18 (twelve years ago) Permalink

This note's for you.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 16 July 2006 21:41 (twelve years ago) Permalink

it contains some of my favourite vocals of all time, i think kurt's singing on it is gorgeous. i'm not a huge nirvana fan, but i do like them quite a bit, and i guess i'd hold this record in similar regard to 'nevermind' and 'in utero'.

weasel diesel (K1l14n), Sunday, 16 July 2006 22:22 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Overrated, moribund crap, apart from the plug to the Meat Puppets.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 17 July 2006 01:03 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I heard that reading Killing Joke lyrics makes you kick ass at Grand Theft Auto games.

Marmot 4-Tay: what those guyz make music 4. (marmotwolof), Monday, 17 July 2006 01:08 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Overrated, moribund crap, apart from the plug to the Meat Puppets.

Yay!

Edward Bax (EdBax), Monday, 17 July 2006 01:21 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I heard that reading Killing Joke lyrics makes you kick ass at Grand Theft Auto games.

I heard you exchanged your GTA games for guitars.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 17 July 2006 01:23 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I wish! Used games aren't worth shit.

Marmot 4-Tay: what those guyz make music 4. (marmotwolof), Monday, 17 July 2006 02:16 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I continue to respect Kurt Cobain primarily for the fact that he a) didn't pretend he was something revolutionary or even original, despite how much the hype machine wanted him/the band to be seen that way and that he b) gave a lot of props to music that *was* more original which his fans would do well to hear, a la Meat Puppets, Raincoats, Vaselines, Leadbelly, David Bowie, Pere Ubu, Wipers, et al. He was a sincere lover of music, and I like people who champion better music with their popularity.

Heard this for the first time in years the other day, and found it surprisingly listenable, given how long it's been since I've even thought about enjoying 90s rock'n'roll. I'll have to pull out the proper records and see if they do anything for me. . .

I.M. (I.M.), Monday, 17 July 2006 02:30 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Of all the albums I bought in 1994, there are only three which I have played regularly ever since: Madonna's Bedtime Stories, Ali Farka Toure/Ry Cooder's Talking Timbuktu, and this one. Favourite tracks: Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam, The Man Who Sold The World.

mike t-diva (mike t-diva), Monday, 17 July 2006 08:04 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Undeniably classic.
My favorite moment: when Cobain looks up in between the words "the whole" and "night through" at the end of the last chorus. Holy shit. If you don't remember what I'm talking about (or even if you do), I recommend re-watching:

More classic: When I set the video in my absence, that look was where the timer shut the late-running TV prog off!

mark grout (mark grout), Monday, 17 July 2006 08:36 (twelve years ago) Permalink

eleven years pass...

xp holy shit indeed https://i.imgur.com/EAFRzfR.jpg

startled macropod (MatthewK), Wednesday, 16 May 2018 01:18 (three months ago) Permalink

i would be the worst divorce court judge because if i saw anyone trying to claim their partner's father's guitar as part of a settlement, let alone kurt cobain's daughter, i would be like "you have brought shame upon your own family - you will receive nothing"

obviously DLC (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 16 May 2018 01:21 (three months ago) Permalink

I think that's a perfectly legit principle. When I die, I will fucking HAUNT anyone who tries to deny my daughters my guitar collection.

startled macropod (MatthewK), Wednesday, 16 May 2018 02:21 (three months ago) Permalink

what an asshole that dude is. imagine how shitty you have to be to insist on keeping something that belonged to your partner's dead father in a divorce settlement.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Wednesday, 16 May 2018 02:26 (three months ago) Permalink

XP I'd pay to that Ghost Dad reboot!

Making Plans For Sturgill (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 16 May 2018 03:23 (three months ago) Permalink

clarence thomas, speaking for the third time in 25 years: "and so i do declare that no one, yea i say no one at all under any circumstance, shall receive the guitar of their partner's deceased parent"

obviously DLC (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 16 May 2018 03:47 (three months ago) Permalink


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