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Neil Young Unplugged >

VHS Tape
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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In Neil Young's world--to paraphrase John Lennon (who was quoting Harry Nilsson)--everything is the opposite of what it is. The fragile is epic, the epic is personal, the personal is a collective dream. Young's best songs are like Tennyson's poems, somehow always shimmering under scrutiny, somehow all the more soulful for evading fixed points of meaning. While there was nothing evasive about Young's negative opinions of MTV in the 1980s, both he and the cable channel had broad enough shoulders to collaborate on an Unplugged installment in 1993 featuring Young and a few of his friends. The result was one of the best events in the innovative series, a strong but relaxed, sharp but dreamy acoustic performance with several of Young's best live recordings in the '90s. Starting with a couple of folk-rock mysteries--the sorrowful "The Old Laughing Lady" and eerie classic "Mr. Soul"--Young lumbers beautifully from the fantastic, hippie elegy of "Pocahontas" to an unlikely psychedelic spin on "Like a Hurricane" (sounding a bit like "Strawberry Fields Forever").

The second half of the show finds a few other musicians strolling in, including Young's old ally, Nils Lofgren, with accordian, guitar, and harmonies at the ready. Young's unequivocally nongrungy sister, Astrid, and the late Nicolette Larson sweeten the vocals and add warmth to the instant-community atmosphere. Together, everyone reshapes the never-quite-on-the-money CSN&Y classic "Helpless" into a taut, private prayer, teases the tenderness and fun out of "Transformer Man," and makes "Harvest Moon" sound so delicate that anything else on the radio seems slightly obscene. The program ends with an encore performance of "From Hank to Hendrix," which, in this MTV context, comes across as a nonsubtle plea from a rock godfather to beware the momentum of time and change on popular music, to "still get it together" despite the pressures of fashion. A very satisfying experience all around. --Tom Keogh


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wasn't he unplugged already? Sept. 25 2003
Format:Audio CD
Given Neil Young's huge catalog and its inclusion of so much acoustic material, you might think that 'unplugging' him would just amount to his doing a show of his acoustic songs. Well, that certainly would have been the easy way. But if Neil took the easy way, he wouldn't be the Neil we've come to know and love.
In fact, although there is a generous helping of material on this CD that was originally released in 'acoustic' form, there are also a number of surprises. For this show, Neil took several highly non-'acoustic' songs and converted them.
One of my favorites is his bluesy, wailing version of 'Mr. Soul'. Originally a Buffalo Springfield tune, this time it's just Neil with his guitar and harmonica. I also like the stripped-down, countryfolkified performances of 'Old Laughing Lady' and 'World on a String'.
And wait until you hear what he's done with 'Transformer Man'. Even if you didn't like it before, you may like it now.
There's also 'Like a Hurricane', a blistering rocker originally released on _American Stars 'n' Bars_ (which, incidentally, is now available on CD at last!). Here Neil performs it solo, accompanying himself on pump organ.
This show took place not long after the release of the magnificent _Harvest Moon_, so there are a couple of selections from that album. And the rest is what you'd expect -- a set of solid performances of old and new favorites, some well-known and some obscure, from all stages of Neil's long career. "The Needle and the Damage Done', 'Look Out for My Love', 'Long May You Run' -- this stuff is never going to wear out its welcome.
One last highlight: Neil also does a fine tune called 'Stringman' (which I suspect is about Stephen Stills); I don't believe I'd ever heard it, or even heard _of_ it, before this release.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Brilliance of Depression May 29 2004
Format:Audio CD
This album is probably the best acoustic performance Neil has done in awhile. Everyone knows this is a great album. I just want to clarify that the version of "Mr. Soul" on this album is the way he ORIGINALLY wrote it. He did not remake this song...the Buffalo did that in the 60's. So there's a little more incentive for you to buy this record.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good cross selection of material July 23 2002
Format:Audio CD
Although Neil Young is almost universally considered one of the finest rock songwriters, he has an almost perversely huge back catalog (several of which have never been released on CD), more than a few uneven albums, and a self-imposed lack of anthologies. Young, who has always alternated between blistering, grunge-inciting guitar noise riots and gentle, acousitc folk in his own music, was a natural choice - indeed, you might even say a forebearer - for MTV's Unplugged program. Unlike many other veteran rockers (say, Dylan) who chose to offer up a "Greatest Hits" sort of set when their turn on Unplugged came, Neil's selections veer across his entire career, seeming almost arbitrary at times. Although there are some of his more prominent acoustic numbers here (The Needle And The Damage Done, Pocahontas) as well as several numbers from his most recent album at the time, Harvest Moon, there are also tracks dating back to his Buffalo Springfield days and his first solo album, as well as some definitely obscure numbers (Transformer Man, which was completely remade in this acoustic setting; the previously unreleased Stringman, and others.) It is a neat deal and quite a treat for the Young fan to see him perform such a wide cross section of material. Several songs are completely remade in this acoustic context (Mr. Soul, Transformer Man), and many others have already mentioned the standout pump organ/harmonica-led version of Like A Hurricane. This is an essential purchase for the Neil Young fan, and, in point of fact, not a bad early pick for the neophyte.
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5.0 out of 5 stars cd Jan. 21 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
excellent cd and lot of good old songs I really love it and I recommand it to all my friends
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5.0 out of 5 stars Neil Young at his best. April 3 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Neil Young's acoustic musicianship is so appropriate to much of his music. Great collection of his songs, and wonderful performances.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Artist..That's for Sure! July 11 2004
Format:Audio CD
Neil doesn't disappoint. I would love to see him in concert and do the national anthem Hendrix-style. That would be interesting.
From "Mr. Soul" to "Hurricane" this is a great collection!
Alot of us in our 40's are still very fond of Neil.
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Format:Audio CD
The tense atmosphere of this acoustic performance(Created undoubtedly by Young himself as he barely exchanges a word with his wooed audience) works well on haunting numbers like the brilliant 'Pocahontas' and 'Mr Soul'. The one sour point is that he didn't play some of his more upbeat country numbers to lighten the atmosphere. '' I hear myself sing like a long lost friend'' whines Young on 'Hank to Hendrix' pretty much summing up this performance-Dark, depressing but irresistably brilliant.
Good work Neil, but relax and lighten up just a tad!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Marlon Brando, Pocahontas and Him June 22 2003
Format:Audio CD
Neil Young Unplugged is gorgeous. Each rendition of Neal's captivating songs sounds poignant, nostalgic and beautiful. There isn't one note that goes to waste here. Every song is just perfectly performed. Like A Hurricane, Harvest Moon and Transformer Man are my favorites. Give this cd a try. It won't let you down.
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