Although Nirvana's studio work was great (particularly In Utero), this live album of November 1993 solidified the band's legend.
The concept behind Unplugged was decidedly unusual. Here was an intense, loud punk band from Seattle playing acoustic. An odd concept indeed, but Cobain, Grohl, and Novoselic were more than up to the task with a beautiful 14-song set. To my knowledge, Nirvana was the first to play an entire Unplugged session in a single take, which makes the quality of the performance all the more remarkable.
Instead of just playing a list of popular hits (as Alice In Chains did in the Unplugged format), Kurt decided to pay homage to the band's indie roots with covers of the Vaselines (Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam), David Bowie (The Man Who Sold The World, featuring the only plugged guitar), and three selections from Meat Puppets II (Plateau, Oh Me, Lake Of Fire). All of these renditions are pure gold, and I consider them superior to the originals.
Their studio work takes on a new dimension without the electric distortion. About A Girl sends shivers up my spine, Come As You Are sounds even more impressive acoustic, Dumb is filled with beautiful stringwork, Pennyroyal Tea becomes a haunting solo ballad, and All Apologies changes from raw to meloncholy. Most of these songs are at least equivalent to the studio versions, with All Apologies being much better than the harsh In Utero version.
The best track of all though is the unforgettable Where Did You Sleep Last Night. In this Leadbelly cover, Kurt lets all the feeling hit home, especially toward the end with his piercing screams. I've never heard a more emotional song in my life, and I always shed a tear listening to it.
This one ranks as the best live album of the 1990's and among the best ever. If you love Nirvana, definitely buy this one. If you never considered buying a Nirvana album, this one will make you a fan. Trust me.