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4.8 out of 5 stars364
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on August 14, 2015
An essential album. Intimate and heartfelt. Draws you in and makes you want to listen nonstop, end to end. Shows that Nirvana didn't need to be loud to be great. Bonus: the recorded sound quality is fantastic and really captures the ambiance of this live session.
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on March 26, 2003
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.
----RIP Kurt----
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on December 22, 2003
Nirvana's Unplugged remains one of the band's most majestic moments. Coming hot off the heels of the noisy In Utero album, the band decided to stop into MTV's studios in New York City and play an acoustic set that completely erased any notions that they were just a simple "grunge" band. Kurt Cobain seems completely relaxed throughout, and he gives some staggeringly beautiful vocal performances. Dave Grohl plays the drums with wire brushes and demonstrates that he was just as capable of subtle shading as he was at hard-hitting fury. Krist Novoselic proves himself to be a worthwhile musician as well, playing accordion on "Jesus Doen't Want Me For a Sunbeam" in additon to playing a very solid-yet-laid back acoustic bass. Add former Germs guitarist Pat Smear to the lineup, as well as a guest appearance by the Kirkwood brothers of Tempe band the Meat Puppets, and you have all of the ingredients of that legendary November 1993 night.
All of the most obvious choices from Nevermind are featured here, "Polly," and "Something in the Way" of course, but their acoustic rendering of "On a Plain" is both relevatory and surprising, since I would not have expected them to include this song, and what's more it actually works as an acoustic! The classic "Come As You Are" is given more subtlely and emotion here, and that flanged guitar solo sounds positively stunning on an acoustic (actually he was using a half-acoustic/half-electric hybrid). The band also delivers some of the most mature songs from In Utero, too. "Dumb" sounds both blissful and melancholy at the same time, "All Apologies" is one of the highlights here, and "Pennyroyal Tea" stands as one of Kurt's most emotionally naked moments (I actually like the version here better).
Like the Beatles before him, Kurt Cobain had the uncanny ability to take any cover song and make it his own. From Devo to Leadbelly, David Bowie to the Vaselines, Kurt made it sound like all of these songs were his own, and he does this beautifully here as well, especially on their rendition of Bowie's "Man Who Sold the World," and of course, Leadbelly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night." The latter has to be one of Nirvana's most chilling moments of all time, especially near the close of the song, where Kurt is giving it his all. Then, with an impassioned cry of "SHIVEEERRRRR!" he pauses for a couple of seconds before finishing the line. At this moment, I have to say the silence is deafening and is absolutely haunting in the purest sense of the word. It seems ironic that a band who was known for noisy live performances could rip walls out (and hearts) with two seconds of silence. This, if nothing else, stands as a testament to Nirvana's gifts.
As life affirming as this can be to listen to, sometimes it can also be quite sad knowing that this is ultimately the last word from Nirvana before Kurt's untimely death. But if this was the band's (and Kurt's) swan song, it is certainly the best finale that one can have, and I would certainly want something this beautiful to be my farewell, too. Even ten years later (God, has it been that long already?), Nirvana's Unplugged session remains as fresh as it was at the time, and stands as one of their very best live performances (as well as their most unique). Whether you are a casual fan or a diehard, this album is not to be missed and you are doing yourself a grave injustice if you skip out. This isn't just an Unplugged session, it is an experience.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 4, 2015
It is amazing how much more depth and warmth you get from listening to vinyl. Seriously, buy this and the CD, or even MP3. Out of the same speakers, play one medium and compare to vinyl. I highly recommend this to anyones collection. This might be one of Nirvana's best releases.
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on September 13, 2013
i chose nirvana unpluged cause i like nivana and the unpluged version is good listening. i love it might be kinda much, but it is real good.any body that likes nirvana will like this and even if your not a nirvana fan try this one it's good
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on July 5, 2014
The final sigh of the last track wrote the story of the end of Nirvana. You could see it in his face; he was tired and Nirvana was over. But I think it was for the best. He said it himself, it's better to burn out than to fade away. Well, Neil Young said it, I suppose.

There is not a bad track on the album, and it is ghostly real and engrossing on vinyl with a nice set of speakers. A must have.
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on March 8, 2003
It's easy for some people just to dismiss the grunge era in the early nineties as sheer noise and nothing more. Sure there were a lot of pretenders who have fallen by the wayside but the real quality outshone everything else. The mark of a great band has been to strip them down, away from the overdrive pedals and large amps and into a more intimate enviroment. This is where the MTV unplugged series comes in and gives us some truly memorable performances.
That's where Nirvana dispelled the opinion that they were just noise. In this stripped down enviroment Kurt Cobain's song take on a whole new element. The album starts off with the usual whooping and hollering before the words "this is off our first record...most people don't own it" lead us into 'About A Girl' from the Bleach album. This has always been one of my favourite Nirvana tracks and it sounds it's best on this record. It's more clean and simple with the words "but I can't see you every night-free, I do" echoing out through Cobains nicotine scarred tonsils.
The Nevermind album gets the treatment on several tracks such as 'Come As You Are' and 'On A Plain'. These songs take a more laid back tone, they almost change into something your older generation could probably sing along to happily. You can imagine them chirping alog in the car with "I'm on a plain/I can't complain". Without the Drop-D tuning of electric guitars they just sound a lot more nicer. Of course the likes of 'Polly' and 'Something In The Way' will never be happy even if you played them on a harp.
The 'In Utero' album was a lot more acoustic then it's predecessor so it's no surprise that those tracks end up unplugged. 'Dumb' and 'Pennyroyal Tea' take on a more raw beauty, they sound more soulful and a lot better without Steve Albini's raw production. One of the albums real hi
ghlights comes from 'All Apologies'. With the addition of live strings it takes on a more uplifting tone, bringing in more live instruments and building it up into something that just build and builds.
The real attraction to buying this album is hearing Nirvana do some cover versions. Their version of Bowie's 'The Man Who Sold The World' cheats a little bit by bringing a bit of electric into the acoustic proceedings but it creates the backbone of the track. Word has it that Bowie really likes the version.
Nirvana even bring in some members of The Meat Puppets to add their talents to a Nirvana version of some 'Puppet's songs'. 'Plateau', 'Lake of Fire' and 'Oh Me' all keep up the high standard. Without the restrains of a guitar, Cobain opens on these songs vocal wise and it's a real pleasure to listen to. I reccomend you check out some Meat Puppets records as their albums are pretty good.
The real barnstorming track on here is the end song. Taking Leadbelly's 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night' could have been simple and restrained. Instead Cobain and Co make it something to anticipate from the opening riff. The song just builds and builds into something that just explodes into a traditional howling wail from Cobain. Adding in some forboding strings is the master touch and something which ends up being haunting considering what was to happen about 6 months later.
If you don't like Nirvana but love quality music then to be frank you need to have this album in your collection. It's on of the best live, unplugged performances you'll hear and let you see the band in a different light. When you consider that some bands done their unplugged sessions after weeks of rehearsal then this achievement is all the better.
Unplugged is one of those albums that points towards what could have been if Cobain hadn't taken his life in 1994. Thankfully the le
gal wranglings have been sorted and un-heard Nirvana material is now on the way. Until that time you can be content with the songs and the in-between banter that is on this record.
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on July 7, 2015
Such a great album and sounds very nice on vinyl. Not sure why its not stated in the product description but this is a 180 gram vinyl edition that was pressed in Germany (at least the copy I received was). Very Happy.
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on July 12, 2004
This is one of the weridest albums i own, in a way. Nirvana, a band which set the whole grunge scene going, and arguably one of the best in the genre, decided to make a live unplugged show for MTV. Nirvana, you know. Fat distortions, atonal riffs, raging vocals, powerful shows. Nirvana.
That they did *THIS* good is a surprise, and should change more than one peoples' mind about the artistic merits of the band (and Kurt Cobain in particular). Forget what you thought of this Nirvana; the way they morphed their songs (and others too) into mellow accoustic tunes is remarkable, and against all odds, worked great. I mean, my dad, who can't stand 99.9% of grunge, loves this record. It's easy to listen, but not because the songs are cheezy, it's just the complete album is incredibly good.
From start to finish, it transports you first row to this (unique) performance. Like i said, the whole record is excellent, but tracks like "Plateau", "Oh me", "On a plain", "Jesus don't want me for a sunbeam", "Where did you sleep last night?", and "All apologies" are so deeply moving i prefer to listen them by myself, wearing headphones. I can only imagine, closing my eyes, what have it felt to be there.
This is hands down one of the best albums of the 90's, and easily one of the top 10 live recordings of all history. It's hard to say this things without sounding like a fanboy, but the truth is that it simply is. Whatever your musical cup-of-tea is, you deserve to give this record a listen. People argue about how much they like this album - i dare you find someone who doesn't.
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on April 30, 2004
There is no mistake about everyone giving this album a rating of five stars. This is the most surprising, deep, insightful and soulful performance Nirvana had ever assembled.
The set begins with Cobain's dry sense of humor, coyly commenting "This song's off our first record, most people don't own it" before leading into the origins of Nirvana, "About a Girl". The acoustic element added a tremendous amount of depth and yearning to this song, and it was only the beginning. "Come As You Are" was unearthed like a brand new creation; echoes reverberating magically through the small concert hall. Expectations were high - what could follow this great 1-2 punch opening?
A cover?
Yes, Nirvana was playing a cover in their Unplugged set. The crowd sat silent as Kurt revealed the next song was written by The Vaselines, and the band began a beautiful rendition of "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For a Sunbeam". This song was brought out of nowhere and instantly spread across the world by Cobain's range, Krist Novoselic changing gears and playing the accordian, and the others playing as though this was their song all along.
The assimilation of others' music into Nirvana's repetoire continues with the next track, David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World". Cobain cheats a bit and distorts his acoustic guitar, but with simple and haunting results. In all honesty, Nirvana's version sounds miles better than the original, and was played (and still is played) on alternative radio stations across the country.
The following quintet returned to Nirvana originals, all performed in the same emotional intensity that doesn't skip a beat anywhere in this performance. Kurt playing solo on "Pennyroyal Tea" is worth the price of this disc alone, with its indescribable power only preceded by his dry humor ("I think I'm going to try it in the normal key, and if it sounds bad... these people are just going to have to wait.") "Polly", "Dumb", "On a Plain" and "Something in the Way" all floored the audience, each sounding like an entirely new song and infinitely improved.
Kurt invited his longtime friends the Kirkwood Brothers, constituents of the band the Meat Puppets. The story goes, Kurt sat his wife Courtney Love down to play some incredible songs for her. He put on the Meat Puppets' originals, and Love loathed how rushed each song felt. Kurt then brought out his guitar and played the songs *his* way, and she was absolutely floored. If you compare the originals to Kurt's covers, you will agree. His essence absolutely floods these three songs, especially the amazing "Oh Me".
In closing, the full Nirvana band returned to play an appropriate and impressive "All Apologies", then one last masterpiece - a cover of Leadbelly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?". Cobain hides absolutely nothing and pours every last drop of his trademark vocal strain into this song. The instrumental outro leaves you feeling not only satisfied, but it gently returns you to your day, leaving this transported place that defies all definition, exceeds all expectation, and transcends all time.
The fans cheered for an encore, and Grohl, Novoselic and Smear felt up to it - they went to ask Kurt, and he denied the request; he had nothing left to give. After listening to this disc, you have nothing to do but agree.
And one last tidbit - this performance was all recorded in one take. Another legacy of Nirvana's unimaginable talent.
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