3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.
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.
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?
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.
on April 15, 2004
Nirvana has 4 albums recorded. And in those albums there are emotional songs, songs that need to be remade in unplugged version. This concert was token place in November of 1994. It is the best unplugged performance I would say. Even not so big of Nirvana fans would say this is an amazing cd. This album has great quality for a performance. But Nirvana didn't really moved around much like the "from the muddy bands of Wishka" performance. Which you should buy in addition to this cd.
There are some songs they should have performed though that would have been great like "Lithium" and "Heart Shaped Box". But they still performed awesome songs like "come as you are", which sounds amazing unplugged, "something in the way", and "All Apologies". All apologies is my favorite song out of this album. Along with come as you are. I also loved the song "plateau", which is an original song that is not on any nirvana album.
I really enjoyed this album. If you like soft center music, like the Beatles, you will definitely just love this album. I think this is one of Nirvanas best album. It is very sensational and very different from the grunge era. This album was recorded 11 years ago, and people including me, still enjoy listening to this record. Ten years without Kurt, it just isn't the same. May Kurt Donald Cobain R.I.P
on February 19, 2004
Many people were surprised by the release of Nirvana's beautiful "Unplugged" sessions, because it became apparent, perhaps for the first time, how good this band really was. Kurt Cobain showed the true passion with which he sang, and he showed he was not only able to scream through pain.
The songs here speak volumes, as this was the last recording made before Cobain killed himself in 1994. There is the beauty of "All Apologies", the irony of "Come As You Are" and "Jesus Don't Want Me for a Sunbeam" and the great covers of the Meat Puppets songs "Lake of Fire" and "Plateau". But the two best songs here are also covers. The unbelievable tenderness of "Oh Me" and the fiery passion of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" make this album something that is begging to be heard. It was as though Cobain already knew this was the end, singing the final song of the set with as much intensity as he had created over his entire career, his voice cracking and him needing to take extended breaths just to keep up with himself. It is this final song, a cover from Ledbelly, that Cobain says his goodbye to the world, looking up at the audience with his bright blue eyes, us seeing his immense pain one more time, before he screamed out "My girl, my girl, tell me where did you sleep last night?" Watching and hearing this for the first time, I realized that I was seeing an important moment in rock history, and this hold true today, perhaps even moreso because of the way his life ended shortly thereafter.
"Unplugged in New York" is an absolute must for Nirvana fans, and even those who are not. This album shows a new side to the band, one that can be soft, as well as being hard as usual.
on January 22, 2004
Yes, I felt the emotional side of Kurt Cobain's creativity on their previous efforts. But this live recording struck me with its romantic, dark melancholy. Something that I wouldn't normally expect from the band that put out many rather aggressive songs with muddy sound. I felt amazed at the depth and variety of Kurt's talent, and at the sad beauty of the tracks here. Every track has a distinctive sound to it, be it a Nirvana's song or a cover song, which there are many on this album. For some unknown reason, that's the cover songs that I love best on this record. Not to say that Nirvana's material is in any sense inferior, but it definitely lacks melodism, present in such tracks as "Man Who SOld the World", "Lake of Fire" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night". The acoustic arrangements, with such instruments as cello and accordeon, only adds to this atmosphere.
Although I'm not a big fan of Nirvana, this is one of the best CDs in my vast collection, and I find myself listening to it regularly. Highly recommended purchase.
on January 7, 2004
This album is not what one would usually expect from Nirvana, there is no distortion, no screaming, and definetely NO electricity. The album is completely acoustic (even the bass, ooer) and it works fantastically. A good third of the songs are covers (Curt Kirkwood, David Bowie (on The Man Who Sold The World) and one previously covered by the Vaselines.) But they are still fantastic. The album opens with "About a Girl" and that is one of my favourite tracks. It then moves into "Come As You Are" "Jesus Don't Want Me For a Sunbeam" "Dumb" "pennyroyal Tea" and loads of others, one of the most notable being "All Apologies." The album also contains "Where Did You Sleep Lst Night", and toward the end of that,with one huge cry of "SHIIVERR!" (Which truly makes you do that) Kurt Cobain shows off his full vocal talents, and summed up (88,89,90, 91,92, 93, 94) six years of songwriting. Many people stop at In Utero, and call their Nirvana collection complete, but this is actually their last album, made in 1994. Buy it now.
on December 10, 2003
This album was all over the place, along with other Nirvana albums, after Kurt Cobain's death. It did not seem to stick around as long as their other albums did, and I have a hard time seeing just why.
Hearing Nirvana live is great, but hearing them unplugged is awesome. Surprisingly enough, Kurt sings hauntingly and almost melodically, and he seems close to vunerable. The band has been stripped down and laid bare, and they play well. This album is calming to listen to, and even some of the faster songs seem soothing with the aucoustic guitar.
The covers on this album are almost as good as the orginal Nirvana songs. They do three covers by the Meat Puppets (all off of their second album, which I purchased and enjoyed after having heard the covers), and the Vaselines' "Jesus Don't want me for a Sunbeam", they finish it off with "Where did you sleep Last Night?", but I think that my favorite track period off of this album is the cover of the David Bowie song "The Man Who sold the World."
Even if you are not a big Nirvana fan, this CD is great to listen to. I highly recommend it.
on December 4, 2003
Now i've heard many people talk sentimentally and "gushy" about Cobain. This probably would be their favorite album then. Nirvana's Unplugged in NY is a good cd. Good as in the arrangement is good (well, as good as the original, except for the covers, and the songs with a little bit extra countermelodies). I hate to say this, but i guess Cobain was the Lennon of the "X" generation. He brought a kind of edge that was thrilling (again, maybe not as good as Alice in Chain's edge, but then again, i regard them as heavy progressive rock). Unplugged is basically a live, "unplugged" acoustic version of their songs, and covers. It is a definite addition to any starter (or veteran) 90's music fan. Oh, and on a second note, This probably might have been the best live cd, except for a few minor problems, as is: tuning (i repect the "grunge, i-don't-care-about-my-tuning-because-i-am-a-rebel attitude, but this was folkier, not to critizize the guy though. And i thought the voice could use some smoothing out (yet again, he was going through the stomach pain and else.) All in all- a great cd, with songs that may make you think, and/or depressed.