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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 20 January 2001
Applause. Kurt's voice. More applause. This, my friends is the start to the wonderful Nirvana's swan-song and what a start it is. About A Girl is not the high-point of the album but certainly a song liberated from the raw surroundings of its original recording. Come As You Are is very, very different to the confident, up for it version on Nevermind and is less a statement of intent but more a sorrowful lament to a past dream. "And I swear that I don't have a gun, no I don't have a gun" is one of the most haunting moments of music I've EVER heard and sends a shiver down your spine. Then a shaft of light after the introspection of the previous track, as the cheerful Jesus Doesn't Want For A Sunbeam makes you smile as you think of the bass-beserker Krist on accordion. The cover of Bowie's The Man Who Sold The World is also brilliant but not as ultimately moving as the others. Pennyroyal Tea is. Kurt is on his own and singing, no howling, as if his life depended on it. His cigarette-drenched vocals transport you to somewhere you never thought Nirvana could take you. The brilliant, bass-heavy Dumb picks you up and then puts you down all in the space of two and a half minutes and is yet another testament to the genius that is Kurt Cobain. Polly is not quite as good as the album version as it doesn't have quite the same metamorphosis as it's neighbours and just seems thinner. But they don't let you hang for long as they pick it up again with the suberb On A Plain which is BETTER than the album version. Again one line burrows into your mind and turns it inside-out. "I love myself better than you" uses the acoustics of the auditorium to perfection and haunts you. Something In The Way suffers from the same problems as Polly but it's likeable enough. Enter The Meat Puppets! Kurt takes a break from guitar duties and just concentrates on belting out the vocals and leaves the Kirkwood brothers to be musical maestros on the equally fantastic Plateau, Oh Me and Lake Of Fire. Exit The Meat Puppets! Then came All Apologies which isn't as lush as the studio version but just as good only in a different way. The mantra "All in all is all we are" repeated over and over makes you thoughtful but optimistic. Another thing I can never quite understand about people's preconceptions of Nirvana. They are not depressing!! No song to me sounds like it's dwelling on it's angst, but it's an exorcism, wanting to change things and make the world better. But, back to the subject, there was just one song left, the Leadbelly cover of Where Did You Sleep Last Night. Nothing special - until the end. It ambles along nicely but then transforms as Kurt takes the howls of earlier track to the next stage and screams out the last lines. Believe me, it blows you away with it's unstoppable passion and leaves you astounded. Applause, the band's voices and the end to another defining Nirvana album.
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VINE VOICEon 25 January 2005
this record probably marked one of the finest moments in the history of mtv to date. nirvana had re-written the rules of popular music with the extraordinary popularity of nevermind in 1991 and had somehow captured everything that it meant to be a teenager in a bizarre post-80's world and put it down on one disc. nevermind was the antithesis of all that had emobodied the 80's, things like wall street or soulless synth-pop and nirvana were running the risk of being pigeon-holed as nothing more than a cultural phenomenon stuck in their time.
sitting down on the sofa with a hangover and flicking through the channels to find the live recording of this set just beginning came like a revelation against that background. where there had only been rage and passion before, now there seemed to be compassion and a calmer, purer music. i get shivers even now thinking about what might have been had these guys been around for a few more years. the range made nirvana complete and the vision of kurt as this vulnerable, lost looking guy with these baleful eyes and pleading tone in his voice will forever define him to his fans.
grunge was always about embracing the imperfections in sound and enjoying whatever happened on the day with live performances. peculiarly it is the covers that stand out because here without rehearsal is our only evidence of how nirvana might otherwise have sounded on future live sets. it is unembellished and glorious for it.
the versions of bowie's man who sold the world and the meat puppets' plateau and lake of fire were so good that they must have sold records for the respective artists. and come the rendition of ledbelly's where did you sleep last night you can almost feel kurt's pain.
is this the masterpiece? does it matter..?
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on 10 December 2003
Just prior to the release of "In Utero", Cobain was asked wether the new record would be hard and loud or quiet and acoustic. Cobain classically replied "Extremes of both". It was, but if "In Utero" learned more to the former, "Unplugged" definitely leans more to the latter.
Thankfully, the band chose the songs that would actually work acoustically as oppossed to their biggest hits that the casual MTV audience would recognize. Personally, I woul have loved to have heard an acoustic version of "Lithium", but they were right in not doing "Teen Spirit". As a record, it holds together very well, containing songs from their three main albums and an array of delightful and varied covers. Amazingly the covers sit perfectly side by side with the bands own compositions, "Come As You Are" being followed by an amazing cover of the Vaselines "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam".
The other covers are just as great, David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold The World", three Meat Puppets songs and an amazing, emotional cover of Leadbelly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night". The bands own songs lose nothing in transition, "On A Plain" being amazing as is "All Apologies" and "Polly". Also, you can listen to the original version afterwards and not feel anything less, the acoustics dont ruin the songs.
With Nirvana, there was always an acoustic element in their music and that is what really helps carry it across. If Slayer did this it wouldnt work, but Nirvana always had this in them. Whether you are a Nirvana fan or just a fan of acoustic music, this is truly essential.
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on 20 September 2012
How can you make Nirvana sound even more bleak, dark and sarcastic? Well unplug them apparently. It really does work, the songs take on a fragile, delicate, made of glass type feel which actually gives them even more power, there are occasions where it doesn't quite work, with certain songs getting a bit too laid back and occasionally threaten to put you to sleep, it doesn't happen enough to ruin the album but it is just enough to mean that this shouldn't be your first port of call for a Nirvana album, although it is a nice addition to a collection.

When it does work the songs can really benefit taking on a whole new depth and level of emotional clout; demonstrated best with `On a Plain' and the heartbreaking `Something in the Way'. The gentle voices between some of the tracks subtly adds a strange feel to the album, the overly hushed voices of the band, who seem to sound out of their depth, or at least seem to give that impression, its like the whole album takes on a voyeuristic undertone. The polite clapping is also oddly disconcerting for some reason that I can't quite put my finger on.

Obviously the songs in their original form are where you want to go to first, but it is always nice to see a bit of experimentation especially when done well, like this.
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on 1 November 2002
I saw the performance on television back in 1994 and was amazed. Being heavily into dance music at the time I rarely heard indie, rock or grunge because it just wasn't being played in the places I frequented. However, I had heard of the band and the song 'Smells like teen spirit' although I didn't know they were connected.
Now I've always considered myself a singles buyer rather than an album buyer, because in my opinion, especially when it comes to dance artists, most bands tend to have one or two good songs on an album and the rest are just 'fillers'. I also never liked live albums as I thought them to be of poor quality and a waste of money. Despite my 'logic' I ventured into the unknown and bought this CD on the day of its release.
This is the only CD I can bear to listen to from beginning to end. It's a fantastic live recording and having since heard their other albums the 'live' are far superior, far outweighing the polished 'thrashy' studio versions.
It's a great chill-out album and should appeal to many.
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on 14 March 2004
This is a performance that really makes you realise why nirvana were the biggest band of the nineties. This is acoustic at its best and with the mindblowing voice of cobain makes the 28th november 1993 a night that will live in the heart of every angst-ridden teenager forever.
About a girl. nirvana open with about a girl,a song that kurt writ for his old girlfreind tracy marander. This was one of nirvana's first hits.
Come as you are. The opening note of come as you are captures the crowd and kurt rips into the opening lines of one of their trademark songs.
Jesus dont want me for a sunbeam. This song was originally by the vaselines,one of kurts favourite groups and it sends an uplifting vibe through the crowd.
The man who sold the world. This was one of the best songs of the night. Originally a David Bowie cover nirvana make it sound 100 times more special.
Pennyroyal tea. This song was performed by kurt one his own and captivated the crowd with the intensity he put into the song.
Dumb. This track was taken from the in utero album. It was one of nirvana's darker songs but still showed the poetic side of cobain.
Polly. Polly got the crowd going, this was also a very popular song from nevermind but the message behind the sond wasnt so comferting. It told the story of a young girl being abducted, tortured and raped.
On a plain. Again this was a popular song from nevermind and had a positive melody to it which filled the room.
Something in the way. This song was written to show how cobain spent some time living under a bridge as a tenn after his mother had kicked him out.
Plateau. Plateau saw the introduction of Chris and Kurt Kirkwood. These brothers were the leading members in the meat puppets,a popular band in the seatle scene before nirvana had come around.
Oh me. This was a meat puppets cover that cobain handled excelently, the lyrics were similar to that of nirvana's.
Lake of fire. This song made kurt struggle vocaly but made the track sound all the more better for it.
All apoligies. This is the most well known acoustic song of nirvana's. The lyrics are genius and epitimise the word 'poet'.
Where did you sleep last night. This song was originally by a folk musician called leadbelly. This song in my view was the highlight of the night and saw the whole band put in 110%. The raw emotion of cobains voice captivates the whole crowd and anyone who has ever seen the footage. While listening to this song you find yourself getting goosebumps on the back of your neck because it is one of those perfect musical moments that only a handfull of bands have and will ever have the ability to posses.
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on 19 March 2002
I'm sure every die-hard Nirvana fan will already have this CD and therefore won't need persuading BUT if your not really into grunge, just looking for one the most beautifully crafted musical compliations ever recorded - this is for you! By this stage in the band's turbulent career, the focus seemed to be not on teenage angst and pain but how to make good music. This album is garanteed to give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside!
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on 26 April 2003
This album shows Cobain in one of his rawest and most powerful peformances, in which he stripped away the distortion and gave us pure sound. The quality of the album is superb, from the mellow tone of jesus doesn't want me for a sunbeam, to the anguished screams at the end of where did you sleep last night. Every track is outstanding for different reasons. Pennyroyal tea is a Cobain solo track which is quite honestly breathtaking. The Nevermind and other In Utero tracks sound as good, if not better than on the respective albums. About a Girl shows the early Nirvana to be quite as good as late and The Meat Puppet songs are a good listen, especially Cobain's attempt at falsetto in Lake of Fire. I can quite honestly say that there is not a bad track on the album, it is one of the few that is outstanding all the way through. Also in this album Nirvana managed to make at least one cover song sound better than the original, man who sold the world by David Bowie. The commentry between the songs adds to the album in a positive way. Out of ten I would give this album 11, if you are even considering buying this I would say definatly do, you wont regret it.
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on 16 July 2015
I adore this album so much. I think this easily the best unplugged I have ever heard!!!! So amazing. I listened to this before buying the DVD but both go so well I thought seeing them would ruin it but it just enhances it!

Brilliant I highly recommend!
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on 17 January 2015
Unplugged takes a bit of getting used to as the full recording studio production is not there. Good songs well done but as I am not a true Nirvana fan because the band slipped through my musical radar it will take a few more listens to upgrade my review. But a friend of mine is a true Nirvana fan and rates this highly as this is the music of his era.
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