Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Golden Age of MTV Unplugged

Last september I saw PJ20, Cameron Crowe's rockumentary celebrating the 20th anniversary of Pearl Jam. As a fan of the Seattle band, I loved it. The movie features many musical moments of the PJ's career: some obscure, some quite famous. One of the latter is Black, performed live at MTV Unplugged in 1992. If you were a teenager or a twentysomething in the Nineties, you probably remember this iconic tv series. It was a kind of mainstream magic, especially in the first years, when many great rock bands and artists played some incredible, emotional, stripped, nude versions of their most famous songs. I think we can say that MTV almost invented the word "unplugged": at least, it brought it from the underground to the masses, to the global rock vocabulary.

Some of those shows became great live albums, too. Eric Clapton's one. Neil Young's. The Nirvana masterpiece. Too many performances (R.E.M., Paul McCartney, Elton John, Black Crowes, Aerosmith, Paul Simon, to name a few) still lay hidden on MTV and record labels shelves, and God bless YouTube for bringing them back to Internet light. Anyway, I spent some time wandering in the Spotify archive and I found a good amount of the shows that got the chance to become an official record. I put them in these playlists. First one is a kind of personal greatest hits. Since I got the idea after watching PJ20, I gave it a 20-song shape. One each artist, about 90 minutes, including Tears in Heaven and Because the NightBlack and Harvest MoonThe Man Who Sold the World and No Excuses, the Boss playing unfair (unplugged) and Robert Plant and Jimmy Page reuniting, Alanis and Bjork, even a radioheadesque incarnation of Korn. And Mariah and Brian Adams, too, who were part of that era and of that televised sound.

Second and third playlists are more comprehensive and feature all the MTV Unplugged stuff I found on Spotify, from 1990 to yesterday: mammoth version (with full albums) and lite (three songs each album, to get a taste of...). With a bit of nostalgia, enjoy!

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Source: Wikipedia


1. Eric Clapton – Tears In Heaven
2. Neil Young – Harvest Moon
3. Nirvana – The Man Who Sold The World
4. Pearl Jam – Black
5. Alice In Chains – No Excuses
6. Queensrÿche – Silent Lucidity
7. Poison – Every Rose Has It's Thorn
8. Mariah Carey – I'll Be There
9. Alicia Keys – Fallin'
10. Jimmy Page & Robert Plant – Gallows Pole
11. Rod Stewart – Maggie May
12. Bryan Adams – Summer Of '69
13. Korn – Creep
14. Björk – Venus As A Boy
15. Alanis Morissette – You Learn
16. Julieta Venegas – Me Voy
17. Herbert Grönemeyer – Männer
18. Lauryn Hill – Mr. Intentional
19. Bruce Springsteen – I Wish I Were Blind
20. 10,000 Maniacs – Because The Night

Listen to it on Spotify: HTTP, URI. (SR0738)


1990: Poison (just four songs)
1992: Eric Clapton, Mariah Carey, Pearl Jam (just Black), Queensrÿche (just three songs), Bruce Springsteen, Arrested Development
1993: Neil Young, Rod Stewart, 10,000 Maniacs, Midnight Oil (just three songs), Nirvana
1994: Tony Bennett, Björk, Jimmy Page & Robert Plant
1995: Charly García, Herbert Grönemeyer, Café Tacvba, Kiss
1996: Illya Kuryaki And The Valderramas, Alice In Chains, Soda Stereo
1997: Maxwell, Babyface, Bryan Adams
1999: Maná, Alanis Morissette, Shakira
2000: Die Fantastischen Vier
2001: Jay-Z, La Ley, Alejandro Sanz
2002: Lauryn Hill
2005: Alicia Keys
2006: Ricky Martin, Korn
2007: Alex Britti
2008: Julieta Venegas
2009: All Time Low
2010: Trey Songz, Panda
2011: Zoe

Listen to it on Spotify:
Mammoth (full albums): HTTP, URI. (SR0739)
Lite (3 songs each album): HTTP, URI (SR0740)

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