As MTV Unplugged turned 30 last year in November, we have put together our favorite performances throughout its thirty years. But before we begin, let’s take a look on the little bit of history.
A long time ago, before MTV started to air a bunch of crappy reality shows, network producers came up with a new concept of live performances. They got inspired by a BON JOVI‘s acoustic performance at the 1989 Video Music Awards. They invited a bunch of world’s top music talents to New York for a series of stripped-down intimate live sessions in front of a studio audience seated just a few inches away in front of them.
MTV Unplugged first aired on November 26, 1989, with British rockers SQUEEZE, songwriter SYD STRAW and CARS guitarist ELLIOT EASTON each playing sets. The session got immediate success and quickly become an effective promotional tool for artists with new albums hitting the record shops. Over the years, the series brought us some of the most interesting and unexpected collaborations and spawned best-selling CDs that end up on the top of the Billboard’s chart.
Three decades later, MTV Unplugged is still around and the same popular as in its beginnings. Today, we look at our top 10 MTV Unplugged sessions throughout its history.
10. LIAM GALLAGHER (2019)
10-track performance took place at Hull City Hall and it features Oasis classics alongside solo cuts. For the performance, Gallagher was backed by the 24-piece Urban Soul Orchestra and for the Oasis tracks, he was joined by the band’s rhythm guitarist Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs.
9. KORN (2006)
The performance took place in MTV studios in Times Square, New York City on December 9, 2006, in front of a crowd of approximately fifty people. This was the band’s first and only live album to be recorded as a three-piece band since their original drummer David Silveria departed the group in the same month.
8. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE (2005)
Queens Of The Stone Age participated in their first Unplugged special in Berlin n June 2005 and performed a number of tracks from their album Lullabies to Paralyze.
7. PAGE AND PLANT (1994)
MTV producers pull off something that countless festival organizers could not, to get Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and play music on the same stage. 90 minutes set was captured during the three days session in 1994.
6. BIFFY CLYRO (2018)
BIFFY CLYRO performed a one-off acoustic show on 8th November 2017 at the Roundhouse in London. The band was inspired by Nirvana’s 1993 performance for the show, which they reportedly rehearsed during their formative years.
5. STONE TEMPLE PILOTS (1993)
Stone Temple Pilots from San Diego agreed to an Unplugged set a year after their debut CORE. Punctuated by Scott Weiland’s unmistakable pipes, the band’s legendary appearance on MTV’s hit show would also introduce the world to one of their biggest hits: It was the first time Stone Temple Pilots played “Big Empty” outside of their practice space or a recording studio.
4. OASIS (1996)
Oasis were due to tape the show at the Royal Festival Hall on August 23, 1996, when lead singer Liam Gallagher pulled out at the last minute, citing a sore throat. The band performed despite this, with songwriter and guitarist Noel Gallagher handling the vocals, earning much critical praise. Liam watched the performance and heckled the group from a balcony. The performance has never been officially released.
3. PEARL JAM (1992)
Intense, exhilarating and intimate Pearl Jam’s Unplugged set was recorded in a small studio in Queens in front of fewer than 50 fans. Besides the song from their debut album TEN, they also covered a Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World”.
2. ALICE IN CHAINS (1996)
Alice in Chains Unplugged set is one of the band’s last concert with a singer Layne Staley, who died of cocaine and heroin overdose in April 2002. It was also bands first live performance in three years.
1. NIRVANA (1993)
Nirvana’s Unplugged set become the legendary session, even though the band played mainly lesser-known materials and covers of the songs by the Vaselines, David Bowie, Led Belly, and Meat Puppets (whose members Cris and Curt Kirkwood joined Nirvana onstage). This unplugged session brought the band and Kurt Cobain a posthumous Grammy Award.
Sources: spin.com, wikipedia