The following are the top five episodes of the once great, and now either totally forgotten or totally raped, depending on your point of view, MTV Unplugged. Remember, this is only my opinion, but usually my opinion runs side by side with total accuracy!
5. The Eagles, 1994 While their “unplugged” session they recorded for MTV was released on CD as “Hell Freezes Over,” and it contained four new studio tracks, it is still considered part of the “Unplugged” canon. It was the beginning of the Eagles reunion after a fourteen year time period apart. It was greatly successful, going nine times platinum in the United States, and it was followed by one of the most successful tours of all time. It contained performances of such Eagles staples as “Hotel California,” “Tequila Sunrise,” Take It Easy,” “Life In The Fast Lane,” and “Desperado.”
4. Pearl Jam, 1992 Some marketing wizard decided NOT to release this on CD back in 1992, when Pearl Jam was at the beginning of their most commercial success. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to be on this list though. Not only were their highlight performances of such early PJ greats as “Oceans,” “Jeremy,” “Black,” Alive,” “Even Flow,” and a cover of one of their favorite artists, Neil Young, and his song, “Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World.” It also included on the first of many public statements of activism by lead singer Eddie Vedder, who wrote PRO-CHOICE down his arm in permanent marker.
3. NIrvana, 1993 This was one of Nirvana’s last televised performances, and it was also aired just five months before Kurt Cobain’s untimely death. Released as “Unplugged In New York,” it won the Grammy award for “Best Alternative Music Album,” in 1996. Unlike most other Unplugged performances, this contained quite a few cover songs, and really only featured two well-known Nirvana hits. The highlights included one of their early songs, “About A Girl,” a cover of David Bowie’s song, “The Man Who Sold The World,” an impassioned performance of “Something In The Way,” and their newest single at the time, “All Apologies.”
2. Alice In Chains, 1996 Amongst all of the prevalent rumors of drug addiction and abuse, Layne Staley performed for the first time in three long years in 1996. His appearance was frail and concerning, his arms and fingers covered, and rumored to be hiding track marks. But that didn’t stop him from belting out the AIC tunes with as much passion as ever. The song featured some of their most popular songs, including “Heaven Beside You,” “Would?,” and “Rooster,” as well as debuting a new song, “The Killer Is Me.” There was also a joke directed at the in attendance and freshly coifed Metallica, with “Friends Don’t Let Friends Get Haircuts” written on Mike Inez’s bass.
1. Eric Clapton, 1992 “Clapton Is God” graffiti had appeared all over England and all over the music listening world since the mid-1960s, and had a resurgence in 1992, due to this performance. It earned Clapton an astounding six Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Best Rock Male Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song. It is certified as “Diamond” for shipping over ten million units in the United States. It included several old blues covers, as well as versions of some of his most popular songs, including Cream’s “Layla,” and “Tears In Heaven.” It added a new chapter to the guitar legend’s career, and IMO, it ranks as the top “Unplugged” performance of all time.