Experimenting with sound is arguably a key motive for most musicians, but who would have ever thought Nirvana would sound superior when unplugged?
I'm serious, and I know many fans will be offended but, Nirvana was far better suited to soft/folk rock than they ever were alternative rock. I'm not trying to suggest they weren't an exceptional rock band as I truly love all their recordings, but there is something magical about their MTV Unplugged In New York performance. Perhaps this realisation came about as I was writing a review of In Utero and a headache began to form. I needed something that was a little less skull crashing. As much as I love headbanging, the poor ageing peanut, up top, rattles around a little more than it used to. Hence, an unplugged performance, ballad, or concert with a Symphony Orchestra (think Metallica’s S&M) is the perfect compromise. That said, there is no compromise here as Nirvana's musicality is off-the-charts and the entire recording represents some of the most beautiful music ever recorded.
The only dislike I have for this album is the conversation pieces between songs. It isn't excessive, nor is it irrelevant, but the volume level is so low that the context isn't easily discernible when listening via speakers. This is less of a problem when using headphones, but the vocal speech is still too low and I feel it should have been edited from the album format.
About A Girl is a killer song when performed acoustically. It reminds me of The Beatles from an instrumental and vocal composition standpoint. However, more importantly, Cobain's vocal delivery leaves me speechless. What an incredible talent!
Come As You Are is a mellow wonderland and while I adore the original studio recording, this live performance takes the song to another level.
Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam was an interesting cover song to select as, by this stage, Nirvana had their own extensive catalogue of music to select from. That said, it suits the performance and is a valued addition to their repertoire. It is also significantly better than The Vaselines’ edition.
The Man Who Sold The World is glorious!
Pennyroyal Tea really showcases Cobain's control over his vocal as he takes it right to the edge. Overall, the composition is basic, but it is an exceptional live performance. The audience was, indeed, very fortunate to witness this event.
Dumb has all the groove and rhythm of the original, yet the musicality of this performance takes the song to heavenly heights. I absolutely love the inclusion of the double bass as it is perfectly played and really fits well with the overall tone of the song.
Polly is a fantastic song and is perfectly suited to the unplugged nature of the recording. Songs such as this remind me just how fortunate we are to have Nirvana's music.
On A Plain is awesome! I could say more, but I'm too busy enjoying the song.
Something In The Way is one of the most beautiful Nirvana songs ever recorded. While nothing could ever beat the original studio recording, this alternate live recording is excellent and brings a smile to my face every time I hear it.
Plateau is musical perfection! I absolutely love the instrumentation and Cobain's vocal reminds me of Neil Young. I love it!
Oh Me is the first song that doesn't grab me. There is nothing wrong with it per se, I just feel it doesn't fit with the overall performance.
Lake Of Fire is a killer song and is one of the best songs Nirvana ever recorded.
All Apologies is an excellent groove-filled song. However, I prefer the studio recording as I feel this live version lacks soul when compared to the original.
Where Did You Sleep Last Night is a fantastic song to conclude the album on. It certainly encourages me to listen again and stay within Nirvana's catalogue.
Nirvana's MTV Unplugged In New York isn't just an exceptional live album, it is the quintessential Nirvana album.
For this review, I listened to the TIDAL Hi-Fi edition of the album and found the mastering to be the definition of perfection. It is so good that I need not concern myself with tracking down a physical release of the album. That said, this is one record that would be a welcome addition to my vinyl collection.