Unplugged

Unplugged
Unplugged is a 1993 live album by Neil Young. It contains a previously unreleased song "Stringman", that dates from 1976. Taped on February 7, 1993, and first broadcast on MTV on March 10, Neil Young's Unplugged appearance was released as a home video to coincide with the release of an audio CD version. This 73-minute tape ran seven minutes longer than the album, the extra time consisting of applause, guitar tuning, and a few scattered asides ("Aw, it's nothin', really," Young said, for example, after an audience member called out, "Thank you, Neil"). A 14-song set that on paper seemed a random selection from across his career made more sense as a performance, as Young began with a series of early songs, accompanying himself on guitar and harmonica, then moving to keyboards and gradually bringing other musicians on-stage to augment the sound. The songs were wistful, midtempo reflections on stardom, love, and the passage of time. Some were familiar, including "Mr. Soul" and "Like a Hurricane," and were given new treatments; others were obscure or even previously unrecorded ("Stringman"). But all were melodic and inviting. Unplugged was a low-key Neil Young performance that emphasized the consistency of his work over time and the repetition of certain lyrical themes and musical tendencies. If it avoided some of his best-known folk and country material, it did contain a few crowd-pleasers, and it brought up several forgotten tunes for reconsideration.

The recording of this installment of the MTV series "Unplugged" was rife with tension, as Young was not happy with the performances of almost everyone in the band. In fact, the released version is actually the second attempt made at recording a set suitable for airing and release.

In addition to the tracks found on this album, Neil Young performed the following songs live during the performance:

"Dreamin' Man"
"Sample and Hold"
"War of Man"
"Winterlong"


Originally released in 1993 as recorded live for MTV. 14 tracks. Reprise.

Recorded at Universal Studios, Los Angeles, California on February 7, 1993.

Personnel: Neil Young (vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano, organ); Nils Lofgren (vocals, guitar, autoharp, accordion); Astrid Young, Nicolette Larson (vocals); Ben Keith (dobro); Spooner Oldham (piano, organ); Tim Drummond (bass guitar); Oscar Butterworth (drums); Larry Cragg (percussion).

Engineers: David Briggs, John Hanlon, John Nowland, John Hausmann.

Reviews:

Rolling Stone (8/19/93, p.76) - 3 Stars - Good - "...Young flashes both sides of his musical personality: the earnest folkie and the edgy heretic....the music has the relaxed aura of a friendly folkside folk sing..."
Entertainment Weekly (6/18/93, p.57) - "...while many of these songs sound like earlier versions, there are thrilling exceptions: 'Helpless' takes on a gospel longing, and 'Mr. Soul' becomes a despondent dirge..." - Rating: B
Q (1/94, p.83) - Included in Q's list of 'The 50 Best Albums Of 1993' - "...a spellbinding hour's music...."
Q (7/93, p.98) - 5 Stars - Indispensible - "...Just when Unplugged ought to be running out of steam, Neil Young has taken the measure of its possibilities, picked exactly the right balance of material and put one over on everybody who's been there before, including Clapton and Springsteen..."
Q (8/93, p.131) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...[a] willingness to re-mold songs by means of unusual instrumentation...marks out this show as probably the best in MTV's UNPLUGGED series..."
Mojo (Publisher) (11/01, p.151) - "...Young confidently recasts 'Transformer Man', 'Like a Hurricane' and other classics. The nearest thing to a career-spanning retrospective, and probably the best place for a novice to start."
NME (Magazine) (12/25/93, p.67) - Ranked #26 in New Musical Express' list of 'The Top 50 LPs Of 1993' - "...old faves and obscurities from as far back as '69, made quietly reflective with guitar, harmonium and Neil's prairie dog howl. A negative image of the stormy ARC WELD...." Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.

Scores

Look Out for My Love
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World on a String
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