The virtue of the "unplugged" concept pioneered by MTV was that it provided a forum for rock musicians to reinterpret their work without using rock's favorite instrument, the electric guitar. But by 1993, the unplugged sessions were serving as another way of creating product without coming up with anything really new, thus joining live albums, greatest-hits albums, and covers albums. Neil Young, who has always alternated between rock and folk approaches to his music anyway, would not seem like an ideal candidate for an "unplugged" session, but in a few of the 14 selections in this 65-and-a-half-minute recording, he did give his audience new ways to listen to his repertoire. Particularly notable were a pump-organ and harmonica arrangement of his guitar rock classic "Like a Hurricane" and an acoustic guitar rendition of his Buffalo Springfield hit "Mr. Soul." For the most part, however, Young's Unplugged was simply an acoustic live album drawn from a show that was part of his Harvest Moon promotional tour. Songs like "Pocahontas" and "The Needle and the Damage Done" had been in his acoustic set lists for years, played exactly as they were here. While Young ranged across his career, picking songs from as far back as 1967 and including three Harvest Moon songs, the set did not function as a live acoustic greatest-hits selection since favorites like "Heart of Gold" and "Old Man" were missing. The choices seemed nearly arbitrary: popular songs like "Helpless" (first heard on the 1970 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album Déjà Vu) shared space with relatively obscure album tracks like "World on a String" (from Tonight's the Night) and the never before released 20-year-old song "Stringman." It may be that a random selection of 14 Neil Young songs gives as accurate a representation of his work as a more carefully compiled one would, but it does not show Young off at his best. Unplugged is an enjoyable record that with greater care in arrangement, performance, and song selection could have been considerably better.
|Label:||Reprise / Wea|
Performance CreditsNeil Young Primary Artist,Organ,Guitar,Harmonica,Piano,Vocals
Nils Lofgren Guitar,Accordion,Autoharp,Vocals
Nicolette Larson Vocals
Ben Keith Dobro
Oscar Butterworth Drums
Larry Cragg Percussion
Tim Drummond Bass Guitar
Spooner Oldham Organ,Piano
Astrid Young Vocals
Technical CreditsDavid Briggs Producer
Nicolette Larson Contributor
Larry Cragg Contributor
John Hanlon Engineer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Unplugged based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Perhaps there are acoustic concerts in Neil Young's massive archives that top this, but I doubt it. Even though it is unplugged, the varying arrangements, part solo and part small band, keep the music from growing one dimensional. The pump organ version of Like A Hurricane is quite unusual and changes the song from guitar epic to something else entirely. As it stands now, I would include this CD in my top five NY albums.I remember reading that Young gave some great unplugged concerts in NY in 1978 featuring a lot of then unreleased material. Hopefully he will see fit to add a set of some of them to his archives releases.
At age 69, the man brings tears to my eyes and glimpses into my soul every time I listen, and he's been doing it for decades.
Contrary to the formal review, I think the song selection and performance was top notch! I love this album, it has been one of my favorites for years, and I am sure the listening value will stay strong. A definate must listen!!!!