Classic Rock News

The “Unplugged” trend was all the rage in the ‘90s thanks to MTV Unplugged, which featured some of music’s biggest names going acoustic.

In fact, MTV Unplugged performances were often released as albums and sold millions of copies. The most notable among the bunch was Eric Clapton’s Unplugged album, which was released on August 25, 1992.

To celebrate the anniversary of Clapton’s Unplugged, here’s our list of 10 unplugged albums everyone should own. 

  • Eric Clapton - ‘Unplugged’ (1992)

    Clapton’s Unplugged was a massive commercial and critical success. The LP won three Grammy Awards in 1993: Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, Best Rock Song for the acoustic version of “Layla and Album of the Year. Clapton’s Unplugged has sold a whopping 26 million copies worldwide. Of course, we’d be remiss in not mentioning the Unplugged version of “Tears in Heaven,” which remains devastatingly moving to this day.

     

  • Nirvana - ‘MTV Unplugged in New York’ (1994)

    Recorded just five months before the untimely passing of Kurt Cobain, Nirvana’s performance would later be released as the live LP MTV Unplugged in New York.  It was Nirvana’s first release following Cobain’s death, and it would go on to win the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.

  • Rod Stewart - ‘Unplugged...and Seated’ (1993)

    Stewart’s appearance on MTV Unplugged also featured former Faces bandmate Ronnie Wood and marked the first time in about two decades they shared the stage together. The album features unplugged versions of some of Stewart’s biggest hits, including “Hot Legs” and “Maggie May.” The LP also features moving covers of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” and Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately.”

     

  • Page and Plant - ‘No Quarter: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded’ (1994)

    No Quarter was a 90-minute special for MTV featuring a reunited Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. While there were some electric elements, this performance also received some extra oomph thanks to string and orchestra musicians local to Morocco, Wales and London where the special had been recorded. A number of Led Zeppelin tunes made up the tracklisting including “Kashmir,” “The Battle of Evermore” and “That’s The Way.” 

     

  • Alice In Chains - ‘MTV Unplugged’ (1996)

    Equal parts extraordinary and bitter-sweet, AIC’s 1996 performance on MTV Unplugged was the band’s first performance together in over two years due to Layne Staley’s issues with drug abuse.  It would also be one of the band’s last high-profile gigs with Staley. In spite of that and Jerry Cantrell famously battling food poisoning, AIC’s set served as a reminder of why they were the first band to really break out of the fruitful Seattle music scene. https://youtu.be/nWK0kqjPSVI/

  • Pearl Jam - ‘MTV Unplugged’ (2020)

    Pearl Jam simply crushes it in this set from March 1992, about seven months after the release of Pearl Jam’s debut album Ten. The band’s Unplugged set would finally get an official release as part of Record Store Day in 2019.

     

  • KISS - ‘KISS Unplugged’ (1996)

    KISS’ 1995 appearance on Unplugged featured the four original band members on stage together for the first time since the late ’70s. It was so popular that it led to KISS’ famed 1996 reunion tour.

  • Bob Dylan - ‘MTV Unplugged’ (1995)

    The iconic singer-songwriter recorded his performance for MTV Unplugged in November 1994. The album release of the performance came out in May 1995 and featured some of Dylan’s biggest songs including “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

  • Neil Young - ‘Unplugged’ (1993)

    Recorded in February 1993 and released just four months later, Young’s Unplugged set also featured some of his most classic tunes including “Harvest Moon” and “The Needle and the Damage Done.”

  • Paul McCartney - ‘Unplugged (The Official Bootleg)’ (1991)

    Fun fact about Sir Paul’s appearance on Unplugged: It was completely unplugged.  Most other performances featured artists playing acoustically with the help of amps. It was also one of the first performances in the show’s history.