ALBUM REVIEW | By Elizabeth Boyle-Reeves
On November 18, 1993, one of the greatest MTV Unplugged albums of all time was recorded for the network's acoustic series. Nirvana's Unplugged in New York episode was also the band's first album released after the death of their lead singer Kurt Cobain.
The album features the whole set list, plus the band members engaging with the audience and the applause and cheers from the crowd. This gives the listener the experience of being there in person and feeling everything Nirvana throws out.
Each of the songs was chosen carefully by the band members. Hesitant to put on a show the same as all the others, the band mostly played lesser known material and shied away from famous songs. The only really popular and mainstream Nirvana song on the album is “Come as You Are”.
Six of the fourteen-song set list are covers, including songs by David Bowie and The Vaselines, the best-known being Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World”. Nirvana was also joined onstage by two members of Lead Belly and the Meat Puppets who were touring with the band at the time of recording.
Despite the show being acoustic, Kurt Cobain insisted on playing his acoustic guitar through an amp with his effects pedal. The crew had to disguise the amp on stage, although it became apparent during the performance of “The Man Who Sold the World” as Kurt’s guitar was obviously distorted. What is really impressive about the recording, though, is that the band produced the entire performance in one go, despite the many problems that arose during the two days of rehearsals prior.
After Cobain’s death in 1994, MTV aired the Nirvana episode repeatedly, using the tragedy for their own monetary gain but also skyrocketing the fame of this rock trio. Each member of Nirvana is extremely talented. It’s a tragedy to have lost Kurt so young and so soon after the band’s amazing performances in New York.