During the 1990’s, MTV’s Unplugged was a right of passage for many artists. Unplugged launched a whole series of concerts, videos and albums, resurrecting careers and solidifying others. Artists performing the songs you love with an entirely new spin, and everyone got in on it too. From KISS to Clapton, MTV Unplugged was one of the biggest musical fads for a generation.

December marks the anniversary of one of the most influential Unplugged concerts of all time, “Nirvana MTV Unplugged In New York”.  While Nirvana disbanded after Kurt Cobain passing in April of 1994, MTV Unplugged would be the bands first posthumous release, hitting the shelves November 1st, 1994 (almost one year after it was recorded!). It featured acoustic tracks found on the bands first 4 albums, proving that behind the screams and distortion, Nirvana was a great band, plus some great covers which all still hold up perfectly to this day.

We went through all our favourite MTV Unplugged albums and picked our or 6 favourite tracks. Do they match yours?



Nirvana covered Bowie’s “Man Who Sold The World” during their Unplugged show. Kurt’s haunting vocals made this an instant Nirvana classic. Hey! Who’s that baby-faced kid on the drums?



This might be a case of the Unplugged version of a song becoming more popular and more recognizable than the original. Eric Clapton nails this stripped down version of Layla.



The Boss held an audience captive with songs and stories during his In Concert/Unplugged performance in 1993. We love the performance of “Human Touch” with his wife Patti Scialfa. There are so many highlights in this true to form Unplugged show.



YES Pearl Jam performed an Unplugged concert in 1992! Eddie Vedder owned the stage while the band showed off their musical prowess proving they were going to be one of the greatest bands on the planet for a long … long time to come. We can’t find a favourite on this album, so here is the whole show.

JACK FACT: This album wasn’t officially released until 2009 when it was a part of the band’s reissue for “Ten”. Enjoy, you’re welcome.



Bryan Adams performed an Unplugged show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC in August of 1997. All you need is Bryan, a guitar and a stage. He proves why he’s one of the greatest of all-time.



In 1995, KISS were doing a series of shows at KISS Konventions across North America. These were pop up acoustic shows where the band would regularly perform KISS Klassics (often on the fly). One of the first dates was in LA where the band brought up original drummer Peter Criss to sit in with the band for the first time since he left the band in 1980. The session was so much fun the MTV called KISS about doing an Unplugged show. The show featured the current 1995 line up of the band (Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Bruce Kulick & Eric Singer). The encore featured a surprise reunion of the original 4 members of the band (Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley & Peter Criss). For the last 2 songs of the show, they brought everyone out for a killer rendition of Rock ‘N’ Roll All Nite to close the show. This is the performance that led to the official reunion tour in 1996.


Honourable mentions have to include:

The Eagles “Hell Freezes Over” – even though it doesn’t carry the “Unplugged” name, The Eagles’ “Hell Freezes Over” album was produced by the Unplugged team and is considered a part of the series. This was the first album released after a 14 year break for the band. They sound in fine form!

The Cure Unplugged – Featured a great version of “Boys Don’t Cry”

Alanis Morisette Unplugged – She was already one of the biggest artists on the planet when she sat down and performed stripped down versions of her “Jagged Little Pill” songs on MTV Unplugged.

Neil Young Unplugged – It’s like his songs were written for an Unplugged album!


Could you imagine if Queen, David Bowie or Led Zeppelin ever did an Unplugged show? The magic is real! What are your favourite MTV Unplugged concerts? Tell us on Twitter @jack969van.

Filed under: Unplugged