It seems as though this was released in memory of Kurt Cobain. Nirvana agreed to do this live performance without their typical Grungy electric guitars, and were rightly applauded for doing so. It was recorded a mere few months before Kurt Cobain’s suicide, and it is actually a great performance, incorporating originals and some covers. Let’s take a listen, and see why.
First off is About A Girl which is a great tune and a wonderful listen at hand. It is a great rendition of the original, which was much rawer. Kurt Cobain sings deeply and melodically, showcasing that Nirvana had talent and that this rendition of songs was really great. A great acoustic number, and showcasing a different side of Nirvana, an excellent listen.
Next is Come As You Are which is a different sounding acoustic guitar rendition and with Kurt Cobain singing very deeply. The original was also great, but this number seems to be a lot more soft with the acoustic guitars and intense as a result. It really is a great rendition of the original, and sounds beautifully melodic. There is a great acoustic guitar solo replacing the electric guitar solo here. A great and moving piece, this is so good to listen to. Great effort.
Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam is a rendition of a Vaselines piece, itself an old Christian song. It’s a great piece, seemingly fitting for the circumstances and especially in retrospect. Kurt Cobain’s problems are now well documented, and this seems like an honest statement from him and Nirvana. It features what sounds like accordion, which is an interesting twist. The midsection goes subtle to let Kurt Cobain’s singing shine through. All in all, a great performance. A must listen. It finishes nicely.
The Man Who Sold The World a David Bowie cover, is introduced, with Kurt Cobain advising the audience he will likely screw it up and you’ll find out if he does or not. It is a brilliant cover, made more deep and meaningful than what you’d expect. A great cover, and showcasing the wide musical tastes of the band themselves. Kurt sings deeply, and comes across as though he is personifying every lyric and melody as his own. Great stuff, and good to hear, the guitar solo is terrific here. Good job Nirvana.
Next is Pennyroyal Tea from In Utero, which is a nice piece to hear in this setting. It is a solo Kurt Cobain performance with just him and acoustic guitar here. A great rendition of the original, showcasing a very pure and amazing performance by Kurt Cobain. It slows right down in the middle as a surprise to the listener, before going straight back into the regular pace and setting of the song. Great stuff.
Following is Dumb which is a good performance with the band rejoining again. It sounds more powerful than the original, and has a better feel to it with a cello to go with it. This is a great example from this album of how songs here can be bettered in a live setting. Great stuff.
Polly comes next, and is a great rendition of the original. It is a great and catchy piece that sounds quite different from the original, especially with the musical setting. Just as good as the Nevermind version, this is brilliant and great to hear. A good song that is well thought out here, a classic take on a classic song itself. Nice to hear.
On A Plain is a great take on another earlier Nirvana song. It sounds a lot less harsh and more deep musically, just sounding excellent. This is where the MTV Unplugged series worked best, taking an original artist to do their thing, and in some ways doing better than on a typical recording setting. Great stuff, and a great rendition and song as well. Catchy and well delivered, this is a strong reason for listening to these songs. Awesome stuff.
Next is Something In The Way which is another Nirvana original which sounds surprisingly direct and more personified than the original here. Sounding a lot darker as a result, this is a mindblowing piece that sounds really close to the bone here. A sad and rather personal sounding piece, it is a great thing to hear today. A deep listen from Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, brilliant.
Following is Plateau which is a Meat Puppets cover. It is a fresh and quite rhythmically good piece for an acoustic number. It is a great example of a decent cover by a band like Nirvana, and shows the rich and deep influence that the band took on board. Indeed, Nirvana changed how music was listened to, and this is a fine example of that. The outro has some good harmonies, nice effort.
Oh, Me is another Meat Puppets number that is a great cover here. It is an awesomely delivered piece that sounds effortless and timeless. This is where the whole thing of covers on MTV Unplugged really shines. It is a lighter sounding tune covered by Nirvana and friends, and this is a bright light in the musical darkness of Nirvana. Great stuff. Good to hear.
Lake Of Fire is the last cover with the Meat Puppets and begins with a catchy riff. It is a top effort, and Kurt Cobain’s singing in particular is really quite good here. It has a Christian overtone about it in its lyrics, and sounds really amazing and top today. The bluesy guitar playing here is totally unlike a lot of Nirvana, but sounds really good regardless. Great effort.
The last Nirvana penned song on this album is All Apologies and sounds a lot rawer and direct, especially in retrospect. This is one of the last ever performances by the group, and is fairly reflective in retrospect. It is another great rendition of an original, and shines brightly here, in amongst the musical darkness. The outro is very suspenseful. Great rendition, once again.
Last here is the Lead Belly cover Where Did You Sleep Last Night? which is a take on a traditional blues song, but made deeply personal and done so well by Kurt. If you break down in tears, don’t be surprised. It’s deeply emotional and wonderful as a result. A great piece and thoroughly enjoyable. Top effort. Kurt really puts in a great performance towards the end, legendary.
This is an album where MTV and Nirvana got it right. Nirvana and in particular Kurt Cobain put in a wonderful and memorable performance here that is timeless. A great listening experience, especially for Nirvana and acoustic fans. Great to hear, and deeply disturbing to hear this as one of the last performances before Kurt Cobain’s tragic suicide.
Deep and meaningful.