10 of the Top Unplugged Albums

The “Unplugged” trend was all the rage in the ‘90s thanks to MTV Unplugged, which featured some of music’s biggest names going acoustic. The series aired on a regular basis from 1989-1999 and was revived in a less frequent format from 2000-2009 as MTV Unplugged No. 2.0. Since then, there have only been limited Unplugged specials. The very first episode featured Squeeze, Syd Straw, and Elliot Easton, and in the years that followed, some of the biggest names in music took to the Unplugged stage, including Aerosmith, Elton John, Paul McCartney, R.E.M., Eric Clapton, Nirvana, Annie Lennox, and many more.

MTV Unplugged performances were often released as albums, and including recordings from MTV Brasil, over 100 MTV Unplugged albums have been released from 1991-2020. The ’90s saw a boom of artists participating in the show, with many albums going platinum. Notably, Mariah Carey, Tony Bennett, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Shakira, and Lauryn Hill were among those who achieved platinum status from their Unplugged performances. Carey even had a No. 1 hit from her special with her cover of The Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There.” The show received a Peabody Award in 1994, highlighting its cultural impact.

With that in mind, here’s our list of 10 unplugged albums everyone should own:

1. Nirvana – ‘MTV Unplugged In New York’ (1994)

Recorded just five months before Kurt Cobain’s untimely passing, Nirvana’s performance is hauntingly beautiful and raw. This live LP was the first release following Cobain’s death and won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. Essential tracks include “All Apologies” and their cover of Lead Belly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.”

2. Alice In Chains – ‘MTV Unplugged’ (1996)

Alice In Chains’ 1996 performance is both extraordinary and bittersweet, marking the band’s first performance together in over two years due to Layne Staley’s struggles with drug abuse. This set is a powerful reminder of their musical prowess. Key tracks include “Down in a Hole” and “Rooster.”

3. Rod Stewart – ‘Unplugged…And Seated’ (1993)

Featuring former Faces bandmate Ronnie Wood, this album showcases unplugged versions of Stewart’s biggest hits, such as “Maggie May” and “Hot Legs,” along with moving covers like Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.”

4. Eric Clapton – ‘Unplugged’ (1992)

Clapton’s Unplugged is a commercial and critical triumph, winning three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. The album has sold 26 million copies worldwide and features the unforgettable acoustic version of “Layla” and the poignant “Tears in Heaven.”

5. Page And Plant – ‘No Quarter: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded’ (1994)

This special features a reunited Robert Plant and Jimmy Page with a mix of electric and acoustic elements, enhanced by local musicians from Morocco, Wales, and London. Notable tracks include “Kashmir” and “The Battle of Evermore.”

6. Pearl Jam – ‘MTV Unplugged’ (2020)

Recorded in 1992 and officially released in 2019 for Record Store Day, Pearl Jam’s Unplugged set captures the raw energy of a band on the brink of superstardom. Highlights include “Jeremy” and “Alive.”

7. KISS – ‘KISS Unplugged’ (1996)

KISS’ 1995 Unplugged performance brought the four original members together for the first time since the late ‘70s, leading to their famous 1996 reunion tour. Memorable songs include “Beth” and “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

8. Bob Dylan – ‘MTV Unplugged’ (1995)

Recorded in 1994 and released in 1995, Dylan’s Unplugged set features timeless classics like “The Times They Are a-Changin’” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”

9. Neil Young – ‘Unplugged’ (1993)

Young’s 1993 Unplugged set includes some of his most iconic songs, like “Harvest Moon” and “The Needle and the Damage Done,” capturing his introspective and heartfelt performance.

10. Paul McCartney – ‘Unplugged (The Official Bootleg)’ (1991)

One of the first performances in MTV Unplugged history, McCartney’s set was completely unplugged with no amps, offering stripped-down versions of his hits. Standout tracks include “Blackbird” and “We Can Work It Out.”

These unplugged albums not only showcase the artists’ musical talents in a stripped-down setting but also offer a unique and intimate listening experience that stands the test of time.

Unplugged Radio is on Sunday Nights at Live Jam

For music enthusiasts seeking an intimate and raw acoustic experience, Sunday nights on Live Jam offer a sanctuary with the “Unplugged Radio” show. This program has quickly become a beloved staple for listeners who crave authentic, stripped-down performances from both emerging and established artists.

The Essence of Unplugged Radio, “Unplugged Radio” on Live Jam taps into the timeless appeal of acoustic music, providing a platform where musicians can showcase their artistry without the embellishments of modern production. Each Sunday night, the airwaves are filled with soulful melodies, heartfelt lyrics, and the pure sound of acoustic instruments, creating an atmosphere that is both nostalgic and refreshing.

The show features a diverse lineup of artists, spanning genres and generations. From rock and folk to blues and indie, “Unplugged Radio” celebrates the universal language of music in its most authentic form. Listeners can expect to hear iconic tracks reimagined, as well as new material from contemporary musicians. This blend of the old and new keeps the show dynamic and engaging.

What sets “Unplugged Radio” apart is its focus on the intimacy of the performances. The show often includes live sessions recorded in small, acoustically-rich venues, capturing the nuances of each note and the emotion behind every word. These sessions bring listeners closer to the artists, offering a unique glimpse into their creative processes and personal stories.

“Unplugged Radio” has cultivated a loyal following of music lovers who tune in every Sunday night to unwind and connect through the power of acoustic music. The show’s social media presence allows listeners to engage with each other and the artists, sharing their thoughts and favorite moments from the broadcast.

The show is hosted by a passionate music aficionado who brings a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to every episode. With a deep understanding of music history and a keen ear for talent, the host guides listeners through each set with insightful commentary and a genuine love for the art form.

Tune In

For those who appreciate the beauty of acoustic music and the raw talent of musicians, “Unplugged Radio” on Live Jam is a must-listen. It offers a break from the heavily-produced tracks that dominate the mainstream, providing a refreshing and soulful alternative that resonates deeply with its audience.

So, if you’re looking to end your weekend on a high note, tune into “Unplugged Radio” every Sunday night on Live Jam. Let the soothing sounds of acoustic music wash over you and prepare you for the week ahead.