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MTV Unplugged

MTV Unplugged

by Eric ClaptonEric Clapton


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Its massive success -- it is one of the rare albums to be certified as diamond in the U.S. and it went platinum all over the world; it also won the Album of the Year Grammy for 1992 -- makes it difficult to place Eric Clapton's 1992 MTV Unplugged in context, but it's important to do so. It arrived three years into MTV Unplugged's run -- 1989 also being the year Clapton stirred artistically with the assured AOR of Journeyman -- and a year after Paul McCartney established the practice of an official album release of an Unplugged session with his own Unplugged (The Official Bootleg). Also in 1991, Clapton's young son Conor died in a tragic accident. The guitarist wrote "Tears in Heaven" as a tribute to his late son and, via its inclusion on the 1991 soundtrack to Rush, it became a hit single and, later, a centerpiece to the Unplugged set. The passage of time has blurred the lines separating all these events, suggesting Clapton's 1992 Unplugged was the first-ever MTV album, that it alone was responsible for revitalizing EC's career, that it is was the place where "Tears in Heaven" premiered, when none of that is quite true. What is true is that Unplugged is the concert and album that established the MTV program as a classy, tony showcase for artists eager to redefine themselves via reexamination of their catalogs, which is what Clapton cannily did here. The album's hit was a slow crawl through Derek & the Dominos' "Layla," turning that anguished howl of pain into a cozy shuffle and the whole album proceeds at a similar amiable gait, taking its time and enjoying detours into old blues standards. Clapton is embracing his middle age and the pleasure of Unplugged is to hear him opt out of the pop star game as he plays songs he's always loved. Tellingly, it's these blues and folk covers -- Jesse Fuller's "San Francisco Bay Blues," Big Bill Broonzy's "Hey Hey," the standard "Alberta," Muddy Waters' "Rollin' and Tumblin'," two songs from Robert Johnson ("Walkin' Blues," "Malted Milk") -- that are the best performances here; they're alternately lively and relaxed, Clapton happily conforming to the contours of the compositions. These capture a moment in time, when EC was settling into his age by reconnecting with the past, whereas the originals -- whether it's the revised versions of "Layla" and "Old Love," "Tears in Heaven," or the debut of "My Father's Eyes," originally heard here (and on the 2013 expanded anniversary edition) but released as a single much later in the decade -- point forward to the sharply tailored adult contemporary crooner of the '90s, one who turned out to be very comfortable existing in a world of high thread counts and designer duds. These are the tunes that belong to the '90s -- and several of these also appear on the 2013 expansion, which contains songs that didn't appear on the album, almost all of which are originals apart from an alternate "Walkin' Blues" and "Worried Life Blues" -- but the rest of MTV Unplugged manages to transcend its time because it does cut to the quick of Clapton's musical DNA.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/25/1992
Label: Reprise / Wea
UPC: 0093624502425
catalogNumber: 45024
Rank: 11250

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Eric Clapton   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Andy Fairweather Low   Guitar
Ray Cooper   Percussion
Nathan East   Bass,Background Vocals
Steve Ferrone   Drums
Katie Kissoon   Background Vocals
Chuck Leavell   Keyboards
Tessa Niles   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Doc Watson   Composer
Jim Gordon   Composer
Eric Clapton   Composer
Huddie Ledbetter   Composer
Muddy Waters   Composer
Russ Titelman   Producer
Jim Barton   Engineer
Jimmy Cox   Composer
James Barton   Engineer

Customer Reviews

Unplugged 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Extremely well done album. Clapton is one of my favourite artists and also the best guitarist in the world along with Page and Hendrix.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is nodoubt one of the best albums i have heard never mind it being unplugged. it shows claptons music for what it is soft rock blues.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD is awesome. I'm a 14 year old girl and I love it. The versions of Layla and Tears in Heaven are beautiful. A must have for Clapton fans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Unplugged revived Clapton’s career when it was first released. After being an electric guitar god for 30 years Eric went acoustic and had a huge hit. On guitar he was unremarkable compared to acoustic virtuosos like Doc Watson or Leo Kottke. What carried the CD was his singing. The songs had a gentle, wistful tone that wears well. Many of them were covers of blues giants like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. Others were revamped versions of his own songs (Layla, Tears in Heaven). They all fit together into an integrated hour concert. It wasn’t quite peak Clapton but may have been his last great moment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Unplugged is one of the best albums ever. Acoustics are good.
JohnQ More than 1 year ago
There are some sweet cuts here and, in the aftermath of the tragic death of Clapton's child, a heartbreaking version of "Tears In Heaven". This is not an essential album, but certainly a good one.
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