(Written by Mateo Muro)
For a while, I considered writing about how Kevin Federline’s terrible debut album Playing with Fire was the scariest thing to come out on Halloween, but something actually great started on this autumn holiday twenty five years ago. MTV first started recording Squeeze for its influential show MTV Unplugged. The premise was an old and simple one: get big music stars to “unplug” their equipment and get away from the big stadium shows. Recreate the songs using more traditional instruments in a more intimate environment. Audiences watching MTV (back when it was actually about the music) on November 26 that year responded well to this first episode featuring Squeeze, Syd Straw, and Elliot Easton. Soon bigger names, such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Elton John, played that season.
MTV Unplugged soon became more than an exciting experiment and into a full-blown sub-genre with its own classic albums. Nirvana, wanted to break the formula at the time by foregoing their bigger hits and playing some deeper cuts and covers. Their interpretation of David Bowie’s “Man Who Sold The World” is a classic. Eric Clapton may now be known more for his singing, but before MTV Unplugged there was a time where he was guitar god. Now “Tears in Heaven” and “Layla” are two of his best known tunes.
A big part of the appeal is the variety of artists. Current artists like Oasis and old ones like Paul McCartney could appear on any given day. There were pop stars, rock stars, and R&B stars there to provide their fans with intimate versions of their music. Covers would also become popular after Mariah Carey’s own rendition of the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” was such a big hit. To this day, it still interesting to see musicians go acoustic. So treat yourself and enjoy some nice fall scenery with your favorite unplugged album.