KMA272 Nirvana – MTV Unplugged In New York

We still don’t have a new record store in town since the Music World died its inglorious death at New Year. Where are you, HMV? At least you’d be better than nothing! Anyway, thus far we are reduced to finding what little enjoyable media we can at the local Wal-Mart. I know. But, every once in a while, it seems, one or two cool things wash up on their content-controlled shores.

For example, this DVD of Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged In New York, which I got for $10. This is an excellent deal for an excellent show. Damn, what a great band.

There’s lots that is cool about this show. Consider these facts: They played only a couple of their hits, instead favouring cover tunes and more obscure tracks from their catalogue. They announced Special Guests and while everyone speculated who it might be, with things getting, of course, more and more grand leading up to the unveiling, it turned out to be Curt and Cris Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets (which I think is awesome), and everyone went “oh.” Haha. Idiots. Meat Puppets rock.

And then there’s the band themselves. Dave Grohl put on one helluva show of controlled drumming in this set. Sure, he looks bored, but for a band that was used to bashing away with abandon, this set shows that they actually are/were talented musicians. Same goes for Krist Novoselic. He has always seemed a little wonky, but the boy can play, no question. And Kurt Cobain himself seemed somehow in a different mood that night, somewhat resigned but willing to experiment, reasonably lucid, and to me, he looked relaxed. This set really showed off his vocal skills (and yes, that scream is a skill too), and his unique guitar work.

They are also joined onstage by Pat Smear (now of Foo Fighters, as is Grohl, of course), who had just begun to play with the band. And adding some cello goodness was Lori Goldston, who looked like she was either concentrating very hard or completely unimpressed to be there (it’s hard to tell). But she sounded great and really added to the tunes, no question.

The only downside to this disc is the special features. I hate special features, bar none. I haven’t seen any that make me want to watch them all the way through (not even the stuff on the extended Lord Of The Rings box sets). All these are, really, just a bunch of people yammering about who’s a genius, and how this is the best project they’ve ever worked on, everything that happened was a defining moment, yada yada yada. Worse, on this disc it’s the people who put on the show, and some of the people who were there. With the benefit of hindsight (because I’m sure few people knew what would happen a short time later), they can drool all over themselves ad nauseum. Just shut up, you idiots. Shut. Up. Of course, they might say the same thing to me for having written this. Whatever.

There is one cool feature, the never-before-seen rehearsals performed by the band prior to the show. It’s like getting to be there for sound-check, seeing them experiment with set-ups and volumes, and who would play what instrument. Cool.

One other thing I noticed about this set was that, since this is the first-ever DVD release of this gig (and it’s the entire show, not the edited-for-TV version), I found it strange to be watching them play these songs. You see, I’ve owned the CD of this show for years, and I have grown accustomed to letting the voices and the instruments speak to me. So seeing a video of them playing it was definitely outside of what I’ve been used to – but not really in a bad way, I’m just pointing it out.

So Wally World came through on this rare occasion, selling me this brilliant show so cheaply. It’s an important historical document of a band that hit their peak and then never really left it (in my humble opinion), playing songs in a far different manner from what they were used to doing at gigs. It is imperfect and raw, and therefore it is perfect.

You should own this. It’s well worth it.

Track Listing:
01 About A Girl
02 Come As You Are
03 Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam
04 The Man Who Sold The World
05 Pennyroyal Tea
06 Dumb
07 Polly
08 On A Plain
09 Something In The Way
10 Plateau
11 Oh, Me
12 Lake Of Fire
13 All Apologies
14 Where Did You Sleep Last Night?


01 Original MTV Version of the show
02 MTV News: Bare Witness (interviews)
03 The Rehearsals:
Come As You Are
Pennyroyal Tea
The Man Who Sold The World

Posted on March 8, 2008, in posts by aaron and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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