Kiss - Unplugged
ACOUSTIC EXPO 2014: As a series - or 'strand', if we're going to be pedantic - goes, MTV's Unplugged has not just been successful, it's literally saved careers, inspired countless numbers to 'go acoustic' and borne one or two bonafide classic albums along the way. Here we run through 10 of the best sessions committed to record, kicking off with Kiss…
Kiss - Unplugged
Recorded: 9 August, 1995
At their best MTV's Unplugged sessions don't just refresh back catalogues, they reinvigorate careers. Kiss’ 1995 appearance is case in point: following guest spots on the show (including Beth, below), original members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley reunited with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons for two more albums and a further half-decade of successful touring.
Neil Young - Unplugged
Recorded shortly after the release of 1992's countrified return to form Harvest Moon, Young's Unplugged session should have been an enjoyable victory lap, but the songwriter reportedly fell out with his band over their performances. The tension nonetheless aids the final product.
Bryan Adams - Unplugged
Unlike many of his precursors Adams didn't treat his Unplugged session as an stripped-down mega hits package - though Summer Of '69 and The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You still made the cut.
Instead he expanded a selection of cuts with pipes and orchestral instrumentation, roping in Juilliard students to perform them.
Alanis Morissette - MTV Unplugged
Canadian songwriter Alanis Morisette (AKA the Queen Of The 90s) took up the acoustic reinvention challenge with gusto on this 1999 effort: a piano and cello-laden You Oughta Know sounds darker and more splintered than ever, while Ironic eschews the sarcasm of the original and channels a more reflective nature.
R.E.M. - Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions
Fans of Stipe and co. gained a little lift when the defunct band released this compilation of their two famous sessions earlier this year.
The band's biggest hit, Losing My Religion, complete with Peter Buck's mandolin, particularly suited the format back in 1991 and you can really hear what 10 years spent touring stadiums did to tighten it up, come the 2001 session.
Bob Dylan - Unplugged
Bob Dylan's habit of constant reinvention meant he was a natural when it came to rebirthing acoustic classics like All Along The Watchtower and The Times They Are A-Changin for this 1994 recording.
With God On Our Side closes the album and represents perhaps his most affecting performance of the song.
Alice In Chains - MTV Unplugged
Some Unplugged sessions have come to represent the start of a new chapter in a band's history, but Alice In Chain's desolate 1996 session represents the end of one - marking the last recording to feature Layne Staley (who sadly passed away in 2000).
Brother and Down In A Hole seem particularly imbued with gloomy weight.
Paul McCartney - Unplugged: The Official Bootleg
That McCartney's always been a charming bugger and the intimate warmth captured during this 1991 jaunt through his back catalogue helped create a major turning point for the MTV series.
It was the first unplugged session to see a full album release and another addition to the long list of rock blueprints attributed to Beatles members.
Nirvana - MTV Unplugged In New York
Come 1993, the format needed a revamp and Nirvana were the go-to band when it came to freaking out square-types.
Kurt plugged in his acoustic and used effects and an amp (though it was disguised as a monitor), they recorded in one take and they shirked most of their hits in favour of covering their favourite bands, notably The Vaselines and The Meat Puppets.
Bowie's The Man Who Sold The World has become the album's calling card, but its the agonised cover of Lead Belly's version of Where Did You Sleep Last Night that really raises hairs.
Eric Clapton - Unplugged
The Unplugged album concept had already gained major traction by 1992, thanks to Paul McCartney's aforementioned 'Official Bootleg', but Clapton's effort made it a phenomenon: bagging six Grammies and shifting over 10 million copies.
Layla represents the series most accomplished re-working of an existing hit, while Tears In Heaven (famously written following the tragic death of Clapton's son Conor, just 10 months earlier) sounds incredibly raw - a performance perhaps yet to be topped on Unplugged.
A classic album in its own right, then, but one that came at some cost for Clapton.