Wednesday, September 23, 2009
MTV UNPLUGGED: 20 YEARS LATER
MTV's groundbreaking show "Unplugged" debuted 20 years ago this October. What started out as a unique and mostly wonderful showcase for musicians to strip down their sound, and showcase some tunes old and new, soon turned into a circus, like most everything else on that network.
After the first 10 or 15 shows, which featured artists such as The Smithereens, Graham Parker, 10,000 Maniacs, Crowded House, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Dr. John getting intimate with their instruments, audience and host singer-songwriter Jules Shear--who by the way, had a major influence on getting the show off the ground-- MTV fired Jules, and the show slowly became bigger, longer, and louder.
Aside from Jules getting the axe, this was not necessarily a bad thing.
It wasn't often one got to see AND hear such huge names as Aerosmith,The Allman Brothers, The Black Crowes (not so huge at the time), Hall & Oates, Elton John and even Bob Dylan & Paul McCartney perform extended sets on television. Unfortunately, those performances were no longer "unplugged." Gone was the "campfire" feel, interaction with host and audience, and charm. Now, performing on "MTV UNPLUGGED" and recording a corresponding CD became de rigueur for anyone with a voice and guitar. It was huge!
Mariah Carey, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Rod Stewart, Nirvana, Tony Bennett and the aforementioned Paul McCartney & Bob Dylan all released best-selling CDs (now there's an oxymoron) in quick succession.
I must admit, I enjoyed almost every single episode. Sorry Mariah and Poison.
Here then, is the audio from the very first episode starring Squeeze, with help from Syd Straw, Elliot Easton (of The Cars, Creedence Clearwater REVISITED, and The New Cars) and host, Jules Shear.
Pulling Mussels From The Shell
She Doesn't Have To Shave
If We Never Meet Again
I'm A Believer