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Unplugged The Official Bootleg

Right around now would be a great time to say that Paul McCartney is washed up. 1989’s Flowers in the Dirt, likely as fine an effort as he could muster, stiffed in the face of hot ’90s competition from Paula Abdul, Milli Vanilli, and New Kids on the Block. If that weren’t enough, both the tour and live album that followed were crammed with Beatle tunes and simply reeked of nostalgia. And now Unplugged: another live album, pulled from MTV’s acoustic show MTV Unplugged and filled with oldies, not only by the Beatles but by Gene Vincent, Bill Monroe, and Wynonie Harris. So how come it’s so good? How come all these songs — even ”She’s a Woman” and ”We Can Work It Out” — sound fresh? Maybe because of the informality of the setting (McCartney played in a London club in front of just 200 fans), the all-acoustic playing of a now-cracking band (from the last tour; the time they spent together has clearly paid off), and the ingenuity of the material (the guy’s got great roots). And maybe because, after almost 30 years, McCartney still has it and never lost it. His chart presence may be diminishing, but his raw talent, casually displayed here, makes the numbers game — and most of McCartney’s competition — wonderfully moot. B+

Unplugged The Official Bootleg
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