The Unplugged Collection, Volume One
Credit MTV’s Unplugged with spreading the notion that soft rock is some sort of amazing new idea. True, acoustic sets allow musicians to explore the nuances of their songs in an intimate setting. But the results aren’t always revelatory — especially when folk-hearted acts like k.d. lang and 10,000 Maniacs join the hootenanny.
Those artists, along with latter-day rockers (Soul Asylum) and hoary pop artisocrats (Elton John, Paul McCartney), are present on The Unplugged Collection, Volume One, and album long on tasteful renderings and short on innovation. Rod Stewart’s ”Gasoline Alley” is a pleasure, but hardly different from his original. Ditto for R.E.M’s”Half a World Away” and Paul Simon’s ”Graceland.” There are a few new twists — Soul Asylum’s cello-embellished ”Somebody to Shove,” Neil Young’s churchy ”Like a Hurricane” — but only one real treat: Lenny Kravitz’s bluesy ”Are You Gonna Go My Way.” Ultimately, Unplugged raises the question: When are the acts we’d really like to hear unplug — The Ramones, Motorhead, Iggy Pop — going to be invited? B