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  • Neil Young: Unplugged [VHS]
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Neil Young: Unplugged [VHS]

85 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Reprise
  • VHS Release Date: June 15, 1993
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 630279997X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,274 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

In Neil Young's world--to paraphrase John Lennon (who was quoting Harry Nilsson)--everything is the opposite of what it is. The fragile is epic, the epic is personal, the personal is a collective dream. Young's best songs are like Tennyson's poems, somehow always shimmering under scrutiny, somehow all the more soulful for evading fixed points of meaning. While there was nothing evasive about Young's negative opinions of MTV in the 1980s, both he and the cable channel had broad enough shoulders to collaborate on an Unplugged installment in 1993 featuring Young and a few of his friends. The result was one of the best events in the innovative series, a strong but relaxed, sharp but dreamy acoustic performance with several of Young's best live recordings in the '90s. Starting with a couple of folk-rock mysteries--the sorrowful "The Old Laughing Lady" and eerie classic "Mr. Soul"--Young lumbers beautifully from the fantastic, hippie elegy of "Pocahontas" to an unlikely psychedelic spin on "Like a Hurricane" (sounding a bit like "Strawberry Fields Forever").

The second half of the show finds a few other musicians strolling in, including Young's old ally, Nils Lofgren, with accordian, guitar, and harmonies at the ready. Young's unequivocally nongrungy sister, Astrid, and the late Nicolette Larson sweeten the vocals and add warmth to the instant-community atmosphere. Together, everyone reshapes the never-quite-on-the-money CSN&Y classic "Helpless" into a taut, private prayer, teases the tenderness and fun out of "Transformer Man," and makes "Harvest Moon" sound so delicate that anything else on the radio seems slightly obscene. The program ends with an encore performance of "From Hank to Hendrix," which, in this MTV context, comes across as a nonsubtle plea from a rock godfather to beware the momentum of time and change on popular music, to "still get it together" despite the pressures of fashion. A very satisfying experience all around. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By P Magnum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 8, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Neil Young was unplugged before the MTV show become a phenomenon, so it was only natural that he make an appearance on the show. As usual, Mr. Young mixes up his set, playing new songs like "From Hank To Hendrix" and the sweet "Harvest Moon" to old chestnuts like the Buffalo Springfield's "Mr. Soul" and "The Old Laughing Lady" from his first solo album. While many of the songs like "The Needle & The Damage Done" & the brilliant "Pocahontas" were acoustic to begin with, there are songs that go under some radical transformations. "Like A Hurricane" was a fuzz guitar heavy, sonic blast, but here it is propelled by only Mr. Young's voice and an eerie pump organ. The results are outstanding. "Transformer Man" is from his electronic album, Trans, and the vocals were distorted by a vocoder. In it's acoustic form, it takes on a weird perspective with its futuristic lyrics. "Helpless" is absolutely gorgeous with lush harmonies led by old Crazy Horse member and current E Streeter, Nils Lofgren. Unplugged is one of the better album taken from the show and shows Neil Young's chameleon like ability to transform songs into different styles.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on September 25, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Given Neil Young's huge catalog and its inclusion of so much acoustic material, you might think that 'unplugging' him would just amount to his doing a show of his acoustic songs. Well, that certainly would have been the easy way. But if Neil took the easy way, he wouldn't be the Neil we've come to know and love.

In fact, although there is a generous helping of material on this CD that was originally released in 'acoustic' form, there are also a number of surprises. For this show, Neil took several highly non-'acoustic' songs and converted them.

One of my favorites is his bluesy, wailing version of 'Mr. Soul'. Originally a Buffalo Springfield tune, this time it's just Neil with his guitar and harmonica. I also like the stripped-down, countryfolkified performances of 'Old Laughing Lady' and 'World on a String'.

And wait until you hear what he's done with 'Transformer Man'. Even if you didn't like it before, you may like it now.

There's also 'Like a Hurricane', a blistering rocker originally released on _American Stars 'n' Bars_ (which, incidentally, is now available on CD at last!). Here Neil performs it solo, accompanying himself on pump organ.

This show took place not long after the release of the magnificent _Harvest Moon_, so there are a couple of selections from that album. And the rest is what you'd expect -- a set of solid performances of old and new favorites, some well-known and some obscure, from all stages of Neil's long career. 'The Needle and the Damage Done', 'Look Out for My Love', 'Long May You Run' -- this stuff is never going to wear out its welcome.

One last highlight: Neil also does a fine tune called 'Stringman' (which I suspect is about Stephen Stills); I don't believe I'd ever heard it, or even heard _of_ it, before this release.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sea Tac on April 4, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Casting aside a small number of albums released in the 80's, the decade that inevitably sabotaged every good musicians career at the time, Neil Young rarely, if ever, disappoints. Unplugged is no exception, being a release in a series of many by MTV highlighting mostly grunge bands unplugging their distortion-filled hits such as Alice In Chains and Nirvana, although Eric Clapton also did a similar performance. The show is well rounded, delivering a number of hits and fan favorites, some of which stay true to their original acoustic form as well as a few nice surprises thrown into the mix for good measure. Helpless, Long May You Run, and Pocahontas stay along the same lines as their original forms: acoustic, soulful ballads, none the least of which is the deceivingly soft The Needle And The Damage Done.

As far as curveballs go, Young takes the originally brooding and distorted World On A String from his extremely dark Tonight's The Night album and turns it into a slow, bluesy number which stands out far more than the original version, while Like A Hurricane loses its screeching feedback and crunchy guitars in favor of a soft pump-organ. Other highlights of the show are The Old Laughing Lady, which opens the show wonderfully, Mr. Soul which I need say nothing about, the nostalgic Harvest Moon, and Transformer Man.

There's not much else to be said except that this is a solid live performance, much of it with Neil accompanied only by his guitar/piano and a harmonica, the band slowly starting to work their way into the performance after the halfway point of the show has been crossed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on July 23, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Although Neil Young is almost universally considered one of the finest rock songwriters, he has an almost perversely huge back catalog (several of which have never been released on CD), more than a few uneven albums, and a self-imposed lack of anthologies. Young, who has always alternated between blistering, grunge-inciting guitar noise riots and gentle, acousitc folk in his own music, was a natural choice - indeed, you might even say a forebearer - for MTV's Unplugged program. Unlike many other veteran rockers (say, Dylan) who chose to offer up a "Greatest Hits" sort of set when their turn on Unplugged came, Neil's selections veer across his entire career, seeming almost arbitrary at times. Although there are some of his more prominent acoustic numbers here (The Needle And The Damage Done, Pocahontas) as well as several numbers from his most recent album at the time, Harvest Moon, there are also tracks dating back to his Buffalo Springfield days and his first solo album, as well as some definitely obscure numbers (Transformer Man, which was completely remade in this acoustic setting; the previously unreleased Stringman, and others.) It is a neat deal and quite a treat for the Young fan to see him perform such a wide cross section of material. Several songs are completely remade in this acoustic context (Mr. Soul, Transformer Man), and many others have already mentioned the standout pump organ/harmonica-led version of Like A Hurricane. This is an essential purchase for the Neil Young fan, and, in point of fact, not a bad early pick for the neophyte.
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