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MTV Unplugged in New York is a live album by the American grunge band Nirvana. It features an acoustic performance taped at Sony Music Studios in New York City on November 18, 1993, for the television series MTV Unplugged. The show was directed by Beth McCarthy and first aired on the cable television network MTV on December 16, 1993. As opposed to traditional practice on the television series, the band played a set list composed of mainly lesser-known material and cover versions of songs by The Vaselines, David Bowie, Lead Belly, and Meat Puppets, whose Cris and Curt Kirkwood joined Nirvana onstage. MTV Unplugged in New York was the first Nirvana album released following the death of Kurt Cobain. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and has become the group's most successful posthumous release, having been certified 5x platinum in the United States by 1997. It also won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 1996. The performance was released on DVD in 2007. If In Utero is a suicide note, MTV Unplugged in New York is a message from beyond the grave, a summation of Kurt Cobain's talents and pain so fascinating, it's hard to listen to repeatedly. Is it the choice of material or the spare surroundings that make it so effective? Well, it's certainly a combination of both, how the version of the Vaselines' "Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam" or the three covers of Meat Puppets II songs mean as much as "All Apologies" or "Something in the Way." This, in many senses, isn't just an abnormal Nirvana record, capturing them in their sincerest desire to be R.E.M. circa Automatic for the People, it's the Nirvana record that nobody, especially Kurt, wanted revealed. It's a nakedly emotional record, unintentionally so, as the subtext means more than the main themes of how Nirvana wanted to prove its worth and diversity, showcasing the depth of their songwriting. As it turns out, it accomplishes its goals rather too well; this is a band, and songwriter, on the verge of discovering a new sound and style. Then, there's the subtexts, as Kurt's hurt and suicidal impulses bubble to the surface even as he's trying to suppress them. Few records are as unblinkingly bare and naked as this, especially albums recorded by their peers. No other band could have offered covers of David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" and the folk standard "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" on the same record, turning in chilling performances of both -- performances that reveal as much as their original songs. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
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