Unplugged (Eric Clapton album)

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Unplugged
Eric Clapton Unplugged.jpg
Live album by Eric Clapton
Released 25 August 1992
Recorded 16 January 1992, Bray Film Studios, Windsor, England, UK
Genre Acoustic rock, acoustic blues
Length 61:47
Label Reprise, Duck, MTV
Producer Russ Titelman
Eric Clapton chronology
Rush
(1991)
Unplugged
(1992)
From the Cradle
(1994)

Unplugged is the sixth live album by Eric Clapton released in 1992.[1] It was recorded for the MTV Unplugged series and includes both the hit song "Tears in Heaven" and a heavily reworked acoustic version of "Layla". The album won three Grammy Awards in 1993 and sold 26 million copies worldwide.[2]

Background[edit]

Clapton performed the show in front of a small audience on 16 January 1992 at Bray Film Studios in Windsor, England.[3] In addition to the final album tracks, the performance included early versions of "My Father's Eyes" and "Circus Left Town" along with "Worried Life Blues" and a version of "Rollin' and Tumblin'".[4] Clapton played Martin 000-42 acoustic guitars for much of the performance, and in 2004, one of the guitars sold for 791,500 USD (£434,400) in auction.[1][5] Commenting on the popularity of the album in his 2007 autobiography, Clapton wishes the reader to understand the great emotional toll he experienced around that time, and suggests that they visit the grave of his son Conor in Ripley to do so.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[7]
Chicago Tribune 2.5/4 stars[8]
Entertainment Weekly (A-)[9]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[10]
Robert Christgau B−[11]

AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine starts his review by looking at the commercial figures, calling this Unplugged release a "massive success" and "one of the rare albums to be certified as diamond in the U.S. and it went platinum all over the world". He also notes that the album "was the first-ever MTV album, that it alone was responsible for revitalizing Clapton's career". Erlewine goes on to uplift the release saying the songs that were recorded are "lively and relaxed". He finished his review saying that this live release "cut[s] to the quick of Clapton's musical DNA". He rated the album with 4.5 of 5 possible stars.[7]

Greg Kot of Chicago Tribune calls the release a "blues album for yuppies" and rates it with 2.5 of 4 stars, saying it is between fair and good.[8] Entertainment Weekly journalist Steve Simels scores the album (A-) calling the album "a charmer, a collection of blues standards and recent Clapton songs rendered with just the right combination of intensity (a deeply felt version of "Tears in Heaven") and giddy fun (Clapton actually plays kazoo on "San Francisco Bay Blues")".[9] Steve Hochman from the Los Angeles Times music section gives the album three out of four possible stars (good) and calls the tapes "Clapton's most passionate collection in years".[10]

Accolades[edit]

Clapton earned three Grammy Awards for the album, including Album of the Year, Best Rock Male Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song.[12] Although "Tears in Heaven" also earned three Grammy Awards, it was the version from Rush that the judges awarded.[12]

Year Organisation Award Work Result Ref.
1992 Guitar World Best guitar-albums of 1992 Unplugged #9 [13]
Musikexpress Best albums of 1992 #8 [14]
1993 NARAS Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance Won [15]
Grammy Award for Album of the Year [16]
Grammy Award for Best Rock Song Layla [17]
NCTA CableACE Award Unplugged Nominated [18]
2000 Q Best British albums #71 [19]
2005 Musikexpress Best albums of the 1990s #32 [20]

Personnel[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

In Germany the album peaked at #3 in the German Albums Chart and sold a total of 1.25 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling albums in Germany. In Austria, Unplugged held itself 46 weeks in the Austrian Albums Chart and sold more than 100,000 copies in total. In Switzerland the album also reached #3 in the country's chart. Selling 60,000 copies in the first two weeks, the live album was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry – a record for any British artist.[21] In the U.S. the album peaked at number two.

Re-release[edit]

On 15 October 2013 the album and concert DVD were re-released, titled Unplugged: Expanded & Remastered. The album includes the original 14 tracks, remastered, as well as six additional tracks, including two versions of "My Father's Eyes". The DVD includes a restored version of the concert, as well as over 60 minutes of unseen footage from the rehearsal.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Signe"   Eric Clapton 3:13
2. "Before You Accuse Me"   Bo Diddley 3:44
3. "Hey Hey"   Big Bill Broonzy 3:16
4. "Tears in Heaven"   Clapton, Will Jennings 4:36
5. "Lonely Stranger"   Clapton 5:27
6. "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out"   Jimmy Cox 3:49
7. "Layla"   Clapton, Jim Gordon 4:46
8. "Running on Faith"   Jerry Lynn Williams 6:30
9. "Walkin' Blues"   Robert Johnson 3:37
10. "Alberta"   Traditional, arr. by Huddie William Ledbetter 3:42
11. "San Francisco Bay Blues"   Jesse Fuller 3:24
12. "Malted Milk"   Robert Johnson 3:36
13. "Old Love"   Clapton, Robert Cray 7:54
14. "Rollin' and Tumblin'"   Muddy Waters 4:11
Total length:
61:47

Single releases[edit]

The acoustic rework of "Layla" was released as the single "Layla (Acoustic)", sometimes titled as "Layla (Unplugged)" in September 1992.[22] The release reached top positions in both 1992 and 1993, reaching No .1 in the RPM Canadian Top Singles chart[23] as well as peaking at number four in the Canadian Adult Contemporary Tracks the same year.[24] It also became popular in the US reaching No. 4[25] on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, peaking at No. 9 in the Mainstream Rock chart[26] and reaching place 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.[27] It also reached the top ten five of other countries.

Clapton's acoustic version of "Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out" was released as a single in Argentina only on 27 September 1992. Journalist Morten Holgersson from Norway liked the cover version noting that Clapton recorded the song more sinfully and in a more modern style than any other artist before. This, recalls Holgersson, is due to the changing of Clapton's finger picking and guitar playing with a pick. He therefore ended his review saying this was "tactful and percussive".[28] American music critic Will Branson also liked Ray Cooper's and Chuck Leavell's work on their instruments.[29]

"Running on Faith" was not released as a single, but reached No. 15 on the Billboard Mainstream rock chart in 1993 as well as No. 28 on the Adult Contemporary chart which are based on radio airplay.[30] "Tears in Heaven" was not released as a single from Unplugged but from the soundtrack for the film Rush.

Chart positions[edit]

Certifications[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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