Pearl Jam "MTV Unplugged (3/16/92)" (2019 Record Store Day Black Friday LP)

Pearl Jam were the official Ambassadors of Record Store Day in 2019, and for the other Record Store Day the same year – namely Black Friday – the Seattle grunge band is issuing the LP MTV Unplugged, featuring the 7-song acoustic set which the band performed in March 1992 for that program. This will be the first time this performance will be available on vinyl, and it will be limited to 13,000 copies (which is actually a surprisingly high number for a Record Store Day exclusive print run).

Six of the seven songs were drawn from the band’s 1991 mega-platinum debut album Ten, which was still ascending toward the peak of its popularity at the time of the show’s taping. The other song, “State Of Love And Trust”, turned up later in 1992 on the Singles movie soundtrack. A DVD of the Unplugged show was previously included as a bonus item in the 2009 Deluxe Edition of Ten (Legacy 88697398492).

The opening song “Oceans” (which was excluded from the original TV broadcast) lends itself well to the show’s acoustic format, and gives the set a slow-building intro. The tempo is faster on “State Of Love And Trust”, which comes off better as an acoustic number than as its noisier electric studio counterpart. The next four selections are now-well-known radio hits. “Alive” loses just a bit of its strength in acoustic form, but Eddie Vedder’s vocal delivery is nearly perfect, as it is for most of the set. The ballad “Black” is rendered almost flawlessly in this setting, except for its slightly awkward finish. “Jeremy” also receives a near-solid rendition, and it is amusing to notice Vedder holding back on the f-word for the TV broadcast. Most of “Even Flow” is the virtual equal of its studio version, except when some of its guitar parts become inaudible during its instrumental break. These flaws are forgivable, because part of the appeal of the MTV Unplugged program was seeing how much the featured artist was able to pull off without the benefit of electric instruments. And, for the show closer “Porch”, the band demonstrates the amount of hard-rock fury they were able to generate using only acoustic instruments. Notably, this set is a good showcase for then-drummer Dave Abbruzzese, who joined the band shortly after the recording of Ten and was fired in 1994 – and was not inducted with the band into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2017. Even without its visual component, the MTV Unplugged LP should serve as a significant glimpse of Pearl Jam at the dawn of their grunge-era mega-stardom.

Pearl Jam “MTV Unplugged (3/16/92)” (Legacy) 2019

Track Listing:

1. Oceans
2. State Of Love And Trust
3. Alive
4. Black
5. Jeremy
6. Even Flow
7. Porch