Ten excellent MTV Unplugged albums that were not huge sellers

  • MTV Unplugged albums sold over 80 million copies.
  • The top 15 sellers all sold over 1million copies.
  • Here are ten excellent unplugged albums just below that level, but which are very much the best of the rest.
MTV Unplugged: Bob Dylan
MTV Unplugged: Bob Dylan / Frank Micelotta Archive/GettyImages
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Two different styles, two great live albums

Jay-Z - Jay-Z: Unplugged

I’m not a huge rap fan, but this album is very accessible and deserves respect for being a truly great recording. It’s one of the MTV Unplugged series highlights, even if its sales are only around the 600k mark. The show was recorded back in November 2001 and the album was released quickly the following month.

Jay-Z had backing from The Roots plus Mary J Blige and Pharrell Williams made guest appearances. The rapper and his crew turned out to be a great show. The electronic beat and drum machine may be missing but the acoustic-based set works brilliantly. By this time an organ and piano were well accepted within the unplugged concept and he made good use of them. 

With the benefit of a great track listing and some medleys, Jay-Z covers his hits and more. Could this be the best live rap album? Very possibly, it’s a strong contender despite the constraints of the unplugged concept. 

Shakira - MTV Unplugged

This 2000 album from Shakira is a top seller with over 800k copies and is the 16th top seller from the MTV Unplugged collection. That certainly makes it top of the best of the rest list in sales terms anyway. And justifiably too. It was good enough to earn her a Grammy Award for Best Latin Pop Album.

The Latin aspect was a big first in many ways, including this being the first Latin pop act on the series and the first show entirely in Spanish. Shakira may have plenty of layers and polish applied to her studio records, but her work and voice are very strong and she easily copes with being unplugged. If you like Latin pop you won’t go wrong with this one.

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