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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An old master and a young challenger get it right live on stage

Bob Dylan - MTV Unplugged

Another huge name but with far fewer doubts over whether the unplugged style might suit Bob Dylan. It’s more ironic that he was reverting to an acoustic set after all the fuss and reaction when he first plugged in his guitar on stage many years before. Recorded in New York in 1994 with a small audience this was ideal for Dylan. 

He was persuaded by MTV to turn it into a greatest hits session and played many of his best-known songs. The album features just 11 of the songs from the show but they are performed in classic Dylan style with a freshness and verve that doesn't always feature when Dylan plays live. 

This set was like a musical education for younger folk at the time. Many ask what all the fuss is about Dylan. Watch the show, listen to the album, and learn from a master. 

Maxwell - MTV Unplugged

When this was recorded for MTV, Maxwell had just one album out. Admittedly Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite release from the year before became a big hit after a slow start. Even so, it's a big challenge to take on the Unplugged approach. Maxwell accepted and duly delivered on that.

This eight-song EP was released in 1997 and went on to sell over 0.5m copies. One of the songs, “Whenever Wherever Whatever”, was nominated for a Grammy Award as Best Male Vocal Pop Performance, but was pipped by Elton John with his Princess Diana tribute version of “Candle In The Wind”. The EP is full of great songs and performances and helped broaden awareness of Maxwell even more as a mainstream artist with his particular blend of neo-soul.

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