I haven’t pitched this feature (yet…), but if I were to assemble a list of the best episodes of MTV’s Unplugged, Metallica’s appearance back in 1998 would be undoubtedly be a top contender. Sure, they’re the modern-day titans of metal, but strip them of their mountainous amps and ear-shattering guitar riffs, and what remains is an inventive and free-wheeling display of rock and roll abandonment. Also, three words: the freakin’ lute.
Need more recent proof? Last night, the band once again went unplugged, performing an acoustic set at the 10th annual MusiCares MAP Fund Benefit Concert at Los Angeles’ Club Nokia. Instead of exploring their own “Yeah”-filled discography, Metallica delivered four slightly off-kilter covers: a subdued take on The Beatles’ “In My Life”; a bluesy rendition of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Diary of a Madman” (Osbourne was a guest of honor); a bit of funk with a version of Rare Earth’s “I Just Want To Celebrate”; and an especially mournful run through Deep Purple’s “When A Blind Man Cries”.
Whether or not their other, more recent activity has forever tarnished their legacy, or you’re more inclined to outright hate them, Metallica at least know how to keep things interesting and unpredictable. Check out fan-shot footage of the mini-concert below.
“In My Life” (The Beatles cover):
“Diary of a Madman” (Ozzy Osbourne cover):
“I Just Want To Celebrate” (Rare Earth cover):
“When A Blind Man Cries” (Deep Purple cover):
Metallica’s been on something of a covers spree as of late. Last week, it was revealed that Kirk Hammett covered the 1892 smash single “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)” as part of a recent art exhibit. Before that, they unveiled the ferocious “Ronnie Rising Medley”, their contribution to a new Ronnie James Dio tribute album.