Picks and Pans Review: Unplugged
In the beginning, MTV created Unplugged, a challenge to musicians to work without the safety net of amplification. But with the release of this album, the format threatens to become a mere marketing gimmick, more obvious than innovative. Arrested Development's Unplugged is just a hip, greatest-hits package, essentially a version of their Grammy-winning album of last year, sans digital samples and backing tracks.
Augmented by horns, additional singers and a band, AD attempts to prove that rap can exist without high tech. "People Everyday" and "Mr. Wendal" are significantly reworked, with the latter taking on a new solemnity befitting its compassionate message about the homeless. They make their point but so what? AD never relied on samples that much to begin with. So why bother recording them Unplugged? Nothing's to be gained other than selling more records with just one new song. Only the energy of Speech and his crew saves the disc from Cynical Product Hell. (Chrysalis/ERG)