Picks and Pans Review: Babyface Mtv Unplugged Nyc 1997
Too often MTV's Unplugged format (big-name musicians playing their music acoustically) becomes little more than a repackaging of high-decibel acts in a gentler, quieter sound. But there are times when the televised concerts—which have featured everyone from Nirvana to Bob Dylan over the past eight years—do considerably more than just present songs in a newly marketable way. Such is the case with Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds' first in-performance album. Recorded in New York City this fall, Babyface Unplugged is, despite the title, a decidedly plugged-in event with such electrified backup players as Sheila E. and Nathan East plus guest stars Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder. But what is more significant than the higher-than-expected decibel level is the fact that Babyface Unplugged gives the ubiquitous singer-songwriter-producer a chance to reclaim some of the songs he gave away—"Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," "Breathe Again"—and to offer up crisp new takes on his own personal hits. With the performer's impassioned singing, engaging élan and impressive musicianship, this CD is a sleek, polished celebration of Kenny Edmonds, the hitmaker and the star. (Epic)
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