More than a jewel
‘Unplugged’ is, in my opinion, the best Corrs-CD because they took the best parts from their former work and they put it together in one live session. Unplugged is a 64:01 minute session of quality music.
The Corrs, in cooperation with Mitchel Froom and The Irish Film Orchestra, recorded (MTV) ‘Unplugged’ at Ardmore Studios Co. in Wicklow, Ireland, on the 5th October 1999.
Mitchel Froom worked with a lot of artists, including Crowded House: one of Sharon’s favourite bands. As usual, the Corrs were supported by Anto Drennan and Keith Duffy, to make the songs ‘complete’: Anto Drennan on lead guitar and dobro, and Keith Duffy on bass and percussion.
(The songs on the album are NOT in the original order)
"Ladies and gentlemen... please welcome... THE CORRS!"
They started their session with the opening song for almost every concert: ‘Only When I Sleep’. I say almost, because they started their Royal Albert Hall concert with ‘When He’s Not Around’.
But this was ‘Only When I Sleep’: a perfect start I think, because it is a good reflection of what they sound like: a mixture of pop and rock, and the haunting sound of Irish melodies. They lyrics of the song are poetic: Andrea uses a lot of comparisons and metaphors. The mysticism of the words fits the song perfectly. The Corrs love to play this song and I think that’s because it’s a challenge for all of them.
The second song of the album, ‘What Can I Do’, has a lot of different versions and at this concert, The Corrs baptized their ‘Unplugged-version’. Typical of this version is the replacement of the ‘doo-doo-doo-doo’ keyboard-part from Jim: at this session, they use the strings in the orchestra to do the work. It’s beautiful like this. ‘What Can I Do’ is, lyrically, easier than ‘Only When I Sleep’ but the lyrics fit the song very well. It’s also good to know that this is one of the only songs in which Sharon plays in different positions.
‘Radio’ is the third song. It is written in the key of E Major and that makes it sound clear, but with a lot of depth. Radio is one of the most outstanding songs on the album. Especially the chorus is very catchy and if you have heard the song, you can’t get it out of your head for hours. Andrea sings with her whole being and that’s what makes her different from most other singers.
‘Radio’ has been a big hit all over the world and I think that says enough…
The next song is ‘Toss The Feathers’, the first instrumental song on the album. It is a traditional Irish song, but arranged by the Corrs. For Caroline, it’s time to leave her drum kit and it’s time to take her bodhràn, an Irish percussion instrument. She plays a great solo part in this song and the people in the audience answer it with a big applause. The melody is played by Sharon on her violin, and Andrea, on her tin whistle (and if you listen very carefully, you can even hear her gasp for breath…). Jim plays the chords on the piano.
Loved by every Corrs-fan…’Runaway’! After the upbeat ‘Toss The Feathers’, it’s time for a slow love song. Caroline, the Corr-of-all-trades (but in fact they all are like that) plays the piano part and she does that very well. She made a mistake at the end, but you can’t hear that on the CD. The lyrics are to-the-point and sincere and the song as a whole makes you shiver, no matter how many times you’ve listened to it.
The next song starts with violin only. It is one of Sharon’s moments: the introduction to ‘Forgiven Not Forgotten’. This song is very mysterious and haunting and not a minute the same: After the introduction, Caroline (bodhràn) and Jim (piano) start to play and soon, Andrea and Sharon play along. When Andrea starts to sing, the first few words seem to tell you the story of the whole song: "All alone, staring on, watching her life go by." It is sad. The chorus seems to be a little more optimistic and that’s what the song is about: the girl who sings it is alone, but the one she had been with is forgiven and not forgotten. The second verse is more upbeat, because Caroline is playing the drums now. It’s still sad, but the violin part at the end of the song reflects the optimism that’s hidden.
This song makes you shiver again.
‘At Your Side’ is way different. It is, like ‘Radio’, a new song. ‘At Your Side’, a song about friendship, is the happiest song on the album: it is written in the key of D Major and very upbeat. Caroline isn’t playing drums: she plays the tambourine, what makes it very playful. The song is simple as a whole but sounds very, very good. If you’ve ever had a fight and you want to make up with that particularly person, sing this song to him/her and I’m sure you’ll be forgiven, not forgotten.
The next song is called ‘Little Wing’. The song is not written by The Corrs themselves, but it’s their own version of a Jimi Hendrix-song. The only thing that reminds you of Jimi Hendrix are the words though. The Corrs make this song completely different by using their Irish instruments. They make it their own song. Anto Drennan uses his slide and plays a very good solo part and shows you that he is a very good guitar player.
One of the other highlights of the concert is ‘No Frontiers’. Andrea leaves the place and both Caroline and Sharon move to the front. They sing this song together, while Jim plays the piano.
The Corrs didn’t write this either: it was written by Jimmy McCarthy for Mary Black (also an Irish singer) in the first place.
First, Sharon sings one verse and introduces you to the chorus. Then, Caroline sings a verse and then they sing the whole chorus unisono. Next, they both sing another verse and then, they sing the chorus again, but this time it is with two different voices: Sharon sings the main melody while Caroline sings the higher part. They do this very well and show you that ‘the other sisters’ can sing too...both Sharon and Caroline make a big, big impression.
After ‘No Frontiers’, it’s time for ‘Queen Of Hollywood’, a song they wrote themselves. It’s about the life of an actress who gives her whole life for a career and gets that, and finally ends up very badly. It’s sad: a sad story and you can hear that in Andrea’s voice. Sharon decided to make the violin part not too difficult, but very catchy and she did that very well. This is a song you want to hear over and over again and that makes you happy and sad at the same time.
The next song is Old Town, written by Phil Lynott and Jimmy Bain. Again, the Corrs made their own version but this version is closer to the original than ‘Little Wing’. When Andrea sings it, it sounds very sweet and you cannot suppress a smile when she sings her ‘Oh la’. There is a trumpet solo, played by Ronan Dooney what makes the song very vivacious and Caroline supports that while playing the tambourine. This has also been a big hit, just because this is a song to love...
The second and last instrumental song on the album is ‘Lough Erin Shore’: another arranged song. You’ve heard the melody before, because the melody is the same as the introduction that Sharon played in ‘Forgiven Not Forgotten’. The only difference is that it’s five tones (a quint) lower. Andrea plays along on her tin whistle, Jim plays the piano and Caroline plays the drums. Caroline has a solo in the middle and a woman from the orchestra joins her on the snare drum. It’s good as a whole and very pleasant to listen to.
‘So Young’ was the last song they played at the concert, but not the last one on the CD. This song is written by The Corrs, in the key of G Major. It’s very lively and optimistic and you even want to clap along when Jim asks if ‘Everybody wants to put his or her hands in the air’. They play this song at every concert and you can’t get enough of it, just because it makes you happy.
The last song on the CD is ‘Everybody Hurts’, an R.E.M.-cover. Jim plays this with capo on 3rd fret because the original melody is too low for Andrea. Sharon plays the violin and Caroline plays percussion. The funny thing is the way Sharon and Caroline sing their backing vocals, because it reveals their Irish accent: "HolD on, holD on". The song is beautiful: R.E.M. can be proud...
As I said: I think this is the best Corrs-CD. I can recommend this to everybody. I use this CD when I have to introduce people to the Corrs: It’s more than a jewel.
The Corrs Wave