by C.J. Cain
Unplugged-a word and a concept greeted with disdain by anyone who worships at the altar of metal. When Jon and Ritchie first sat down on national television and castrated heavy metal by playing an acoustic "Dead or Alive," they unwittingly gave birth to a trend that would have been better off stillborn. Soon a parade of lemmings followed, desecrating the religion we hold dear. Some of the smarter bands refused to play "follow the leader," choosing instead to unplug only for a planned effect. I would like to salute those bands who have successfully incorporated an acoustic intro into otherwise "plugged-in" songs-- not just any intros, but those that make you close your eyes to savor every last chill that rushes down your spine!
Fade to Black, Metallica: A haunting introduction to a song that not only deals with a subject most people are afraid to discuss - suicide, but by doing so also validates feelings of extreme despair by addressing some of its causes.
Close Your Eyes, Lita Ford with Ozzy: C'mon, it ranks as a classic simply by the pairing of the musicians.
Black Diamond, Kiss: When I first saw this done live, it was the ultimate foreplay leading to the full audio and visual orgasm that was a KISS show, circa 1978.
Civil War, Guns & Roses: The multi-layered intro, which includes audio clips of Struther Martin from "Cool Hand Luke," and the whistled melody from "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," sets the table for a thought-provoking diatribe on the "business" of war.
Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin: The quintessential acoustic intro - most guitarists can play the notes, but only one can play the feeling.
There are plenty of other fine examples, from Dokken to Pantera, and everywhere in between. If you must unplug, do so only to add something to the song, not to take its balls off, after all-balls are what makes the music "hard!"