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Florence's power lost in setting of Unplugged

Florence + The Machine

MTV Unplugged

(Island)

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MTV's Unplugged series has been around for years although it no longer has the resonance it had in the days when Nirvana and 10,000 Maniacs put the brand on the map. In Nirvana's case, the resulting album was a revelation because the spartan, acoustic approach was so different to the grunge sturm und drang that they were celebrated for.

Fast-forward 20-odd years and it's the turn of one of Britain's biggest exports. Florence Welch has had quite an innings over the past five years and this Unplugged album shows the quality of the material she's had to work with -- from Drumming Song from her first album Lungs to Never Let Me Go, one of the highlights of latest offering Ceremonials.

Both songs lose nothing in their new, pruned guises.

Yet, the album's power is lessened somewhat by the fact that the rearranged songs aren't markedly different to the original versions.

The presence of a 10-part choir adds a pleasing flourish to proceedings, but Welch's vocals are not always capable of serving stripped-back songs as well as they might be. Think about it: a bombastic delivery can cover a multitude of failings.

A surprise arrives in the form of Queens of the Stone Age mainman Josh Homme who duets with Welch on Jackson -- the song made famous by Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter in the 1960s. Disappointingly, Welch and Homme fail to imbue their cover with the sort of gold-dust Nirvana managed with Bowie's The Man Who Sold The World all those years ago, and what's left is a tokenistic cover that could have been so much better.

Key tracks Cosmic Love; Never Let Me Go

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