Kyle Mahoney – The same year as Muppet Classic Theatre was released, Jim Henson Records released its last album entitled Kermit Unpigged, a pun on the commonly used phrase “unplugged,” meaning acoustic. This album had the Muppets singing duets with various 90s celebrities.
The album has a storyline to it, similar to Bert and Ernie’s Sing Along (1975). Kermit and the rest of the Muppets, except Miss Piggy go to the recording studio to record their latest album and they happen upon Ernestine, the front desk lady played by Lily Tomlin who gives them confusing instructions on how to get to their recording booth. They Muppets all go their separate ways looking for the booth.
Kermit soon gets a call from Miss Piggy who wants to talk about their relationship, which leads to the first song “She Drives Me Crazy.” This was the main song used in advertisements and was the only song to receive a music video featuring a slew of celebrity cameos. After an argument about who drives who crazy more, Piggy hangs up.
A distraught Kermit walks into the recording booth of Vince Gil who helps him forget his issues by just laying back and watching the clouds in the sky by singing the song “Daydream.” In another studio, Rizzo and several rats are playing around when Clifford informs them that the studio belongs to George Benson. He walks in on them and instead of kicking the rodents out, he allows them to stay and sings a duet of “On Broadway” with Clifford and the rats who so happen to live under Broadway.
Kermit comes across a familiar face from The Muppet Show: Linda Ronstadt, who back in 1980 had quite the crush on Kermit. Her feelings are still intact as she politely forces Kermit to sing “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” a sweet, lilting ballad.
Miss Piggy eventually gets to the studio and to no surprise begins looking for Kermit. Instead of finding him, she stumbles into the booth of Ozzy Osbourne. He invites her in and begins to sing “Born to be Wild,” and at first she is hesitant but decides to get into it. Afterward, a hungry Rizzo happens upon “Jimmy’s Buffet” but Gonzo soon tells him the sad truth. Rizzo goes down the hall to a door labeled “Meatloaf” and Gonzo goes inside. Jimmy tells Gonzo about his extraterrestrial adventures through the song “Mr. Spaceman,” perhaps this was part of the inspiration for Muppets from Space.
Next, Kermit finds Don Henley who decides to sing the classic “Bein’ Green” with Kermit. After Don leaves, Kermit is left alone and begins to sing an acoustic version of “Wild Thing” on a ukulele. Animal and Floyd walk in and Animal begins to take control of the song. Floyd takes the vocals and it is one of the last full vocal performances of Floyd by Jerry Nelson (and it’s great).
Floyd and Animal leave and Robin comes in the studio with his uncle. The two decide to enjoy the alone time and sing “Can’t Get Along Without You.” This is once again a beautiful performance by Jerry Nelson and perhaps the best track on the album–a really underrated Muppet song. In the final song, all of the Muppets are finally in the right booth and they record the Beatles classic: “All Together Now.” After the song the Muppets begin to leave as the secretary ask who is paying and they all scatter out of the studio leaving Kermit to pay the bill.
This album is a great example of the vocal performances of the early 90s Muppet performers. Steve Whitmire had perfectly gotten his Kermit down and, as previously stated, it was one of the last singing performances of Jerry Nelson as Robin and Floyd. This also was one of the rare pre-Muppets Tonight performances of Clifford; especially since 1994 was one the heights of Elmo’s popularity.
Kermit Unpigged isn’t one of the most remembered Muppet moments, nor is it the best thing to ever happen to the Muppets. But it is fun, catchy, and a treat to listen to in its entirety or just for one song.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org