Sjak : During the whole career of Adje Vandenberg the acoustic guitar has always played an important role. Just think about the successful Vandenberg singles ‘Burning Heart’ and ‘Different Worlds’, but certainly also don’t forget the ‘Starkers In Tokyo’ album which he recorded during his Whitesnake period. Also during the shows with his new band Vandenberg’s Moonkings there always a spot for an acoustic intermezzo, in which ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ and the Whitesnake classic ‘Sailing Ships’ are played in a fantastic way. Therefore it isn’t really a surprise that Vandenberg’s Moonkings now bring a complete acoustic album to market with this ‘Rugged And Unplugged’ release. It is still somewhat of a daring move as not every rocker will be able to appreciate an entire acoustic album, but if you do it in this way that only deserves respect.
The essence of an acoustic album is the art of keeping the song material interested in a stripped format and both Ad and his great singer Jan Hoving have excellently succeeded in doing just that. The album opens mighty fine with a lovely performance of ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’, which for me belongs to the strongest tracks in the total repertoire of Vandenberg’s Moonkings and therefore it isn’t really surprising that this tune also sounds great in an acoustic setting. The following ‘Sailing Ships’ also sounds really good and as a matter of fact that accounts for all the eight songs that are to be found on this ‘Rugged And Unplugged’, because also the Vandenberg hit ‘Burning Heart’ as well as the other five Vandenberg’s Moonkings’ songs are just sounding plain awesome. This “stripped” versions give singer Jan Hoving a great opportunity to excel and he really grabs that opportunity with both hands. ‘Rugged And Unplugged’ has become a fantastic piece of work, which for me could have lasted somewhat longer than the somewhat scanty duration of little less than half an hour. This acoustic piece of work will definitely not be to the liking of everybody, but that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that the great musicianship of the duo Vandenberg/Hoving is definitely demonstrated in a fantastic way.