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MTV albums -- The music nework's ''Unplugged'' series spawns interest in acoustic records from artists like Paul McCartney and Arrested Development

Anyone who thinks the ”unplugged” phenomenon has run its course doesn’t realize how much money there is in it. Eddie Money, that is. With his latest recording — an ”acoustic EP” called Unplug It In — Mr. Two Tickets to Paradise is using the same gimmick that has taken both Eric Clapton and Mariah Carey to the top of the charts. The major diff: Money didn’t even bother showing up on MTV’s Unplugged — he recorded two acoustic performances in Texas last May and no doubt copped the U-word to enhance sales.

Why not? So far, Clapton’s set has gone triple platinum and earned him a slew of Grammy nominations. Carey also went platinum and scored two Grammy nods. And Paul McCartney’s limited run of Unplugged — The Official Bootleg has officially sold all of its 500,000 copies. Now, after only one album, rap act Arrested Development is set to unplug its next release.

Record company marketing weasels have several reasons to gloat over this new sales opportunity. Production costs are a pittance, good ol’ self- promoting MTV will provide all the publicity they’ll ever need, and if the record stiffs, hey — it wasn’t a real album anyway. Which brings us to a ”coincidence”:

Item One: A Rod Stewart album scheduled for release last fall, then postponed, is now no longer on the Warner Bros. release schedule.

Item Two: A Warner Bros. source confirms that Stewart will tape an Unplugged soon.

Can you make the logical leap?