Classic Rock Review

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Jimmy Page & Robert Plant No Quarter (1994)


Review Originally released in 1994 `No Quarter’ contains 14 musical pieces, mostly intelligent and imaginative re-works of songs written jointly by Page and Plant and recorded by Led Zeppelin in the 1970s. Most buyers interested in this collection will be Zeppelin fans and very familiar with all the `originals’ from Zep’s back catalogue.

One of the reasons Page and Plant hit it off when they met in 1968 was that they shared wide-ranging musical interests, and their subsequent joint-compositions incorporated ideas from North African and Indian music (check out Page’s frequently unconventional guitar tunings) as well as Mississippi Delta blues, Appalachian mountain music and the folk traditions of the British Isles.

On this album the duo perform some of their best songs with new arrangements backed by 7 musicians playing variously banjo, mandolin, bodhran and hurdy-gurdy as well as bass and percussion. To add further spice to the mix, a traditional Egyptian 11-piece musical ensemble is deployed on many of the tracks, and – on those recorded in Marrakech – 4 Moroccan musicians. To top it all off, the entire string section from The London Metropolitan Orchestra (violins, violas and cellos) guest on a brand new interpretation of the Zep classic `Kashmir’ to close the album.

Some of the songs on the album are performed in front of a live audience and some are studio recordings; some recorded in Marrakech in the open air and some at a cottage in Snowdonia. Overall the result is a very rich musical experience, more complex and varied than any one of Zeppelin’s glorious albums to which this collection will inevitably be compared. One or two songs – `Since I’ve been loving you’, `That’s the way’ and `Battle of Evermore’ – don’t really get the full exotic treatment but are re-worked in a more conventional manner, and improved on nevertheless.

Overall this is a truly excellent and mature piece of work which will appeal to any Zeppelin fan, and also to any open-minded listener with wider musical horizons who wants to hear something a bit different. Production values are exemplary, giving a rich and satisfying sound where no instrument or voice dominates the action, but where everything is in fine balance.

Review Calling this album by the video title of “Unledded,” as a takeoff on “Unplugged,” sorely misses the point of why “No Quarter” is not just Jimmy Page and Robert Plant doing acoustic versions of Led Zeppelin songs.

The primary attraction of this album is the infusion of Eastern rhythms and sounds into their old songs. The Egyptian Ensemble’s percussion section uses instruments you just do not hear on rock ‘n’ roll albums: Dobolla, Duf, Bendir, Reque, Merwas, Nay and Finger Cymbals (for good measure the back up band includes a Bodhran and Hurdy Gurdy). As soon as you hearing the opening of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” you know that there is an exotic twist to these songs this time around. “No Quarter,” “Friends,” “The Battle for Evermore,” “Gallows Pole” and “Four Sticks” all benefit from this fresh approach.

Then, just to make things really interesting, we get the string section of the London Metropolitan Orchestra to come in on the awesome version of “Kashmir” that ends the album. Consequently, the songs were we do not really get the full flavor of this exotic twist, such as “Thank You,” That’s the Way” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” seem a bit out of place. It would be hard to argue that Plant’s voice is everything it once was, but ultimately he is just another instrument on this mix.

I have always appreciated the mixing of musical styles, whether it is Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel using South African influences or Loreena McKennitt blending Celtic and Eastern music together, so I certainly consider “No Quarter” to be in that successful vein. The fact that these are Led Zeppelin songs just makes this album that much better.

Review This album contains a superb and ambitious re-working of some classic Zep songs such as Kashmir, No Quarter and Four Sticks. This is a more mature and refined sound than the original Led Zeppelin songs while retaining the tightness and intensity of the originals.

In the Zep days, the dynamic duo were influenced by Arabic and Indian music to the extent that Page frequently used unconventional guitar tunings in some of his songs. But in this album they have brought their Eastern influences to the forefront by incorporating an Egyptian orchestra. This works exceptionally well with several tracks, which they have taken to new heights and directions.

While remaining grounded in their Blues roots, they also pay homage to their eastern influences by recording informal sessions with Egyptian musicians which adds a touch of simplicity and mysticism.

Plant’s voice is as strong and bluesy as ever (check out Nobody’s Fault But Mine) and Page’s guitar solos are inspired and played from a place “deep down inside” (check out Thank You).

We’re not talking about your average rock-stars here – never content with resting on their laurels, the album bursts with creativity, originality and ambition. From the haunting and vibrant No Quarter to the East-West fusion of Kashmir, P&P inspire, delight and take their classic songs to parts very few rock bands have reached, and beyond.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Jimmy Page & Robert Plant No Quarter | | 1 Comment