Classic Rock Review

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No Quarter – Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded DVD (1994)

51y9L+tElFLFrom amazon.com

Review Ex-Led Zeppelin vocalist and lyricist Robert Plant always said that the true spirit of Led Zeppelin as represented within a single song was more evident in “Kashmir” than it was in AOR standby classic tracks like “Rock & Roll” and “Black Dog”; the notion that a hard rock blues-based band of English white boys who practically invented the heavy metal music genre could in fact be considered the godfathers of “World Beat” music a full generation before Peter Gabriel came along is conveniently overlooked by Western rock music fans, as is the notion that the principles of Eastern music (in terms of Indian and Arabic theories and applications) were far more prevalent within Led Zeppelin’s work than that of the Beatles, typically more associated with Indian music thanks to George Harrison’s association with Ravi Shankar.

This outstanding live performance recorded 10 years ago as of this writing is a fantastic example of Plant’s opinion and the Led Zeppelin vision of musical exploration gloriously realized. As detailed within the interview included with this DVD’s bonus features, Plant and guitarist/co-songwriter Jimmy Page chose a set that lent itself well to a broad interpretation and that reflected less the brute force of the riff-driven heavy metal classic tracks that permeate albums such as “Led Zeppelin II” and their self-titled 4th album (although “Four Sticks” and a wild reinterpretation of “When The Levee Breaks” are included) and more of the songs crafted as introspective compositions from “Led Zeppelin III” and “Houses Of The Holy”.

This is not Led Zeppelin in their prime; that would be “How The West Was Won”. And in truth John Paul Jones’ absence is much lamented by this listener as he may well have been the best musician in the band and was the unifying force keeping them together during their last years…but the musicians filling in for him and the late John Bonham are certainly competent and their absence tugs at the sentiment of the heart rather than the sensitivity of the ear.

But for me the accompanying musicians are what really makes this set go. This is not a case of adding an extra guitarist (i.e., Pat Smear from the “Nirvana: MTV Unplugged” concert); the musicians added to this performance play every thing from banjo to hurdy-gurdy to native Arabic lutes, in addition to both Western and Eastern string sections as well as Arabic percussion specialists. The culmination of the meshing of musical talents and the melding of musical sensibilities is no better realized than in the epic performance of “Kashmir”, my personal favourite Led Zeppelin song (and perhaps my favourite song by any performer). The song is hardly recognizable as the 8-plus minute classic rock radio staple; it has instead become the living embodiment of the spirit of the band and with its new energy surpasses the original studio recording whose orchestral sounds were generated from an early synthesizer (by John Paul Jones); the energy and the determination exhibited by the lead and supporting musicians during its performance is thoroughly inspiring and worthy of one of the finest performances in contemporary rock history.

This is a tremendous sampling of a band broken down to its most musical elements. Not specifically rock, folk, or even acoustic. Just evidence of the work of one of the finest bands to ever record. All the elements are there; you owe it to yourself to partake of them.

Review Well, Sir Robert and James Page have done it again!

This time, in a re-release of MTV’s 1994 Special UnLedded Page and Plant video, the full beauty of Robert’s voice, and Jimmy Page and his mastery of guitar legend abound.

It is replete with wonderful moments, such as Gallows Pole, featuring Jimmy playing one of his own Black Mountainside Brand custom acoustic guitars, Friends, a fabulous, exotic song from Zep III, and a heavy version of THE song, Kashmir, replete with cello phenom Caroline Dale, her entire ensemble of British cellists, Giles, Milne, et al, an Egyptian string ensemble, (with monstrously talented Egyptian violin soloist Wael Abu Bakr) doing lead violin solo, and Jimmy playing the 50,000$, multi computerized Gibson Les Paul Transperformance guitar – capable of instantaneously moving and retuning to nearly 100 different modal tunings real time- with relish. Jimmy has that device down to a science. Kashmir is simply still astonishing and brings tears to the eyes delivered like this. Power and glory abound here.

There is EVEN Page/Plant/Jones and Lee, doing a parody of Dred Zeppelins’ (Nobody’s Fault) doing a parody of Led Zep. How about that for turnabout? All in good fun of course. It’s even dumbed down to Dreds level for extra gusto.

The other piece de resistance’ is No Quarter, the beginning song, filmed outdoors, in the woods, in Wales, with Jimmy doing a totally re-worked No quarter in modal 12 string, acoustic, and Robert handling his own array of black boxes (on his lap) through which he does misty mountain hopping special FX for his voice, in real time. THIS is priceless.

There are a few (very few) weak spots here and there, but after all, these guys are middle aged fellows, like many of us, here, and none of us are what we were when we were 25. And Bonham’s presence is noticeable at times. Thank You could have been a better take.

But on the whole, this is thrilling music, with enormous scope, big time arrangements, TOP talent doing backup roles. The hurdy gurdy, rich mandolins, and violas and Bodhran add especially flavourful ethnic mixes to the final product. It is exciting, fresh, and full of new twists. I loved the jam with the musicians in Morrocco. And in Marrackech, that anthem, with Pagey doing the moonwalk, is just plain loud fun.

Where Pagey gets these special effects is anyone’s guess. He never runs out of new ideas, or new gear. No one, save perhaps Gilmour, knows more about the technical end of guitar, electronics, FX, cutting edge tech, and the like. These two fellows have pushed the state of the guitar ahead 100 years… if only there were people behind them picking up where they left off. As long as that is not the case, WE need JP showing us the way..

SIBLY is again, great. If you liked Led Zep, I dare say you will probably love this video. It is worth watching and keeping. You won’t find another live rock band like this for another hundred years or more. And with this high calibre of musicians backing them up, you won’t see a show like this again. That much is assured. Guaranteed.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | No Quarter - Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded | , | Leave a comment