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Page & Plant produce a thoughtful and mature offering for the adventurous musical palette
on 19 May 2013
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.
Consider also checking out the DVD of the same title, which incorporates all the music on the CD plus more (performances of `The Rain Song', `When the Levee breaks' and `What is and what should never be'); showcases the performances in London, Morocco and Wales; includes interviews with Page & Plant and other extras.