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No Quarter - Robert Plant & Jimmy Page

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Fourteen years of speculation from their fans and occasional sniping between the two former members ended when Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin reconvened their former musical partnership to produce No Quarter. Having long resisted offers from MTV to reform to do an Unplugged show, they finally accepted as part of a deal that also allowed them to visit Morocco to record new material. The album combines the results of both of these projects. The Led Zeppelin material features new arrangements and new instrumentation, including strings, Egyptian musicians and the haunting vocals of British-Asian star Najma Akhtar. The selection of songs is notable for including some of their lesser-known classics and all of the re-arrangements are well thought-out and executed. "Nobody's Fault But Mine" and "No Quarter" are almost completely revamped, and the latter in particular sounds terrific. The four new tracks are not always fully developed as songs--the three recorded with native musicians in Morocco, of which "Yallah" is a highlight, appear to be tantalising fragments of longer jams. Nevertheless, they are always interesting. The fourth track, "Wonderful One", is a moving ballad on which Plant's voice, which throughout the album appears better than ever before, gets yet another chance to shine. --James Swift