Jimmy’s recent musical gamble paid off big time. Basically, Plant gave in to the stalemate, taking Page’s actions to mean that if Robert didn’t sing with him again, Page would just keep recording with David Coverdale. Still, it was a surprise to hear that the two were teaming up for an MTV unplugged show, and it wouldn’t be just a one-off gig.
Being 1994, of course, it wasn’t strictly unplugged anymore. No Quarter: Unledded took the songs the two liked most and extended them to include more overt Celtic and Arabic touches. While having Jimmy around was certainly a plus, Plant was definitely calling the shots. The musicians consisted of his touring band, plus a variety of symphonic and Egyptian players. “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” is transformed from a heavy blues to a hurdy-gurdy driven lament, and the “title track” is purely acoustic, devoid of any of John Paul Jones’s influence. “The Battle Of Evermore”, “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “Kashmir” get full orchestral treatments, while “Four Sticks” and “Friends” are expanded to the Eastern sound both envisioned.
A couple of new tunes were recorded live on location in the streets of Marrakesh; “City Don’t Cry” makes the most of traditional Moroccan instruments, and Page turns it up to 11 for “Yallah” while the locals scratch their heads. The best new song, “Wonderful One”, was a descendant of “The Rain Song” and the DADGAD tuning, and left one hoping for more new music like it.
No Quarter: Unledded was a success, but was released the same day as another long-awaited reunion, that of the Eagles, whose own album ended up selling about eight million more copies. One person who might have gotten a kick out of such competition would be John Paul Jones, who famously thanked the other two for remembering his phone number when they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame the following year.
Ten years after its original release, the show appeared on DVD, accompanied by a rejigged version of the album. The track previously known as “Yallah” was retitled “The Truth Explodes”, while the international-only track “Wah Wah” was included, as was “The Rain Song” for the first time. Several tracks were edited from their original length, and “Thank You” was removed completely. (The DVD also includes the onetime B-sides “What Is And What Should Never Be” and “When The Levee Breaks”, neither of which had been on either CD.)
Jimmy Page & Robert Plant No Quarter: Unledded (1994)—3½
2004 reissue: same as 1994, plus 2 extra tracks (and minus 1 track)