No Quarter (song)

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No Quarter
Appears on Houses of the Holy
Published by Superhype Music
Registration ASCAP 440078588
Release date 18 March 1973
Recorded May 1972 at
Island Studios, London.
Mixed at Olympic Studios, London.
Genre Progressive rock, rock
Language English
Length 6 minutes 57 seconds
Composer John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
Label Atlantic Records
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Andy Johns

'No Quarter' is the seventh song on English rock band Led Zeppelin's fifth album Houses of the Holy, released in 1973. It was written by bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant.

Overview

'No Quarter' was recorded in 1972 at Island Studios, London. It was engineered by Andy Johns and also mixed by Johns at Olympic Studios, London. The version that made it onto the album evolved out of a faster version they had recorded earlier at Headley Grange, an old mansion in East Hampshire, England.[1] Jimmy Page applied vari-speed to drop the whole song a semi-tone, in order to give it a thicker and more intense mood.[2] The guitar solo effect was achieved by direct injection and compression.[3] The song features a brief Shepard scale at the close of the solo section at around the 4 minute 45 second mark.

Jones used a Hohner Electra-Piano. An EMS VCS3 was utilised to create the underwater 'wobble' effect on 'No Quarter'. Jones ran the audio signal of the Hohner piano through the filter, and modulated the filter with a sine-wave LFO. This made the filter rise and fall rapidly, creating a shifting tone not unlike a phaser, or Leslie speaker.

The title is derived from the military practice of showing no mercy to captured enemy. This military theme is captured in several of the song's lyrics. In Led Zeppelin's motion picture The Song Remains the Same, 'No Quarter' was the thematic music behind Jones' personal fantasy sequence, in which he played a haunting masked horseman roaming the graveyards. Jimmy Page also used a short segment of theremin as an added sound effect while playing the song live, as can additionally be seen in the film.

Live performances

From 1973 'No Quarter' became a centrepiece at Led Zeppelin concerts, being played at virtually every show the band performed until 1980 (it was eventually discarded on their final tour 'Over Europe' in that year).[4] The song took on a very mysterious texture on stage as many lights and simulated fog were used.

During live performances Jones would showcase his skills as a pianist, frequently improvising on keyboards and playing parts of classical music. On the band's ninth North American tour in 1973, performances of the song lasted twice the length of the studio version. On Led Zeppelin's concert tours from 1975 onwards, Jones would also play a short piano concerto (on a grand piano) frequently turning the seven-minute song into a performance exceeding twenty minutes, with Page and Bonham always joining him later in the song. He was particularly fond of playing Sergei Rachmaninoff pieces, but sometimes included Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. One version of the song, recorded at the Kingdome in Seattle in 1977, lasted thirty-six minutes, where, after the piano solo, Jones led the group into an R&B based jam, as a prelude to the guitar solo proper (similar versions can also be heard on the Destroyer bootleg CD, or bootleg DVDs of the concerts at Knebworth in 1979.)

During live performances, Jones initially used a Fender Rhodes piano. To create the swirling 'underwater' sound of 'No Quarter' in concert, he fed the Rhodes through a Maestro phase shifter. This phaser, the PS-1A, was a simple, but large pedal effect, developed by Oberheim Electronics. Jones placed it on top of the keyboard, where it could be operated by hand. He preferred to play both keyboards and bass with no effects, but needed the Maestro to recreate the mysterious piano sound of the album.

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant recorded a version of the song in 1994, ironically without Jones, released on their album No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded. Robert Plant played a radically different version of the song as the opening number on his solo tour in 2005, as is included on the DVD release Soundstage: Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation. 'No Quarter' was also a central part of Jones' own solo concerts between 1999 and 2002. 'No Quarter' was performed at Led Zeppelin's reunion show at the O2 Arena, London on 10 December 2007.

Credits

Personnel
  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
    • Robert Plant – vocals
    • John Paul Jones – Hohner Electra-Piano, EMS VCS3, bass guitar
    • John Bonham - drums, percussion
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Andy Johns – engineer, mixing
    • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
    • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)

References

  1. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 63. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  2. Tolinksi, Brad and Greg Di Benedetto (January 1998). "Light and Shade: A Historic Look at the Entire Led Zeppelin Catalogue Through the Eyes of Guitarist/Producer/Mastermind Jimmy Page". Guitar World: 101. ISSN 1045-6295.
  3. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 63. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  4. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 64. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1.