Date: Tue, 22 Nov 1994 18:52:25 -0500
From: Jeremy Young
Subject: NME No Quarter review
A little belated (from last week's NME).
EVEN in the sanest of environments, there are but two ways to view
Led Zeppelin. One is as an inspirational, innovative outfit out to
shatter preconceptions with a mind-crumbling hybrid of volume and
rhythms. The second is as a bunch of pissed-up bozos who shagged
underage groupies with evil abandon and who took the whole hoary
sexist RAWK machine into a bloated universe from whence it never
really recovered. And neither did John Bonham.
14 years on from the Zep's (and said drummer's natch) demise, well,
the sweaty thong remains the same. The detractors point to Whitesnake
and wince, while the more positive amongst us listen to Rage Against
The Machine's less than subtle approximation of "Kashmir", or the
Black Crowe's crowded grooves, and say "Aha! Told you so!" Page and
Plant, not surprisingly, err on the side of the latter. 1994 also
finds them insisting that, hey!, there's also been much more of a
global vision element to their music than "Whole Lotta Love"
suggested, and Unledded is the twosome's chance to set various
Primarily recorded for the benefit of the "Unplugged" series, this
collection has ended up as a mish-mash of live recordings, studio
revamps and new creations. Luckily they don't neglect the sillier
elements of their past, reworking mythical monsters such as "The
Battle of Evermore" and "Gallows Pole" which, while displaying
admirably, uh, rustic intentions, end up less finger-in-the-ear than
head-up-the-arse. And by the time you stagger around to the 12-MINUTE
orchestral fandango that is "Kashmir" the temptation to stick on that
C90 of fingers being dragged down blackboards becomes almost
impossible to resist.
And yet...there's something *believable* about all this. It's the way
Page and Plant have pieced together a posse of musicians, from Porl
"Cure" Thompson to Egyptian ensembles, to give "Friends" and
"Nobody's Fault But Mine" an almost charming ethnic twist. It's the
way they've avoided the obvious (no "Black Dog", no "Whole Lotta
Love", no "The Song Remains..."), while refusing to petulantly
disregard all their past. And - most important of all - it's the way
in which Plant wibbles on about Moroccan sunrises and the like, and
actually manages to transfer his wandering moods to the music.
So spanking new material such as "City Don't Cry", "Yallah"and
"Wonderful One" (shucks, Unledded *was* recorded in London, Snowdonia
and Marrakesh) are more Peel-friendly than pill-popping, based as
they are upon tribal beats, slapped acoustic instruments and African
Of course, Unledded does not point the way towards the future and
rarely scales the the emotional heights reached by Nirvana's current
Unplugged opus. But at least they haven't re-done "Bloody Stairway to
Bastard Heaven". For small Percies, let us be thankful.