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Date: Tue, 22 Nov 1994 18:52:25 -0500 From: Jeremy Young To: zeppelin-l@cornell.edu Subject: NME No Quarter review Message-ID: <941122235225@arcola.demon.co.uk> A little belated (from last week's NME). Jeremy 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 records straight. 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 chants. 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.

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