No Quarter (song)

No Quarter (song)
"No Quarter"
Song by Led Zeppelin from the album Houses of the Holy
Released 28 March 1973
Recorded 1972
Genre Psychedelic rock, progressive rock
Length 7:00
Label Atlantic
Writer Jones/Page/Plant
Producer Jimmy Page
Houses of the Holy track listing
"D'yer Mak'er"
"No Quarter"
"The Ocean"
Audio sample
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"No Quarter" is a song by Led Zeppelin that appears on their album, Houses of the Holy, released in 1973. It was written by bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant.



"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 Led Zeppelin 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.[1] The song features a brief Shepard scale at the close of the solo section at around the 4:45 mark.

The title is derived from the military practice of showing no mercy to a vanquished opponent. This military theme is captured in several of the song's lyrics.

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).[1] 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 Rachmaninoff pieces, but sometimes included Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez which had inspired Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain. One version of the song, visually recorded (and available on sites such as YouTube) at the Kingdome in Seattle in 1977, lasted thirty-six minutes, where, after the piano solo, Jones led the group into a blues 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.)

In Led Zeppelin's concert film 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 movie.

Page and 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.

Record producer Rick Rubin has remarked on the song's structure, "It takes such confidence to be able to get really quiet and loose for such a long time. [Led] Zeppelin completely changed how we look at what popular music can be."[3]


Cover versions

Album versions

  • 1989: I Love Ethyl (The Song Retains the Name)
  • 1993: Crowbar (Crowbar)
  • 1993: Moving Targets (Last of the Angels)
  • 1994: Kasia Kowalska (Gemini)
  • 1994: Page and Plant (No Quarter: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded)
  • 1995: Dread Zeppelin (No Quarter Pounder)
  • 1996: Killdozer & Ritual Device ("When the Levee Breaks" CD single)
  • 1998: Morgaua Quartet (Destruction: Rock Meets Strings)
  • 1999: Great White (Great Zeppelin: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 2000: Tool (Salival)
  • 2000: Violeta De Outono (The Early Years [bonus tracks edition])
  • 2000: various artists (Pickin' on Zeppelin: A Tribute)
  • 2001: Matt Jorgensen & 451 (The Road Begins Here)
  • 2001: Richard DeVinck (Going to California: A Classical Guitarist's Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 2001: Mad Zeppelin (The Song Remains on Stage)
  • 2002: Grave Digger (The Music Remains the Same: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 2002: Star One (Space Metal [Japanese bonus tracks edition])
  • 2002: Maktub (Khronos)
  • 2002: The Section (The String Quartet Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 2002: Quidam (The Time Beneath the Sky)
  • 2002: Motor Industries (The Electronic Tribute To Led Zeppelin)
  • 2003: Lana Lane & Erik Norlander (European Tour 2003)
  • 2003: Tyrrell & Supercreep ("Dope Quarter" single)
  • 2004: Ayreon ("Day Eleven: Love" CD single)
  • 2004: Chris Gavin & Ice-T (Stairway to Rock: (Not Just) a Led Zeppelin Tribute)
  • 2004: Jezz Woodroffe (In Through the Swing Door: Swing Cover Versions of Led Zeppelin Classics)
  • 2004: Chemystry Set (Live at the Sweatlodge)
  • 2004: Classic Rock String Quartet (The Led Zeppelin Chamber Suite: A Classic Rock Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 2005: Exhumed (Garbage Daze Re-Regurgitated)
  • 2005: Sly and Robbie (The Rhythm Remains the Same: Sly & Robbie Greets Led Zeppelin)
  • 2006: The Flaming Lips (At War with the Mystics 5.1)
  • 2006: Hookslide (Bump It Up)
  • 2006: Nuspirit Helsinki (Rewind! 5)
  • 2006: Franck Tortiller & Orchestre National de Jazz (Close to Heaven: A Led Zeppelin Tribute)
  • 2006: Michael Armstrong (Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Led Zeppelin)
  • 2007: Dark Castle (Flight of Pegasus)
  • 2007: Invisigoth (Alcoholocaust)
  • 2007: Letz Zep (Letz Zep II: Live in London)
  • 2008: Gov't Mule (Holy Haunted House [recorded live 2007])
  • 2008: Flametal (Master of the Aire [Japanese bonus tracks edition])


  • 1997: Apollo 440 ("Electro Glide in Blue")
  • 2002: Kallabris ("Kalkwater")
  • 2010: Bun B ("Gladiator")

Live versions

  • 2010: Black Country Communion - 30 December 2010 - London Shepherd's Bush Empire
  • 2011: Phish - 1 June 2011 - PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ
  • 2011: Phish - 3 July 2011 - Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, NY
  • 2011: Phish - 17 August 2011 - UIC Pavilion, Chicago, IL


  • Lewis, Dave (2004) The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9
  • Welch, Chris (1998) Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused: The Stories Behind Every Song, ISBN 1-56025-818-7


  1. ^ a b c Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
  2. ^ Brad Tolinski and Greg Di Bendetto, "Light and Shade", Guitar World, January 1998.
  3. ^ The Playlist Special: Fifty Artists Pick Their Personal Top 10s. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2 January 2011.

External links

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