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No Quarter (song)

"No Quarter" is a song by Led Zeppelin that appears on their 1973 album Houses of the Holy. It was written by John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. The song became a centerpiece at all Led Zeppelin concerts thereafter, until their final tour. It appears in both the film versions and both live album versions of The Song Remains the Same released in 1976 and expanded in 2007. It appeared once more in 1994 on Page and Plant's reunion album as the title track. It also appears on Led Zeppelin's 2012 live album Celebration Day, which documented their 2007 reunion performance at the O2 Arena in London. It was re-released in the deluxe edition of Houses of the Holy.

"No Quarter"
Song by Led Zeppelin
from the album Houses of the Holy
Released28 March 1973 (1973-03-28)
StudioIsland, London
Producer(s)Jimmy Page
Audio sample


"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.[4] Jimmy Page applied vari-speed to drop the whole song a semi-tone, in order to give it a thicker and more intense mood.[5] In addition to the pitch change, the album version featured a very highly compressed guitar track, giving it a tone unique to Led Zeppelin. The guitar solo effect was achieved by direct injection and compression.[4]

The title is derived from the military practice of showing no mercy to a vanquished opponent and from the brave act of not asking for mercy when vanquished. This theme is captured in several of the song's lyrics.

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."[6]

Live performancesEdit

From 1973, "No Quarter" became a centerpiece 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]

During live performances Jones frequently improvised on keyboards and performed 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 Steinway B-211 grand piano) frequently turning the seven-minute song into a performance exceeding twenty and sometimes even thirty to thirty-five minutes, in a handful of cases. Page and Bonham would always join him later in the song. He was particularly fond of playing Rachmaninoff pieces, but sometimes included Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez and "Amazing Grace" as part of an extended medley.[7]

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 or highwayman 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, 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, and was played in C minor to accompany Plant's vocals.


In a contemporary review for Houses of the Holy, Gordon Fletcher of Rolling Stone gave "No Quarter" a negative review, calling the track, along with "The Rain Song", as "nothing more than drawn-out vehicles for the further display of Jones' unknowledgeable use of mellotron and synthesizer."[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Shadwick, Keith (2005). Led Zeppelin: The Story of a Band and Their Music 1968–1980 (1st ed.). San Francisco: Backbeat Books. p. 191. ISBN 0-87930-871-0.
  2. ^ a b Christman, Ed (January 9, 2019). "Led Zeppelin At 50: Every Zep Song, Ranked By Revenue Generated". Billboard. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  3. ^ Zaleski, Annie (September 20, 2013). "No. 10: 'No Quarter' – Top 50 Led Zeppelin Songs".
  4. ^ a b c Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
  5. ^ Brad Tolinski and Greg Di Bendetto (January 1998). "Light and Shade". Guitar World.
  6. ^ Colothan, Scott (January 11, 2019). "The 20 greatest Led Zeppelin songs of all time". Planet Rock. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  7. ^ Bream, Jon (2008). Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin: The Illustrated History of the Heaviest Band of All Time. Voyageur Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-61673-149-6.
  8. ^ Fletcher, Gordon (7 June 1973). "Houses of the Holy". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 August 2017.

External linksEdit