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Album: Houses Of The HolyReleased: 1973
"No quarter" is a pirate phrase meaning "no mercy." It could also refer to the US Revolutionary War when Great Britain enforced a policy requiring colonial Americans to house British soldiers and offer them food and a bed during the cold of winter. If this policy was refused to a British soldier, this "No Quarter" policy allowed the British soldier to invoke severe punishment (death, sometimes) on the American who refused him. This was only one of the many ways in which Britain attempted to legitimize their treatment of Americans in their effort to interrupt their recapture of the colonies.
Written by bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant, the song showcases Jones' skills as a pianist. The song became a live favorite, with Jones performing it on piano - one of his few moments in the spotlight during Zep sets.
This song became the title track of the 1994 Page and Plant reunion album No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded, an acoustic set by the duo recorded during their concerts for an MTV special. On the 1995 DVD release, the song "No Quarter" opens the set.
The Unledded project was the first time Page and Plant had collaborated in 14 years, and was the closet they had come to reviving Led Zeppelin.
That they chose to name the project after a song much associated with their erstwhile bassist was not appreciated by John Paul Jones, whose biggest complaint was that he was kept out of the loop. Jones found out from a business associate that Page and Plant were working together, but he assumed they were doing new songs. He was on tour in Germany when he saw the MTV concert and realized that they were doing Led Zeppelin songs. When the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jones took a jab at Page and Plant, saying during the ceremony: "I'd like to thank my friends for finally remembering my phone number."
Led Zeppelin started working on this song in 1971, recording early versions during the Led Zeppelin IV
sessions. The version that made it to the album evolved out of a faster version they recorded earlier at Headley Grange, an old mansion in a remote part of England where they wrote and recorded many of their songs, including "Stairway To Heaven
Tool covered this on their 2000 album Salival.
Various Led Zeppelin tribute bands called "No Quarter" have surfaced over the years.
Sublime borrowed a riff from this in their song "Smoke Two Joints." The short-lasting similarities can be heard at 1:07 in "No Quarter" and at 1:09 in "Smoke Two Joints."