Led Zeppelin – No Quarter (Tarantura TCD-521~3)

No Quarter (Tarantura TCD-521~3)

Earl’s Court Arena, London, England – May 18th, 1975

Disc 1:  Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir, No Quarter

Disc 2:  Tangerine, Going To California, That’s The Way, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick

Disc 3:  Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog

At least three audience recordings are extant for Led Zeppelin’s May 18th concert at Earl’s Court Arena.  A forty-minute source surfaced on vinyl and was released on No Quarter (Red Devil), whose title and label name has been recycled several times in its publishing history.  The second, excellent quality source surfaced on the excellent Complete Earl’s Court Arena (IM-012/014).  The third was used for older releases on Tarantura (Argenteum Astrum, (NQ 1 ~ 4)), Antrabata (the underrated Arabesque & Baroque – The Second Night (ARM 180575)), and The Diagrams Of Led Zeppelin (Red Devil (TDOLZ Vol. 76) in a gorgeous package). 

No Quarter, the latest version released by Tarantura in November, is a three source mix like Empress Valley’s version from their Demand Unprecedented box set, but the editing is not improvident but well thought out and Tarantura presents what is arguably the definitive version of this show.  The majority of Tarantura consists of the second tape source with the other two filling in the gaps which are generally very small and consists for the most part with Robert Plant’s introductions before various songs.  For the main source used, it is longer than previous editions with the end of “Moby Dick” finally surfacing.  Overall this is a very good to excellent, three-dimensional recording with good dynamics capturing the event beautifully.

The acoustics of the venue lend a heavy echo which only adds to Zeppelin’s already powerful set list.  The audience recordings from this set of shows provide a detailed glimpse into the spectacle.  After Radio 1 DJ Johnny Walker says, “you’ve waited a long time” someone by the taper replies “you’re fucking right!”  The set list is the same as from the American tour but with “Tangerine” and an acoustic set thrown in offering an even more comprehensive statement of their life’s work. 

And this concert also received favorable reviews in the British music press with Sounds printing the review “This Gig Is Scarred On My Brain For Life” by Pete Mankowski where he calls this the “ultimate in rock” and Melody Maker reviewing this as the “definitive rock performance”.  The first of the Earl’s Court concerts has some problems and the band sound nervous, but the second is in general a much better performance with a more confident delivery. 

The opening songs “Rock And Roll” and “Sick Again” sound a bit sluggish but “Over The Hills And Far Away” sounds amazing in this recording.  The cavernous acoustics bring out the power in the old “You’re A Better Man Than I” guitar solo.  This show has rightly singled out “No Quarter” as the title track.  Some versions from the previous US tour sounded meandering but this version is confidant and a masterpiece of construction lasting twenty minutes.

“Tangerine” is introduced as the first time Zeppelin attempted four-part harmony.  The virtue of the audience recordings is that one can actually hear the harmony which is absent from the better-known soundboard tapes.  Like many audience tapes the acoustic set sounds crystal clear and is a nice added touch by the band in the middle of their electric crunch.  “Dazed & Confused,” sounds great in this recording as does the finale “Stairway To Heaven”. 

Aftwards an audience member can be heard gushing about the laser show and comparing it to Pink Floyd.  Zeppelin follows with the standard encores, “Whole Lotta Love” followed by the theremin battle and funk exercises segueing perfectly into “Black Dog”.  Tarantura use the cover of the Red Devil vinyl release on front of a four-fold cardboard gatefold sleeve.  Inside is a collage of famous photographs from the Earl’s Court concerts with the set list printed on the inside. 

No Quarter is another great release by this label who have been releasing excellent versions of well known tapes and this is the best version yet of the second night of Zeppelin’s massive concerts in Earl’s Court.  Tarantura is set to release another version of No Quarter with two additional discs bringing the total up to five discs.  The content of the two discs isn’t known and will be reviewed when they are finally heard.

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  1. When someone mentions Earls Court we all automatically think of the 24th and the 25th because they’re available in pristine soundboard quality. I for one have never given the 18th a fair shake and a concentrated listen until now. Man was I missing out all this time! This recording is a great audience recording which fully captures the essence of live Led Zeppelin and due to it’s clarity the listener is transported back in time to enjoy this show with all of the lucky ones who were actually in attendance. Tarantura has done a fine job with this release and the lack of hiss makes it much more enjoyable. Part of this could be that the masters were supposedly used for this release. Now let’s get down to the real meat and potatoes of this release.

    Disc 1 starts with the introduction which is short and to the point. Whoever the person is who is blowing the whistle needs to have it placed somewhere which would make it uncomfortable for them to sit down. It’s rather annoying. “Rock and Roll” hits with full force and we hear a band that means business. “Sick Again” is rather grooving tonight and Bonham is definitely deep in the pocket which is exactly where he was most comfortable. “Over The Hills And Far Away” is up next and is a good version. Robert has a tough time with some of the notes but overall he was still more than capable of making a go at it. “In My Time Of Dying” sounds rather lazy but is still a decent version. “The Song Remains The Same” seems to seamlessly switch sources (1:16 – 1:30) which could be due to a tape flip in the main source. The band plays “Rain Song” with a lot of feeling and it sets the mood for “Kashmir” to bring things back up. The first hit of “Kashmir” sounds really powerful on this release. Immediately after the last note of “Kashmir” the source changes again for about 10 seconds then fades out at the 9:33 mark.

    “Tangerine” is the lead-off track for disc 2 of this set. This recording really brings out the background harmony vocals in this song. The whistle guy makes his presence known again right at the end of this song. Jimmy Page’s fingerpicking style is captured nicely in this recording. Every note is crystal clear and the reverb of the venue adds some extra beauty to the notes. Right after the end of “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” Robert makes a Monty Python reference by saying “We are the knights that say “Ni”. This gets a good applause from the crowd. “Trampled Underfoot” is played at a slower tempo but definitely still grooves. 22 minutes of “Moby Dick” rounds out disc 2. During the timpani solo Bonzo treats us to renditions of the “Dazed And Confused” and “Whole Lotta Love” riffs. Around the 20:10 mark there seems to be a source change. Mr. Whistle is back as well. Overall the drum solo is enjoyable and doesn’t get as boring as others he performed.

    Disc 3 begins with a great version of “Dazed And Confused.” The “Woodstock” section of this version really sets the mood for a particularly spooky bow solo section. It’s pretty amazing how quiet the audience is during this section. That just shows you how different the UK audiences are from the rowdy American audiences. There’s not one firecracker exploding during this section. The lack of hiss definitely adds to the overall mood of this recording. After “Stairway To Heaven” someone close to the taper mentions something about a Pink Floyd concert. There’s a fade out at 12:41 which is during the audience cheering at the end of “Stairway.” There’s not one thing about this release that I can complain about. The sound is excellent and that’s the most important thing. This release is by far the best version of this show to date and I highly recommend picking this one up.


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