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Ranking The 1975 Versions Of "No Quarter"


Bonzo_fan
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For this week's episode of my podcast, Rock Talk with Dr. Cropper, I ranked every 1975 version of "No Quarter" -- all 38 for which he have at least a partial recording, that is.  I covered the 1975 shows in full last year, so I figured I would increase the zoom on my microscope and focus on one particular song to rank as I listened to the shows on their anniversaries this year.  In addition to making detailed notes for each version as I went along, I transcribed each of Plant's introductions and recorded the length of each version.  I've been working on this since early January, so I'm excited to finally be able to share it with you all!

I see a clear separation between the "Mt. Rushmore" of my list and the other 34, and I think you can order those four any way you like based on personal preference.

The links are below for those interested 😊 I've also included a bar graph I made documenting the evolution of its length over the course of the year 🤓

Applehttps://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/rock-talk-with-dr-cropper/id1518703647#episodeGuid=Buzzsprout-8206579

Spotify

 

Buzzsprout for those without access to either of the above: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1119254/8206579

  1. March 21 - Seattle
  2. March 20 - Vancouver
  3. March 19 - Vancouver
  4. March 12 - Long Beach
  5. March 27 - Los Angeles
  6. March 5 - Dallas
  7. March 3 - Fort Worth
  8. February 8 - Philadelphia
  9. January 31 - Detroit
  10. February 28 - Baton Rouge
  11. May 25 - London
  12. May 18 - London
  13. February 13 - Uniondale
  14. March 25 - Los Angeles
  15. May 17 - London
  16. March 17 - Seattle
  17. February 6 - Montreal
  18. March 14 - San Diego
  19. March 11 - Long Beach
  20. May 23 - London
  21. February 16 - St. Louis
  22. January 20 - Chicago
  23. February 12 - New York
  24. February 14 - Uniondale
  25. January 29 - Greensboro
  26. January 24 - Cleveland
  27. January 12 - Brussels
  28. March 10 - San Diego
  29. March 24 - Los Angeles
  30. May 24 - London
  31. February 10 - Landover
  32. February 7 - New York
  33. February 4 - Uniondale
  34. February 3 - New York
  35. January 25 - Indianapolis
  36. January 22 - Chicago
  37. March 4 - Dallas (massive cut in the midsection -- what we have sounds interesting)
  38. January 21 - Chicago (only two minutes at the beginning survive)

75NQlengths.jpeg

Edited by Bonzo_fan
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Another good topic.  I rarely listen to January shows, although Detroit is a pretty good version.  From North America, in order (first to last):

3/25/1975 LA:  Great, up-tempo version
3/21/1975 Seattle:  Just a shade behind 2nd night in LA
3/12/1975 Long Beach:  Unique version, almost has a tribal beat
3/20/1975 Vancouver:  Another great, fast-paced West Coast version with some unique touches
3/19/1975 Vancouver:  Almost as good as the next night
3/14/1975 San Diego:  Long, unique version
2/13/1975 Nassau:  Outstanding Feb version
3/3/1975 Fort Worth:  Another unique version, hints of the long San Diego version
3/17/1975 Seattle:  The start of the up-tempo West Coast versions
2/14/1975 Nassau:  A little behind the previous night
2/6/1975 Montreal:  Great version from their first great night of the tour
2/16/1975 St Louis:  Beautiful version, shows what a roll they were on as the first leg ended
2/8/1975 Philadelphia:  Great version from great, fluid night for Page
2/12/1975 NYC:  Solid version from a fun show
2/4/1975 Nassau: Sounds like a great version, despite the poor recording
3/11/1975 Long Beach:  Slightly subdued version, but very nice
3/10/1975 San Diego:  Cool, gloomy vibe
3/4/1975 Dallas:  Sadly cut, sounds like it could have been great (hints of Fort Worth)
3/5/1975 Dallas:  Page does some cool things here, but overall there's just something disconnected about it
3/27/1975 LA:  2nd longest NA version, comes close to being great but like most of the LA run can't finish the job
3/24/1975 LA:  Used to have a higher opinion of this one, it's hurt by the recent soundboard
2/10/1975 Landover:  I like the audience version, nice wintry vibe, it's actually one of the few songs that holds up on the soundboard (very sloppy night overall)
2/28/1975 Baton Rouge:  Overrated, like the show as a whole
2/7/1975 NYC:  Kind of unremarkable
2/3/1975 NYC:  Ditto

The Earl's Court versions are all interesting, but come up short to NA in general, esp. the West Coast shows.  In no particular order:  I find myself listening to the 24th and 25th the most, because of the soundboards, but the playing is excellent.  The 17th is a unique version, very reminiscent of the '77 versions.  The 23rd has some unique aspects with the strat, and the 18th highlights Page's most fluid night of these shows.
 

Edited by JohnOsbourne
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I see the gauntlet has been thrown. Both of your lists look close to what my list would look like but I might have to do a thorough re-listen to every 1975 NQ before I submit a ranking.

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@JohnOsbourne Interesting to see March 25 at the top of your list!  It's an interesting version for sure, but I've never found it as tight as the four you have below it, which of course are my top four.  I'm surprised you have March 5 so low, especially beneath March 4 when most of its midsection is missing.  I was actually kind of shocked at how good the March 5 version is when I put it under the microscope for this episode -- one of Jones' best solos IMO.

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7 hours ago, Strider said:

I see the gauntlet has been thrown. Both of your lists look close to what my list would look like but I might have to do a thorough re-listen to every 1975 NQ before I submit a ranking.

Sounds good!  That will be quite a task -- it took me over three hours to listen to the LA and Earls Court versions all in one go this week ahead of their anniversaries 😅 Looking forward to seeing yours :popcorn2:  

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4 hours ago, Walesdad said:

A piece that the band played that, for me, never got tedious and was always enjoyable to hear. In my opinion, 1975 was the peak for this atmospheric monster of a live set piece.

Agreed.  It hardly, if ever, sounded awful.  1975 was the sweet spot for it in my opinion as well.

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22 minutes ago, Bonzo_fan said:

@JohnOsbourne Interesting to see March 25 at the top of your list!  It's an interesting version for sure, but I've never found it as tight as the four you have below it, which of course are my top four.  I'm surprised you have March 5 so low, especially beneath March 4 when most of its midsection is missing.  I was actually kind of shocked at how good the March 5 version is when I put it under the microscope for this episode -- one of Jones' best solos IMO.

Sure, the 25th is loose like all of LA, but to me it hits all the right spots, it's got the best of where they were taking the song at the end of the tour.  I really want to like the March 5th version because Page throws in some neat tricks there.  But it just doesn't completely come together for some reason.  I may be biased towards the 4th, since for a very long time it was the only soundboard from '75 NA.  Fort Worth's is the best of the Texas shows.  (Overall the best of TX as well, very improvisational for '75, and great drumming from Bonham.)

Edited by JohnOsbourne
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That March 25/75 "No Quarter" kicks ass, arguably the best of the 'jazzy' versions- JPJ switches back to the Rhodes from the Grand piano halfway through Page's solo and lays down some Herbie Hancockesque shit for sure. The Earls Court NQ's IMO are boring compared to those late March jazz excursions...

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I don't think I can rank them all because of how much they changed when the grand piano was introduced.  So I would rank them in two groups, pre 2-28 and 2-28 and later.

I prefer the grand piano sound, and how it provides contrast with the opening section, especially given how many excellent recordings exist.  I enjoy jazz piano trios from the 50s and 60s, and I like how Jones and Bonham get into those angular, percussive jazz grooves in the grand piano versions.  So different from the pre 2-28 versions.

Ranking these is still very difficult because there are so many superb versions.  As I listen to them, I get into whichever version I am listening to, and I wonder, how can I really say if this one or that one is better?

I always used to think March 25 or 27 was my favorite and upon review I think they still are.  March 25 with an edge there.   But then again March 27 has some parts they give it an edge.  March 21 is amazing, particularly the bit of avante-garde piano Jones gets into just before the vocals return.  That is unique indeed. 

 

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I think the jazz/piano comments above nicely explain why I don't love the Earl's Court versions like I do Feb/Mar.  Earl's Court doesn't have the jazzy feel of the West Coast, but it also lacks the dark feel from the first leg of the tour.  The Earl's Court versions are still great and very much worth listening too, just not as good as the US versions earlier in the year.

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2 hours ago, JohnOsbourne said:

I think the jazz/piano comments above nicely explain why I don't love the Earl's Court versions like I do Feb/Mar.  Earl's Court doesn't have the jazzy feel of the West Coast, but it also lacks the dark feel from the first leg of the tour.  The Earl's Court versions are still great and very much worth listening too, just not as good as the US versions earlier in the year.

Agree however Jimmy's solos on both May 18th & the 23rd are otherworldly. His use of the Strat those two times makes one wonder why he did not continue to use the Strat for both OTHAFA & NQ. Jimmy is no slouch on March 25th, he is a man possessed but I still prefer those two EC dates in regard to Jimmy but only by a slight edge.

For me I agree that with all things considered March 25th is one of the best versions, everything comes together so perfectly.

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54 minutes ago, BobDobbs said:

Agree however Jimmy's solos on both May 18th & the 23rd are otherworldly. His use of the Strat those two times makes one wonder why he did not continue to use the Strat for both OTHAFA & NQ. Jimmy is no slouch on March 25th, he is a man possessed but I still prefer those two EC dates in regard to Jimmy but only by a slight edge.

For me I agree that with all things considered March 25th is one of the best versions, everything comes together so perfectly.

Sure.  He obviously uses the strat on the 23rd, but is it certain he also uses it on the 18th?  I've seen this claimed many times, but I can't really hear it (nothing obvious like tremolo on the 23rd).

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2 hours ago, JohnOsbourne said:

Sure.  He obviously uses the strat on the 23rd, but is it certain he also uses it on the 18th?  I've seen this claimed many times, but I can't really hear it (nothing obvious like tremolo on the 23rd).

I can tell by the tone on both days compared to others. The Strat has that laser sharp, single coil tone compared to the more ballsy tone of the LP dual-coil humbuckers. Page was never big into using the trem even when his guitars were equipped so the 23rd is a real treat. A Strat is, IMO a more forgiving instrument to play as well compared to a LP. Only real issue with a Strat in 75' was this is pre-Floyd Rose and locking nuts so going full EVH on one is not recommended unless you are someone like Hendrix who could both play AND re-tune his guitar mid song. This is why I figure Page never really went hog wild (along with most of his contemporaries) with a trem when playing live.

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On 3/25/2021 at 10:59 PM, JohnOsbourne said:

Sure, the 25th is loose like all of LA, but to me it hits all the right spots, it's got the best of where they were taking the song at the end of the tour.  I really want to like the March 5th version because Page throws in some neat tricks there.  But it just doesn't completely come together for some reason.  I may be biased towards the 4th, since for a very long time it was the only soundboard from '75 NA.  Fort Worth's is the best of the Texas shows.  (Overall the best of TX as well, very improvisational for '75, and great drumming from Bonham.)

On 3/27/2021 at 4:39 PM, JohnOsbourne said:

Been revisiting a lot of these, I have to say, the March 27th LA version really is very good, it deserves to come up a few slots, definitely above both Dallas versions in my rankings.

It's not really the looseness of the 25th that kept me from putting it higher -- I love the version from the 27th, after all.  It just feels a bit less focused, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I view it more in the "curiosity" category, along with 3/14 San Diego, than the all-time great category.  It's certainly interesting and unique with Jones teasing so many of the grooves he'd used over the course of the preceding month and switching back to the Rhodes halfway through the jam.

That's interesting you feel that way about March 5 -- I actually found it to be one of the best of the month for group chemistry/being a real team effort.  One of Jones' best piano solos too IMO, and he returns to the motif he began his solo with when he switches back to the Rhodes at the very end of the jam -- love attention to detail like that!  March 4 does sound like an interesting version, but it's so substantially cut I have a hard time ranking it ahead of the complete versions.  I agree that Fort Worth is the best of the Texas shows and a top 10 show of '75, and yes, very improvisational and probably Bonham's best night of the year.  I think March 5 is much closer to Fort Worth than it is to March 4 though.  For NQ it was really close between 3/3 and 3/5 as you can see.  I gave 3/5 the edge for how awesome Jones' piano solo was.

Glad you feel the same way about March 27.  To me Page retains a great sense of plot throughout that solo, and the minute or so surrounding the motif from the studio version gives me chills every time.  It also has one of Jones' best and most focused solos, and the greatest of all the Jones-Bonham grooves IMO.

On 3/26/2021 at 8:48 AM, JohnOsbourne said:

I think the jazz/piano comments above nicely explain why I don't love the Earl's Court versions like I do Feb/Mar.  Earl's Court doesn't have the jazzy feel of the West Coast, but it also lacks the dark feel from the first leg of the tour.  The Earl's Court versions are still great and very much worth listening too, just not as good as the US versions earlier in the year.

Completely agree.  Even though the May 18 version has some really technically great playing, the whole just doesn't seem to become greater than the sum of its parts in the same way to me.

1 hour ago, JohnOsbourne said:

Just listened to Baton Rouge, should probably give it more credit than I have, it's a nice, compact version (19 minutes being compact for '75).  

Yeah, it is.  Tight and powerful little version.  I mentioned in the episode that Baton Rouge and Fort Worth both have climaxes to the jam somewhat similar to that of June 21, 1977.

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On 3/26/2021 at 1:20 AM, Nutrocker said:

That March 25/75 "No Quarter" kicks ass, arguably the best of the 'jazzy' versions- JPJ switches back to the Rhodes from the Grand piano halfway through Page's solo and lays down some Herbie Hancockesque shit for sure. The Earls Court NQ's IMO are boring compared to those late March jazz excursions...

It's a very interesting version, but I have to rank it sixth of the jazzy versions.  Kind of surprised to see it basically a consensus #1 in the comments here.  Completely agree as far as West Coast > Earls Court.

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On 3/26/2021 at 8:32 AM, John M said:

I don't think I can rank them all because of how much they changed when the grand piano was introduced.  So I would rank them in two groups, pre 2-28 and 2-28 and later.

I prefer the grand piano sound, and how it provides contrast with the opening section, especially given how many excellent recordings exist.  I enjoy jazz piano trios from the 50s and 60s, and I like how Jones and Bonham get into those angular, percussive jazz grooves in the grand piano versions.  So different from the pre 2-28 versions.

Ranking these is still very difficult because there are so many superb versions.  As I listen to them, I get into whichever version I am listening to, and I wonder, how can I really say if this one or that one is better?

I always used to think March 25 or 27 was my favorite and upon review I think they still are.  March 25 with an edge there.   But then again March 27 has some parts they give it an edge.  March 21 is amazing, particularly the bit of avante-garde piano Jones gets into just before the vocals return.  That is unique indeed. 

 

I initially ranked them by leg as I went along and then merged them at the end.  I almost kept them separate, but decided to give it a go.

I prefer the grand piano versions as well, and definitely favoured them when I merged the lists.

Again, I'm a bit surprised by March 25 ranking at the top for so many of you.  I find it very unique and interesting, but not quite focused enough to be #1.  March 27 I like a lot better, but Page not being as fluid as he is on my "Mt. Rushmore" versions kept it at #5.

March 21 is amazing indeed.  Jones is on fire throughout -- my favourite solo of his, providing great interest throughout the jam, and of course the avante-garde playing in a different key towards the end.  I actually think March 21 is his best show ever.  His bass lines are so creative and aggressive throughout as well.

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On 3/26/2021 at 11:43 AM, BobDobbs said:

Agree however Jimmy's solos on both May 18th & the 23rd are otherworldly. His use of the Strat those two times makes one wonder why he did not continue to use the Strat for both OTHAFA & NQ. Jimmy is no slouch on March 25th, he is a man possessed but I still prefer those two EC dates in regard to Jimmy but only by a slight edge.

For me I agree that with all things considered March 25th is one of the best versions, everything comes together so perfectly.

I find that the whole of the 18th never exceeds the sum of its parts (Page and Bonham being so energetic, Page so fluid) the same way the West Coast versions (and May 25 for that matter) do.  I found the 23rd a bit sluggish at times, despite Page's great soloing.

Again, a bit surprised by the degree of praise for March 25.

On 3/26/2021 at 3:10 PM, BobDobbs said:

I can tell by the tone on both days compared to others. The Strat has that laser sharp, single coil tone compared to the more ballsy tone of the LP dual-coil humbuckers. Page was never big into using the trem even when his guitars were equipped so the 23rd is a real treat. A Strat is, IMO a more forgiving instrument to play as well compared to a LP. Only real issue with a Strat in 75' was this is pre-Floyd Rose and locking nuts so going full EVH on one is not recommended unless you are someone like Hendrix who could both play AND re-tune his guitar mid song. This is why I figure Page never really went hog wild (along with most of his contemporaries) with a trem when playing live.

Very interesting; thanks!

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10 hours ago, Bonzo_fan said:

I'm a bit surprised by March 25 ranking at the top for so many of you.  I find it very unique and interesting, but not quite focused enough to be #1.

I have been thinking about this too, as I go back and listen to all the 1975 versions again.  Perhaps a good deal of the reason I like March 25 so much is that it was among the first few 1975 versions I had.   Back then  I had only  a few 75 versions in my possession, and because there was no internet, I really committed them to memory by listening so many times.  When I hear them today I still recall listening to them long ago and there are so many little moments that take me back.   So in effect my ability to rank all the versions available today is skewed by memories from when I was first exploring the glorious world of the 1975 No Quarter, still to me one of the band's greatest musical triumphs.  I must say the first time I heard one, either 3/25 or 3/27, I was completely amazed and overwhelmed how different it was from the "classic" movie version I had committed to memory over the preceding 10 years or so since 1976. 

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1 hour ago, John M said:

I have been thinking about this too, as I go back and listen to all the 1975 versions again.  Perhaps a good deal of the reason I like March 25 so much is that it was among the first few 1975 versions I had.   Back then  I had only  a few 75 versions in my possession, and because there was no internet, I really committed them to memory by listening so many times.  When I hear them today I still recall listening to them long ago and there are so many little moments that take me back.   So in effect my ability to rank all the versions available today is skewed by memories from when I was first exploring the glorious world of the 1975 No Quarter, still to me one of the band's greatest musical triumphs.  I must say the first time I heard one, either 3/25 or 3/27, I was completely amazed and overwhelmed how different it was from the "classic" movie version I had committed to memory over the preceding 10 years or so since 1976. 

That kind of explains its appeal to me as well.  When I started getting into Zep bootlegs in the early 90's, '75 shows were hard to find, for a while all I had for NQ was the cut Dallas version, Earl's Court (May 24th), and the Feb 12th MSG show.  When I got this LA show, I was blown away by how different it was.  Not long after I got the famous Seattle show and I could better see the evolution of the song, but the March 25th version will always have an edge in sentimental value.

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11 hours ago, John M said:

I have been thinking about this too, as I go back and listen to all the 1975 versions again.  Perhaps a good deal of the reason I like March 25 so much is that it was among the first few 1975 versions I had.   Back then  I had only  a few 75 versions in my possession, and because there was no internet, I really committed them to memory by listening so many times.  When I hear them today I still recall listening to them long ago and there are so many little moments that take me back.   So in effect my ability to rank all the versions available today is skewed by memories from when I was first exploring the glorious world of the 1975 No Quarter, still to me one of the band's greatest musical triumphs.  I must say the first time I heard one, either 3/25 or 3/27, I was completely amazed and overwhelmed how different it was from the "classic" movie version I had committed to memory over the preceding 10 years or so since 1976. 

10 hours ago, JohnOsbourne said:

That kind of explains its appeal to me as well.  When I started getting into Zep bootlegs in the early 90's, '75 shows were hard to find, for a while all I had for NQ was the cut Dallas version, Earl's Court (May 24th), and the Feb 12th MSG show.  When I got this LA show, I was blown away by how different it was.  Not long after I got the famous Seattle show and I could better see the evolution of the song, but the March 25th version will always have an edge in sentimental value.

This makes sense.  I have plenty of shows I favour do to sentimental value, such as 3/27/75.  When I first got into boots I thought longer = better, so naturally 3/27 became my holy grail lol.  It's still a personal favourite even though I know it's not a Top 50 show technically-speaking.  I love those relaxed last night vibes.

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On 3/27/2021 at 4:39 PM, JohnOsbourne said:

Been revisiting a lot of these, I have to say, the March 27th LA version really is very good, it deserves to come up a few slots, definitely above both Dallas versions in my rankings.

Keep listening to it and it will keep climbing in the list:

3/21

3/27

3/12

3/17

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