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RHINO

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Aubrey Powell
Cast:
Robert Plant, Jimmy Page

Synopsis:
1994 music video produced and performed by former Led Zeppelin lead guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant. Location segments shot in Marrakesh, Morocco and Snowdonia, Wales; the studio portions taped at the London Weekend Television Studios in London. The concert blends rock, classical, folk, and a variety of African and Middle Eastern music and instruments in cover versions of various Led Zeppelin songs. It also features two new pieces, "Wah Wah" and "Yallah." It premiered on MTV on October 12, 1994.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
English Dolby Stereo
Subtitles:
None
Not Closed-captioned

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 10/26/2004

Bonus:
• Interview
• “Black Dog” Bonus Track
• “Moroccan Montage”
• “Most High” Music Video


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


No Quarter: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded (1994)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 30, 2004)

Rumors of a Led Zeppelin reunion have persisted for virtually the entire period since the band’s demise. They broke up when drummer John Bonham died in 1980, and other than a couple of one-off reunions such as at Live Aid in 1985, the three surviving members steadfastly refused to come back formally.

That doesn’t mean we’ve not come very close to a Led Zep reunion. The next best thing materialized in the Nineties via the “Page and Plant” entity. This brought singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page back together; it only omitted bassist John Paul Jones. In a world where Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey now tour as The Who, Page & Plant acts as a de facto Led Zep.

Yeah, there’s a difference since Page & Plant and the two-man Who since the latter leaves out members only because they’re dead while P&P consciously ditched Jones. Nonetheless, P&P is very close to a Led Zep reunion and is probably as close as we’ll ever get to that event.

Shot back in 1994, Quarter presents a live show in which P&P play mostly Zeppelin songs but also toss out a few non-Zep bits. If we go album-by-album, we find nothing from the band’s 1968 debut, but 1969’s Led Zeppelin II gives us “Thank You” plus “What Is and What Never Should Be”. With its more acoustic bent, 1970’s Led Zeppelin III features prominently with four songs: “Gallows Pole”, “That’s the Way”, “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “Friends”. 1971’s Led Zeppelin IV tosses out “The Battle of Evermore”, “Four Sticks” and “When the Levee Breaks”, while 1973’s Houses of the Holy lands us “No Quarter” and “The Rain Song”.

From 1975's double album Physical Graffiti, we find "Kashmir", while 1977's Presence presents "Nobody's Fault But Mine". Nothing off of 1980's swansong In Through the Out Door pops up, but we get four then-new songs written by Page and Plant: "City Don't Cry", "The Truth Explodes", "Wah Wah", and "Wonderful One".

Much of Quarter depicts a performance in front of a small studio crowd, but some exceptions occur. A few songs show the musicians out in the wilds of Wales, while others feature Page and Plant in the Moroccan community. Another song comes from a public square concert they did in Morocco. These changes help spice up the visual presentation.

Also referred to as “Unledded”, No Quarter looks like it’ll be another entry in the “Unplugged” format so popular in the early to mid Nineties. While the show offers a restrained visual presentation, it didn’t eliminate hard electric rock from the equation; one listen to “What Is and What Never Will Be” establishes that, and other tunes like “Kashmir” and “The Truth Explodes” bring back the signature punch.

However, Quarter leans toward the band’s more acoustic side. It favors that sort of tune with numbers like “No Quarter” and “That’s the Way” while it omits charging rockers like “Rock and Roll” and “Communication Breakdown”. Not that Quarter fails to rock at all, for it actually tosses out a surprising amount of crunch. “Levee”, “Will Be” and “Truth” all generate a lot of power.

Speaking of “Truth”, it’s easily the most interesting of the four new songs. All of them fit in well with the Zep repertoire, though “Truth” sounds more like something from the Nineties than the Seventies. It’s a driving tune that works well.

As I noted in my review of the two-disc Led Zeppelin set, I came to like to band late in life. They’ll never be my favorites, but they definitely have a lot of good material, and Quarter represents their strengths well. The program features a strong band and fares nicely in musical ways. Plant’s voice isn’t what it used to be, but he sounds very good during these shows. The band holds up their end of the bargain as well.

Musically, Quarter expands the original Led Zep arrangements. We discover a variety of unusual instrumental choices that integrate various cultural influences. These mesh with the songs and never sound forced or unnatural.

Overall, I really like No Quarter. I admit I didn’t expect much of the program, as I never much liked the “Unplugged” format. However, Page and Plant make sure that they do more than simply present emasculated versions of their songs. It’s a strong show.


The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio A (DTS) B+ (DD)/ Bonus D+

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page: No Quarter appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though generally decent, the picture remained decidedly average at best.

Sharpness caused many of the concerns. Much of the program looked rather soft. Some shots appeared acceptably tight and accurate, but others lost focus for no apparent reason. Even close-ups often came across as somewhat fuzzy. Jagged edges and shimmering appeared frequently, and I also noticed some signs of edge enhancement. The program seemed free of source flaws.

Colors appeared somewhat erratic. At times they came across as nicely distinct and vibrant, but on other occasions, they looked a bit heavy. The program featured lots of almost pastel tones, and those seemed moderately runny and messy at times. Black levels were tight and deep, however, and shadow detail looked clean and appropriately defined. For the most part, No Quarter presented an acceptable image, but my overall score came only to a “C-”.

No Quarter provided both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. Although I often discern little difference between the two, that didn’t occur here. In the case of Quarter, I felt the DTS mix substantially bettered the Dolby version. Initially I’ll discuss my reactions to the DTS rendition and then describe the variations I noticed.

As with most concerts, the soundfield of Quarter remained mostly oriented toward the front speakers. However, it did branch out quite substantially throughout the show. Within the front, stereo imaging seemed solid. Vocals remained centered, and the rest the mix provided good space and delineation of the instruments. They all appeared neatly localized and mixed together well. They combined crisply but didn’t lose their individual characteristics.

Surround usage seemed noticeably more aggressive than during most concert programs, but it didn’t come across as gimmicky. Instead, the rear channels added lots of percussion, alternate instruments, some background vocals and even lead guitar at times; for example, Page’s slashing chords flew all around the room during parts of “What Is and What Never Will Be”. This worked well and didn’t turn silly.

Audio quality appeared very good. Except for occasions when the production intentionally altered his tone, Plant’s voice consistently sounded natural and warm. Instrumentation came across as accurate and distinct. Highs appeared crisp and well defined, while bass response seemed tight and lively. The audio was consistently firm and immediate and demonstrated terrific dynamics and clarity.

While not bad on its own, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix of Quarter seemed less compelling than the DTS one. It appeared somewhat flatter and thinner, as it lacked the same punch and life heard during the DTS edition. Highs were a bit bland, and they didn’t display the same immediacy and verve. Bass was duller and less rich. The soundfields appeared similar, though the DTS one came across as more involving due to the higher quality of the audio. Taken individually, the Dolby Digital track remained reasonably good, but it paled when compared to the DTS edition.

As we move to the DVD’s extras, we get an interview with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. This lasts 13 minutes as the pair chat about the project. They tell us why they came back together, issues connected with recording in Morocco and various influences, song selection and a few other musical topics. Likely intended to promote No Quarter, a lot of program clips show up here, and since we already own the show, they get tedious. Still, Page and Plant present enough decent info to make the interview worth a look.

Next we get a bonus track via Led Zeppelin IV’s “Black Dog”. Plant mentions this as a tune that didn’t work well in the “Unledded” setting, which seems to explain why it failed to make the final cut. Presented with stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes, this rendition doesn’t work amazingly well, but it’s an interesting variation on a great song.

In the Moroccan montage we see 104 seconds of local sights accompanied by some native music. Some of the shots include Page and/or Plant, but many focus on the residents. It’s pretty dull. Lastly, we encounter a music video for “Most High”. A track off of 1998’s Page & Plant studio album Walking into Clarksdale, it shows the influence of their Moroccan experiences. It’s a decent song and a moderately interesting video.

It might not be a full-fledged Led Zeppelin, but Robert Plant and Jimmy Page’s No Quarter is the next best thing. It offers alternate takes on a bunch of classic songs and makes most of them fresh and powerful. The DVD presents mediocre picture and only some minor extras, but the audio quality soars, especially via the excellent DTS mix. It’s not a stellar release, but since it includes a very good performance and sounds great, I recommend it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.638 Stars Number of Votes: 163
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