Song 182: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” (1994)

Jimmy+Page+&+Robert+Plant+-+No+Quarter+-+Front+(2-2)

The hype for the (ugh) “Unledded” performance by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant on MTV Unplugged was pretty insane. At least, that’s how I remember it; it’s possible that I was so into Led Zeppelin and classic rock radio that I just assumed everybody was obsessed with the duo teaming up again.

I wasn’t exactly let down by the results, but it made me realize that not everything is helped by a slimmed-down approach. Some songs, like the already acoustic “Thank You,” didn’t get more interesting by barely scaling back. What I did love was the revamped version of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” a gospel number that the band reworked into a scorching blues track for their record Presence, and appearing on No Quarter as a swampy stomp of a song.

I love the section that starts around 1:50 in the video below, when Plant yells, “Take it on! Take it on!” (or whatever he actually says) and the hurdy gurdy churns along (can a hurdy gurdy churn? Poetic license!). It sounds fantastic, moving the song at a just-fast-enough pace. Whereas Led Zeppelin’s version of this song seemed fueled by anger, the Page and Plant rendition is more about coming to terms with owed debts and missed opportunities. I wonder if their old age accounts for this approach (Page was 50 when No Quarter was released and Plant was 46; they were respectively 32 and 28 for Presence), or if they simply wanted to try something new.

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