Picks and Pans Review: No Quarter

updated 11/21/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/21/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant

Dinosaurs they may be, but the song-writing tandem behind Led Zeppelin actually show some daring in this companion release to the obligatory MTV Unplugged special, which aired last month. Page and Plant approach the reworking of these chestnuts, composed during a 25-year span, as if they were a pair of perfectionist potters, destroying their prized pieces and throwing fresh clay on the wheel.

More than 50 musicians, including Moroccan and Egyptian performers, have been assembled to create exotic, percussive, rhythms. "Gallows Pole" and "The Battle of Evermore" burst alive with the spirited help of players like vocalist Najma Akhtar and the layered orchestral arrangements of Ed Shearmur. There are a couple of amplified renditions, including a powerful take on "Thank You," in which Page's guitar playing sounds more confident than it has in years. Vocally, Plant, now 46, can no longer make the leaps he once did, but his pipes are still nonpareil. Only one gripe: Where's the Arabic version of "Stairway to Heaven?" (Atlantic)

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