First off, it’s interesting to notice the years that each of these eight songs were released — spanning from 1969 to 1978. Like all past Led Zeppelin albums, “Coda” contains its share of varied styles and highly memorable jam sessions by each talented musician. It opens with the fun and highly energetic “We’re Gonna Groove,” done originally by Ben E. King and James Bethea. “Coda” boasts plenty of energy, and the songs are nowhere near as lame as many have claimed they are over the years. The Page/Plant team did a wonderful job on “Poor Tom,” a folksy, high-energy ditty with great background drumming, some notable harmonica, a cool bass line and a nice bridge where Plant gently sings and the guitars gently chime.
Though Led Zeppelin influenced every hard rock band under the sun, they themselves also blatantly played their own influences on record, and one such song is the popular Willie Dixon blues track, “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” a song also heard on Zeppelin’s debut album, Led Zeppelin 1, where it expertly melds blues and rock together. Though it was written in 1972, “Walter’s Walk” sounds vaguely like an 1980s-era Plant song, with its sharp sound and raring-to-go vocals. Likewise, “Ozone Baby” is a fairly rocking, almost danceable track that displays a band still very much in top form when they recorded it in 1978. In fact, it’s unfortunate that some of these late 70s “Coda” songs didn’t find their way on Zeppelin’s last studio album, In Through the Out Door.
Clicking on all cyclinders throughout “Coda” was the legendary drummer John Bonham. His own song, which truly pays homage to his unbelievable talent, “Bonzo’s Montreux,” in some ways steals the album. Bonham is a one-man orchestra on the all-drum song, and you simply have to hear it to believe it. “Darlene” feautures great instrumentation by John Paul Jones, who plays a rollicking piano. Finally, the closing song, “Wearing and Tearing,” is appropriately titled. The rocking song shows a great band on its way out with a fast riff to speed the song along and wild-fire vocals. Interestingly, it’s the sort of style Zeppelin didn’t always attempt during their massive heyday, preferring instead a slower pace and long solos by Page.
In my opinion, every song in the Zeppelin catalog is to be treasured, and the songs on “Coda” are no exception. Those that say this record is nearly a complete throwaway are mistaken. Zep were cool because they never over-produced themselves, and they played like a bar band and stadium rockers all at once. Zeppelin always sounded natural together, and that’s one of the reasons I like “Coda” so much.