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Coda

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  • Led Zeppelin’s odds and ends album Coda was released in November of 1982.
    How this album came to be, let’s set the stage shall we.
    In 1980, Led Zeppelin were riding high on the success of In Through the Out Door which was on its way to selling 7 million copies in the US alone (not bad for Zep standards and outsold Led Zeppelin 3 and Presence). The band toured Europe and were selling out venues nightly but then tragedy struck, drummer John Bonham passed away on September 25, 1980 as the band was rehearsing for a US tour. Over two months later, the band broke up after the death of Bonham whose style was hard to replicate and deemed him irreplaceable.
    Throughout 1981 and 1982, guitarist Jimmy Page worked on the soundtrack to Death Wish II and Robert Plant released his solo debut Pictures at Eleven (which hit #3 in the US) whilst bass player John Paul Jones went into soundtrack work. Also, Page went through the Zep vaults to cobble together a final Led Zeppelin album which would be called Coda.
    The recordings were from between 1970 and 1978 with some fresh overdubs by Plant and Page where required as followed.
    We open with the rocker “We’re Gonna Groove” which is the same version as it would appear on the 2003 Led Zeppelin DVD and recorded at The Royal Albert Hall in January, 1970 (not Morgan Studios like the notes stated). It’s the same version as on the DVD but Page overdubbed guitar solos in 1982 to fill out the song (the overdubs were removed on the DVD version) and Plant’s voice went through a phaser (unlike the version on the Led Zeppelin DVD). Next is “Poor Tom” which is a great countryish outtake from Led Zeppelin III. The song has Page playing acoustic guitar over a classic Bonzo drum pattern with Jonesy filling out the bass and Plant singing and playing harmonica. Next is “I Can’t Quit You Baby” which is the same song as on Led Zeppelin I, but on steroids. Harder drumming and more furious guitar and singing than on the original. It has a very raw feel to it. This track is also on the Zep DVD from Royal Albert Hall but shortened for vinyl constraints (and not a rehearsal like the liner notes state). The first half ends with the Houses of the Holy outtake “Walter’s Walk”. This rocker just rocks and would have appeared on Houses save time constraints and there were no lyrics so Plant recorded the vocals in 1981/82 with fresh lyrics.
    The album’s second half consists of the outtakes from In Through the Out Door except as noted. The rocker “Ozone Baby” is from the ITtOD sessions and was one of the rock radio hits from the album. “Darlene” is next and is one of the album’s best tracks and the biggest rock radio hit from the album. Another ITtOD outtake which just rocks. Next is “Bonzo’s Montreux” which is a John Bonham drum workout that was recorded in Montreux in 1976. It just features Bonham and Page messing around in the studio one day and Page later added some electronic stuff to it. The closing “Wearing and Tearing” is Zeppelin’s answer to the punk music movement that was popular in Europe at the time (it didn’t get big in the US until years later) and is from the ITtOD sessions. It has a very fast-paced beat and is a killer rocker.
    Coda, when released, quickly stormed to #4 on the Billboard album chart and went Platinum quick but by then Men at Work, Michael Jackson, A Flock of Seagulls and later Duran Duran were all dominating the US music scene.
    In 1993, this album was re-issued on The Complete Studio Recordings box set (see review) with the four bonus tracks that appeared on Led Zeppelin’s 1990 and 1993 box sets.
    If you are an unbiased Zep fan (like myself), pick this up, if not your loss.
    Recommended!

    Posted on February 13, 2010