Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Led Zeppelin Coda (1982)


I’ve been long suspect that I’ve been a dummy my entire life. The fact that I can listen to a much maligned outtakes album like Coda and enjoy it more than Presence has such connotations. How can a straight-thinking person think such things? Maybe it’s the pure imperfection of this I like. Perhaps I approached their earlier albums feeling that Led Zeppelin were a little too self-aware that they were immortal rock ‘n’ roll gods. Who knows?

Anyway, Bonham died in 1980, and I guess that meant there was no chance of Led Zeppelin continuing to release albums under that moniker. So I guess that gave Jimmy Page reason enough to go through the vaults to pick out some unused songs to remix and release. Some people saw this gesture as a cheap cash-in, but according to Page, it was a response to these songs being rampantly bootlegged at the time. That’s a really damn good reason for him to have released this. If nothing else, it proved that there was a sizable audience for this stuff.

And the kids of the early ’80s had a good reason to be interested to hear these songs. The opening track, “We’re Gonna Groove,” kicks ass! It was recorded live way back in 1969. As you might imagine, that was when the band was at the peak of their live playing abilities, and it shows. Everything is in its place; Plant squawks like a rock star, Page’s guitar licks are tight and exciting, Jones’ bass is infectious and danceable, and Bonham’s drumming is tight. It’s a cover of a B. B. King song, but it sounds exactly like a classic old Led Zeppelin song. So where can it go wrong? Frankly, I wonder why this song isn’t more beloved by their fans.

A live version of “I Can’t Quit You Baby” is also included, and it’s certainly another one that the die-hard fans will lap up greedily. I find it to be a little bit sloppy and I’m not a huge fan of Page’s improvised and selfish licks throughout, but I can’t deny that I get a little something pumping through my veins when I listen to it. “Poor Tom” is a folkish rocker that was left off of Led Zeppelin III. It isn’t bad for what amounts to a two-chord song! What keeps it afloat, amazingly enough, is Bonham’s tight drumming.

Also amazingly, Coda contains a four-minute drum solo, “Bonzo’s Montreux,” that I don’t find boring. When I think of drum solos, I usually think of flashy and pitter-pattery things that are sometimes fun at first, but they pretty quickly start to bore me. This drum solo, on the other hand, is rhythmic and huge. It sounds as though Bonham were playing it on a mountaintop, and Zeus was his audience. I can’t say I’m greatly awestruck listening to it—it’s just a drum solo after all—but it’s one of the few drum solos out there, I’m aware of, that makes me want to tap my foot.

Things were going great until the closing track, “Wearing and Tearing,” an overlong and sloppy song that was left off of In Through the Out Door. Shouldn’t we be immediately suspect of anything that was left off of that album? Normally yes, but I actually like the other outtake, “Darlene.” It’s a stiff boogie-woogie, but the detached riff is kind of catchy, and the loud drumming makes it seem epic. They even treated us to some Jerry Lee Lewis style piano in there, which certainly doesn’t hurts!

Despite my opening paragraph, Coda is by and large the worst Led Zeppelin album. It’s the most scattershot and sloppy collection of songs this band ever released. But what were we expecting? Masterpieces? This is an outtakes album, for cripes sake! What’s more, they had already used up the best of their pre-1975 outtakes for Physical Graffiti. However, this album isn’t as bad as its reputation would have us believe. I found Coda to be an altogether fun release. However, it’s only meant for people who already own and love all Zeppelin’s other albums. Make this your final Led Zeppelin purchase. Unless you’re weird and like to do everything backwards.


May 15, 2013 - Posted by | Led Zeppelin Coda |

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: