Coda by Led Zeppelin Review
Coda was the last Led Zeppelin album. An album of eight out takes and unused tracks spanning all periods of the bands career, it was released in 1982, two years after the band officially split following the death of drummer John Bonham.
Jimmy Page oversaw the release and said at the time that it was prompted by the popularity of unofficial bootlegs of unreleased Led Zeppelin recordings. Coda was also released to satisfy Led Zeppelin’s contract with Atlantic Records and to cover tax on previous earnings. All four members of the band had been tax exiles in the late 1970s.
The opening track, We’re Gonna Groove was originally intended for release on Led Zeppelin II but did make the final cut. The basis of this recording was a live performance from a concert at the Albert Hall in 1970, although the Coda version features guitar overdubs and is heavily produced. The original version can be heard on the Led Zeppelin DVD, released in 2003. The third track, I Can’t Quit You Baby was taken from the same concert and given similar production treatment in the studio.
Poor Tom was written at Bron-Yr-Aur during Jimmy Page and Robert Plant’s preparations for the Led Zeppelin III album. The acoustic folk influences is typical and in fitting with the band’s output at this time but it was omitted from the original album.
The sessions at Stargroves for Houses of the Holy yielded Walter’s Walk although there is some speculation as to where and when it was recorded. Robert Plant’s voice sounds more like latter day Led Zeppelin than Houses of the Holy Period and the song contains a riff that bears a strong resemblance to Hots on for Nowhere from Presence. Several songs on Coda were written and recorded during the punk era and bear signs that they were written in response to punk or even influenced by it.
Ozone Baby was another song written and recorded during the punk era and bears the hallmarks. It’s a straightforward rocker and while it lacks the deft touch of Led Zeppelin’s better material it certainly demonstrates the band had energy at this stage.
Darlene, like Ozone Baby was recorded during the In Through the Out Door sessions and sounds more complete than most of the tracks on Coda. Robert Plant hardly excels with the lyrics but musically, its interesting. The song is essentially split in two with a slower, stop-start beginning leading to a faster second half. Jimmy Page’s rockabilly guitar playing mixes well with some fine piano from John Paul Jones.
Like Moby Dick from Led Zeppelin II, Bonzo’s Montreaux would surely only be listened to by drummers more than once. Nevertheless, it’s a fitting tribute to a brilliant drummer.
Final track, Wearing and Tearing was an unmistakable statement by Led Zeppelin that they could compete with the punk bands when it came to aggression and energy. Another unused track from the In Through the Out Door sessions, it doesn’t quite feel complete but could have been a stellar track had they finished it properly.
So Coda was the full stop on Led Zeppelin’s all too brief twelve year recording career. It’s better than most out take albums that bands release but sometimes its easy to see why some of these tracks were left off the original albums. That said, there are still high points on Coda that most bands could never achieve. Poor Tom is a lively yarn and Darlene has some superb musicianship and all of the tracks have something of worth.
Overall, Coda has a sad feel because Led Zeppelin felt they couldn’t make more music after John Bonham and they were right to leave it there, bar the odd reunion performance. I wonder what form this years Led Zeppelin reunion rumours take.
Rated Sound gives Coda by Led Zeppelin a rating of 7/10.
Coda (1982) by Led Zeppelin Track Listing
1. We’re Gonna Groove
2. Poor Tom
3. I Can’t Quit You Baby
4. Walter’s Walk
5. Ozone Baby
7. Bonzo’s Montreux
8. Wearing And Tearing