Monday, 19 August 2019

Led Zeppelin - Coda (1982)

We're gonna groove....


Released on 19 November 1982

Running time 33.04 (original album)

Coda was a retrospective compilation of rarities released two years after Led Zeppelin's split in 1980 after drummer John Bonham's death. The best version of it is the latest one, which features several more bonus tracks than the original album did.


1. We're Gonna Groove (from 1969/live in January 1970 with guitar overdubs)
2. Poor Tom (Led Zeppelin III outtake 1970)
3. I Can't Quit You Baby (live "rehearsal" January 1970)
4. Walter's Walk (Houses Of The Holy outtake 1972 with possible later overdubs)
5. Ozone Baby (In Through The Out Door outtake 1978)
6. Darlene (In Through The Out Door outtake 1978)
7. Bonzo's Montreux (from 1976)
8. Wearing And Tearing (In Through The Out Door outtake 1978)

BONUS TRACKS (not on original album)

9. Baby Come On Home (Led Zeppelin outtake 1968)
10. Travelling Riverside Blues (live in June 1969)
11. White Summer/Black Mountain Side (live in June 1969)
12. Hey Hey, What Can I Do ('b' side of Immigrant Song single, 1970)  
13. Sugar Mama (recorded in October 1968)     
14. St. Tristan's Sword (Led Zeppelin III outtake)  

There are also "alternative mixes" of If It Keeps On Raining (When The Levee Breaks); Four Hands (Four Sticks); Desire (The Wanton Song) and Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light). 


We're Gonna Groove is an upbeat, vaguely funky piece of late sixties blues rock. It is full of great guitar, drums and vocals. It would have been a fine addition to either of their first two albums. There is confusion over the origin of the song. Many believe it is a stdio recorded outtake from 1969, others believe it is a live recording from January 1970. It sounds like a studio recording to me, although it apparently had some studio guitar overdubs added by Jimmy Page at some point when compiling this album.

Poor Tom is a marvellous bit of lively blues rock, powered along by John Bonham's sledgehammer drumming. It has similarities to The Rolling Stones' Prodigal Son from Beggars' Banquet, which was in turn based on Reverend Robert Wilkins' 1929 song, That's No Way To Get Along. It sounds great, though, and would have sat well on side one of Led Zeppelin III from whose sessions it was taken.

A storming live version of I Can't Quit You Baby from Led Zeppelin I would appear to be from an actual concert at The Royal Albert Hall in 1970, although it was credited as being a pre-gig rehearsal. There is no crowd noise either way.

Walter's Walk is a solid, muscular rocker from the Houses Of The Holy sessions. it is arguably superior to some of the tracks that ended up on that somewhat patchy album. Once more, Bonham's drums are outstanding.

The old "side two" contained three outtakes from In Through The Out Door. Ozone Baby is an infectious little rocker, all guitar, drums and bass and, notably, none of the synthesisers or piano that dominated the album that it failed to make the cut for. It is one of my favourites on here, with a catchy "ooh-ooh it's my love" chorus.

Darlene fitted in with some of the rock 'n' roll-influenced material that did appear on the eventual album in 1979. John Paul Jones' boogie piano is integral and there is a bit of a Rolling Stones circa 1972 about it. There are also hints of Queen in places near the end, vaguely like Crazy Little Thing Called Love in its vibe and vocal.

Bonzo's Montreux was a sledgehammer drum solo from Bonham, dating from 1976, when he lived in Montreux, Switzerland, as a tax exile. It is the album's tribute to him.

Wearing And Tearing was, apparently, Zeppelin's answer to punk, in its breakneck, riffy style. It doesn't sound remotely punky to me, it just sounds like Zeppelin rocking in their own inimitable fashion. I loved punk, but I loved Zeppelin too. The two were different beasts, they didn't need to meet.

From the bonus tracks, Baby Come On Home is a slow, slightly rock 'n' roll ballad meets rock number, with a loose, soulful bluesiness to it. It features some Atlantic Records-style gospelly organ too.

Travelling Roadside Blues is an impressive piece of slide guitar-driven blues rock, taken from a 1969 BBC live in the studio session. It includes the "Squeeze my lemon 'til the juice runs right down  my leg" lyric used also on Led Zeppelin II's The Lemon Song. It is also included on the live album Led Zeppelin At The BBC. In my opinion, it is remastered better here on Coda - fuller and bassier. The version of the instrumental White Summer/Black Mountain Side was recorded in London in June 1969. This also appears on the BBC album.

 Hey Hey What Can I Do is an appealing piece of folky rock, typical of Zeppelin's 1970 output. Sugar Mama is a cover of a Sonny Boy Williamson song dating from sessions in 1968. It is riffy and lively, with a high-pitched Robert plant vocal. Bonham's drums are engagingly rhythmic on this, despite their ubiquitous thumping power.

St. Tristan's Sword was a Led Zeppelin III outtake. It is a rocking instrumental that would again have suited side one of that album. Also interesting is the Bombay Mix of Four Sticks called Four Hands, which has an instrumental version of the track played by Indian musicians, Zeppelin going full-on George Harrison. They do the same to Friends. This one includes a Plant vocal. If It Keeps On Raining (When The Levee Breaks) is bassily addictive too, although this one is a Zeppelin mix, involving no Indian musicians.

Overall, there is some very good stuff on here, not as much as many never-satisfied fans wanted, perhaps, but it is fine by me.


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