Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Led Zeppelin - Coda (LP, 1982)

I will say this for Coda: The idea behind it is sweet, it's a fucking sweet title for an album which you know is going to be your final release, and the songs on it, though incongruous, are all worthy of release. Having said that, this thing is definitely all over the place, and hard to get a handle on. But there's some cool shit here.

Released a few years after John Bonham's death, this was Zeppelin's first post-breakup record, and really the only single album of unreleased material they would ever put out. A few other rare tracks would show up on their box set in the 90's, and why those weren't included on this, I don't know. Regardless, what we have here is a Led Zeppelin afterthought, an album that, like I said, deserved to be heard, but doesn't ultimately fit with the rest of their catalog very well. Strangely, that makes me like it more.

"We're Gonna Groove" is an old one, a raw blues number that is great because it's fast. It's "Heartbreaker"-ish, and there ain't a damn thing wrong with that. "Poor Tom" is a Led Zeppelin III-era acoustic jammer that is the best song on this record, hands down. Plant nails it, and the guitar work is finessed. Why they thought to follow it with an edited-for-time live version of "I Can't Quit You Baby" is beyond me. At less than five minutes, it's far more tolerable than other versions, but still. The first side closes with "Walter's Walk," which sounds half-finished. It's a shame, because the shoddy production quality seems to be overshadowing a catchy tune.

"Ozone Baby" is a straight rocker that opens the second side, and it's solid. Thick guitars, nothing fancy. "Darlene" is a weird mix of 50's rock and pure 70's Zep, with John Paul Jones hammering out some sweet piano. Not crazy compelling, but a fun song. There seems to be a forced fade at the end, which leaves you wondering how long this thing got jammed out in the original session.

"Bonzo's Montreux" is John Bonham beating on the drums for four minutes with some odd effects layered in and out. It is awesome.

"Wearing and Tearing" is the last song on this one, and it's a great closer. Heavy, fast, and urgent. Zeppelin at their punkest. That's not saying much, but it's a raggedly aggressive cut. I've always liked it.

And that was Led Zeppelin's only release in the 80's. If they were giving their legend time to grow, it certainly worked on kids like me. By the early 90's, I was ready to get all Zepped out and shit.

"Wearing and Tearing"

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