Led Zeppelin - Coda
I have to admit to being uncertain as to why this was released at all. My initial thoughts were that it was to wrap up loose ends. Then I wondered if it was an attempt, in the same mode as Jimmy Hendrix, to milk as much from fans as they could before interest ran out. Then again there is the dreaded contractual obligation - apparently Robert Plant did not want this released at all. Yet contracts are null on the death of one of the parties and as Bonham was dead it could be argued that Led Zeppelin, as a party to a contract, died with him. Probably none of these represents the whole truth. Page was in the grip of heroin addiction at the time and would not come clean for another couple of years. I suspect the real reason behind this album's release lies in addled mind of a junkie.
Bearing that in mind, it is not really fair to compare this to the great Led Zeppelin albums of the previous decade. Some of the songs are well known through concerts and other media, but oddly "White Summer", long an established Led Zeppelin staple, is not included among the tracks. Nor is the B-side to "The Immigrant Song", "Hey Hey What Can I Do?", surely the best Led Zeppelin track never to have made it to an official album while the band was active.
However, I find it interesting to listen to some of the songs and figure out why they did not match up to the standard which others, apparently, did. It gives you a clue into the mentality of the band at the time. Although "We're Gonna Groove" is a reasonably promising opener, it all goes rapidly downhill from that point onwards. None of the tracks here is really outstanding in any way and this contributes to the overall flat feeling you get when you listen to it. The earlier songs show little of the zest which came through on studio releases of the same time, while the previously unreleased songs, most notably the awful "Darlene" are just awful. The closest the album comes to taking off is the live version of "I Can't Quit You, Babe" but even that struggles to rise above the mediocre. If you are going to close out a glorious career with a collection of unreleased material, releasing an album as second rate as Coda is really not the way to go about it.
What I find staggering is that this is apparently all they have. There must other outtakes and abandoned songs lying around in Jimmy Page's or John Paul Jones's backrooms. The later releases such as the BBC Sessions would suggest that there is more to be heard - somewhere. I would really like to hear some of this stuff, particularly the earlier versions of some of the all time classic songs, and see what they are like. Given that Led Zeppelin never played the same song the same way twice, that would make for an interesting, and almost limitless number of variations, if they still exist.
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on 2011-04-27 CharlesMartel Said:
Not Led Zeppelin's greatest by far, but an album which has an interest all of its own for some of the tracks which cannot be found elsewhere. Perhaps only one for completists, of which there must be millions.