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Led Zeppelin – Coda (Deluxe Reissue CD) 

August 2, 2015

I have had a love hate relationship with the 2014/2015 Led Zeppelin reissues. They sound great, but the bonus material has been shockingly weak.  I have not been able to help myself and I have purchased most of the reissues. Led Zeppelin is one of the greatest rock bands of all time and their catalog was an important soundtrack to my youth. The original CDs sucked so these reissues are a welcome correction. Like a lot of early CD reissues the vinyl was better so this is not a unique criticism of Led Zeppelin.

I remember buying Coda in 1982 (on vinyl of course) and being unimpressed.  Timing is everything. The band had retired after the death of John Bonham and the band had updated their sound with In Through the Out Door.  Coda was merely a set of scraps to fulfill a contract obligations. I remember being very disappointed at the time.

But time heals.  In light of the disappointing bonus material of the 2014/2015, reissues Coda Deluxe is the gem of the reissues (at least it felt that way on the first couple of spins).

Coda now makes sense and the three CD version is the first legitimate set of bonus material in the reissue series.  Coda was bonus material. It appears that Led Zeppelin gave us everything and left nothing in reserve. Unless Jimmy Page is toying with us, there are hardly any scraps. This is a huge disappointment to me as my other musical heroes appear to have unlimited reserves (e.g. Dylan and Miles Davis).

Disc one is the original LP which is a handful of outtakes  from Led Zeppelin’s carer. Side one is early career and side two is the late career.  In hindsight this was significant.  The current reissues have shown us there was very little extra material.

When Coda first came out this material did not seem like an album – rather a jumbled mess.  It still is a mess, but now we realize that this is the last of the juice that was going to be squeezed from the lemon.

Disk two is early leftovers. It starts out not very promising with an alternative mix of disk one’s “We’re Going To Groove,” but the next cut is an early workout of LZ IV’s “When The Levee Breaks” that is a yawn.

Next comes a rough mix of disk one’s “Bonzo’s Montreaux.”  It was only of minimal interest the first time around.

“Baby Come Home” is some nice blue-eyed soul. It is an outake from LZ I and for completist it has been issued a couple of times.  I had not heard it before and it is an absolute gem.

“Sugar Mama” is a genuine rarity from LZ I sessions. Another gem.

“Poor Tom” is merely a dub version from disk one.

“Traveling Riverside Blues” is a nice live Robert Johnson cover from 1969. Again completists already have this.  For me it was a nice rarity.

“Hey Hey What Can I Do” was the B-side of LZ III’s “Immigrant Song.”  New to me, but again completists already have this.

So in hindsight disc two did not have any revelations for the true fan, but a nice bonus for a half-assed fan like me.

Disk three kicks off with “Four Hands (Four Sticks) which is an instrumental from the so-called Bombay Sessions. The song is from LZ IV and this version is with some local Indian musicians nick named the Bombay Orchestra.  As best I know this is the first release from that legendary session.

“Friends” is another song from the Bombay Sessions. The raga like feel on this arrangement is perfect.

“St. Tristan’s Sword” is a rough mix from the LZ III sessions and sadly it is an unimaginative and tedious jam.

“Desire” is a rough mix of “The Wonton Song” from Physical Graffiti. Pretty cool to see the song in process of being developed.

“Bring It On Home” is a much rougher and raucous version than LZ II.  Again it is fun to see the construction process. This song had lots of controversy as uncredited plagiarism.

“Walter’s Walk” is a rough mix instrumental of the same tune from disk one. Without Plant’s distinctive vocals the song has a nice punk feel.

“Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light)” is a rough mix of a Physical Graffiti track “In The Light.”  Not remarkably different from the final version.

In summary Coda is the final statement by Led Zeppelin.  It is for hard-core fans. When I first picked up this deluxe edition I was impressed because I never seriously listened to Coda when it was first released and because I was so bonus material starved with the 2014/2015 reissues.  After marinating in it for a couple of weeks I am amazed at how great the original studio albums are. There is no fluff. The fact that there was next to nothing left out makes it all more amazing.  It is also disappointing that there is not a lost album in the archives.


From → Music Reviews

  1. I liked the album when it came out. I knew it was a mish mash. Reminded me of The Who’s Odds and Sods in that respect. The reissue sounds really good. I keep reading your takes I might have to rob a bank.

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