30 Years Ago: Led Zeppelin’s ‘Coda’ Album Released
After drummer John Bonham died on Sept. 25, 1980, effectively putting an end to Led Zeppelin, fans were hungry for more music. Their last album, 1979âs âIn Through the Out Door,â marked a strong return after a three-year absence. But the band had broken up, and there wasnât too much unused music sitting around, because Led Zeppelin didnât waste much. Over the course of eight albums and 10 years, only one non-LP B-side (âHey Hey What Can I Doâ) surfaced. And the few leftover tracks that they had in the can made up roughly half of 1975âs âPhysical Graffiti.â
Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones got together a couple of years later and combed their archives for leftovers. They found eight, which made up âCoda,â the last official studio record released by Led Zeppelin. The album — which celebrates its 30th anniversary today — ranges from a pair of 1970 live cuts through âIn Through the Out Doorâ outtakes. And it holds up as a solid collection for fans and collectors.
The two concert songs — covers of Ben E. Kingâs âWeâre Gonna Grooveâ and Willie Dixonâs âI Canât Quit You Baby,â which also appeared on Led Zeppelinâs debut — donât offer much perspective. But the remaining six tracks, like the acoustic shuffle of the âLed Zeppelin IIIâ outtake âPoor Tom,â fill in some missing pieces. Best are the groove-centric âOzone Babyâ and âDarlene,â both recorded during the sessions for the last LP.
âCodaâ reached No. 6 in 1982, their only non-No. 1 album besides the live âSong Remains the Same,â the debut and, remarkably, the classic untitled fourth album from 1971. Still, it eventually went platinum. Three songs received substantial airplay — âDarlene,â âOzone Babyâ and âPoor Tomâ — and Bonhamâs drum extravaganza âBonzoâs Montreuxâ was combined with the even more spectacular âMoby Dickâ for a medley included on the 1990 âLed Zeppelinâ box set.
Only one other Zeppelin outtake has shown up since the release of ‘Coda’ — the bluesy âBaby Come on Homeâ from the debutâs sessions, which ended up on the second box set (the other new songs come from radio performances) — making it an essential record for completists. Itâs not perfect, but it remains a key part of their catalog.
Â Listen to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Darlene’