Album Reviews

Led Zeppelin

Presence / In Through the Out Door / Coda

Artist:     Led Zeppelin

Album:     Presence / In Through the Out Door / Coda

Label:     Rhino

Release Date:     07/31/2015


The final entries in Rhino’s highly sought-after Led Zeppelin reissue program, Presence, In Through the Out Door and Coda represent Zeppelin at their peak, during their decline and somewhere in between. Presence was generally shunned at the time, a somewhat lackluster contrast to the monumental albums that had preceded it. In Through the Out Door, on the other hand, represented the band’s final triumph. Not only was it the last studio album recorded by the original foursome (drummer John Bonham died soon after it was completed) but also one of their richest. The aptly titled Coda, a sundry collection of outtakes and previously unreleased recordings, was easily dismissed and indeed, quickly found its way to the bargain bins, although in hindsight it does offer some interesting curios.

Ironically, when it comes to these re-releases, Coda provides the most interesting stockpile of accompanying bonus material, yielding not one, but two discs of rarities and alternate options.  The original idea for the album was to gather tracks that were recorded but never released during the band’s heyday, and while the original setlist was less than spectacular, the new three-CD incarnation of Coda adds some interesting relics. Among them, several unreleased gems: the frenetic “Sugar Mama” and “Baby Come On Home” (recorded during the group’s seminal sessions in 1968), an unreleased instrumental called “St. Tristan’s Sword” (originally recorded for Led Zeppelin III) and the previously released cast-off taped for the BBC, “Travelling Riverside Blues.” Other additions of interest include a couple of tracks recorded with the Bombay Orchestra, and an early take on “When the Levee Breaks,” originally titled “If It Keeps on Raining.”

Like the other albums in the series, most of the add-ons Rhino accorded to these reissues are in the form of rough mixes that provide some variation on the better-known versions of these songs. While that undoubtably provides added interest for the die-hard collector, it’s the occasional alternate version—early takes on “Carouselambra,” “All My Love” and “I’m Gonna Crawl” (from In Through the Out Door) along with “Achilles Last Stand” and an oddity entitled “10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod” (from Presence)—that provide the most interest overall. The relative lack of actual unreleased songs from the vaults is and has been a source of disappointment in this campaign, but even so, the sum total of additional vintage material ought to give fans plenty to feast on.

—Lee Zimmerman

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