Even at the dawn of the punk era, Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin were still one of the biggest bands on the planet. The band received Atlantic’s biggest ever lead, and the band rewarded the label with a string of chart-topping albums. Tragedy struck in 1980 when drummer John Bonham died. Led Zeppelin couldn’t go on without him, but they still owed the label an album. Page’s skills as a producer and engineer helped him get away with a white lie at the label as he put together Led Zeppelin’s latest album as a quartet, Coda.
Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin disbanded rather than continue with new drummer upon death of John Bonham
The Beatles scrolled a few drummers before adding Ringo Starr, and the Rolling Stones added a few new members so they could keep rolling, but Led Zeppelin never changed the lineup. It was still Page, vocalist Robert Plant, multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham.
Bonham died suddenly in 1980 on the eve of a tour and Led Zeppelin decided to part ways rather than replace him with a new timekeeper. Bonham was more than just a timekeeper for Led Zeppelin. His powerful technique gave Led Zeppelin a distinctive sound, but he was so in tune with the rest of the band and such an instrumental part of the songs’ development that Page said Zeppelin could not replace him.
When Bonham died, the band still owed Atlantic another studio album, and the studio would not accept no for an answer. Page’s producing skills helped him get away with a lie when he delivered Coda to the label in 1982.
Jimmy Page’s Producer Skills Helped Him Get Away With A Lie While Directing Led Zeppelin’s ‘Coda’
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Before forming Led Zeppelin, before accepting an invitation to join the Yardbirds (after scoring an iconic guitar for turning down the job), Jimmy Page cut his teeth as a session musician and made it into worth it.
“As a studio musician, I took it almost like an apprenticeship because I wanted to learn certain techniques from sound engineers,” Page said during a tour of the Fender guitar factory (via Youtube). “I really wanted to know how things were done.”
The guitarist also learned to read and arrange music as well as produce at the end of his session days.
These talents came in handy when Page had to assemble Coda. Without a drummer, he delved into the archives to find outtakes that never made it onto previous Led Zeppelin albums. Still, Page didn’t have enough studio takes for a full “studio” album. So he drew on his background as an engineer and producer and turned a live version of “We’re Gonna Groove” into a track that sounded like a studio cut.
“The first pressings of Coda included the information that “We’re Gonna Groove” was recorded at Morgan Studios in London on June 25, 1969… In reality, as noted on later releases of the album, the song was taken from ‘a live performance from 9 January 1970. at the Royal Albert Hall in London’, Centennial Mediait is Spotlight on Music Legends: Led Zeppelin Remarks. “Jimmy Page made no mistake – it was his sleight of hand. The contract with Atlantic called for a studio album. Lacking enough material for one, the guitarist cleverly rigged the live performance so that ‘it sounds like it was made at Morgan.
CodaThe version of “We’re Gonna Groove” is not a completely revamped live track. Page added a layered guitar to his solo, according to the music legend magazine. Yet Page’s skills as a producer and engineer helped him lie to Atlantic, claim “We’re Gonna Groove” was a studio release, add it to Coda’s track list.
Where does ‘Coda’ rank among the Led Zeppelin albums?
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Coda is not like other Led Zeppelin albums. Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones didn’t jam over the songs, work out the flaws on the road, then record them in the studio. However, the file is an official part of the Zeppelin discography, but it has mixed reviews.
If you ask former Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, Coda is his favorite Led Zeppelin album. He learned to play the drums by copying the drum solo “Bonzo’s Montreux”, so Zep’s swan song holds a special place in his heart. Songs like “I Can’t Quit You Babe” and “Wearing and Tearing” stand well alongside the band’s hits from previous years.
Showbiz Cheat Sheet once had Coda next to the bottom of the list when ranking Led Zeppelin albums. Since it is a collection of excerpts from their entire career, it does not have the same temporal and spatial cohesion as previous works.
Love it or hate it, Coda has an interesting story about Jimmy Page getting away with a lie while putting the album together.
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