Jimmy Page Explains Why Led Zeppelin Released 'Coda'
Many artists of his generation are content to allow their record label to repackage and remaster their seminal albums; others have no choice in the matter, as their labels are legally able to do whatever they want. But Page has always been firmly in charge of Led Zeppelin the band and the brand, and takes that responsibility exceedingly seriously. Indeed, over the course of three interviews in the past year and a half, I always detected a combination of irritation and disbelief that his former bandmates, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones weren't very involved in working on, or promoting, the reissues.
Although now Page may be ready to move on, satisfied that the definitive versions of Led Zeppelin's albums are now available in varying formats. In our interview discussing the upcoming three reissues, he also spoke about the possibility of releasing the long-abandoned XYZ project (which featured former Yes members Chris Squire and Alan White) and hinted at some new music, which would be his first group of new songs since his 1998 collaboration with Robert Plant, Walking Into Clarksdale.
Radio.com: Coda was the first Led Zeppelin album that I bought when it was new; I was too young to really be aware of the band when you were around, but it was so exciting to know that a "new" Zeppelin album was coming out. But what prompted you to release a collection of outtakes in 1982?
Page: Coda had to be put together, it was a sort of' we owed the record company another album. I don't even know how [Led Zeppelin's late manager] Peter Grant managed to broach the subject to me, it was quite a while after we'd lost John [Bonham]. But to me, it still felt like we'd just lost him yesterday. So it was a difficult album to put together, but there was the backbone of it: "Bonzo's Montreaux," which was recorded between Presence and In Through the Out Door. I'd worked on it with John. The other members weren't there. That, for me, was the backbone of the album. Under the circumstances, there couldn't be anything better than having a drum orchestra of John Bonham.
Compiling the music for these companion discs, I knew I wanted to arrive at two extra discs for Coda. To make it a total celebration of Led Zeppelin and its music, and the quirkiness of it. I'd surprised the band with some of this stuff, because they'd not heard it. I just really wanted to show so many colors and textures, and it does.
Radio.com: How involved were Robert Plant and John Paul Jones in the reissue process, did you send them tapes?
Page: I'll tell you how it worked. I knew there were some key pieces [that I wanted to include], but this was going to be such a complete picture [of the band]. The whole depth and length of the project became quite clear, but I couldn't invest hundreds of hours of listening to tapes without the help of the others.
What I did was, I played them the companion disc for Led Zeppelin III separately: Robert first. And then the companion disc for Presence. I outlined what the project was going to be. Robert thought it was great. Then I played it for John Paul Jones, and same deal. Robert sent a few tapes that he had, he had a couple of those things were of use.
Read the rest of the interview here.
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