30 April 2014

Alkaline Trio - My Shame Is True

Alkaline Trio are one of those bands which I can go for years without hearing, then all of a sudden I will listen to nothing else apart from them.  By no stretch of the imagination are they one of my most favourite bands, but I have not heard a bad record by them.  When this came out I am sure that I gave it a list, but until recently I have not given them much thought.  However I was asked by a friend what I wanted for my birthday, so I suggested getting this.  After that I thought it was high time that their work was reviewed on the blog and what better time than with an album that I am not really familiar with and can give the gut reaction.  So before we start, a little bit of background - formed in 1996, the current line-up has been together since their seminal release 'From Here To Infirmary'.  Always a popular live band, they have been in the UK recently selling out venues up and down the country.  This album is their 9th studio records and was released on Epitaph records.  Inspired by a break-up with a long term partner, this album could swing one of two ways, now it is time to find out which way it falls.... (FYI - I will be reviewing just the 12 track album, there is a deluxe version which has an EP attached - you can make your own mind up about that part).

Starting with the delightfully titled "She Lied To The FBI", after a brief piece of radio static and feedback the first riff drops and it is as if they had never been out of my life.  This is an album which starts off with a bucket load of regret and sorrow has never had such a black sugar coating in a long time. Full of the expected emotional punk that has been the band's trading card, it shows the band have lost none of their charm.  The only single to be released from the album - "I Wanna Be A Warhol" - talking about wanting to be a piece of art and being on display for the significant other to see all the inner workings, warts and all. "I'm Only Here To Disappoint" comes next and is another slice of fantastic pop punk with a large layer of emotional lyrics which will have fans reaching up in choirs and weeping in equal measure.

"Kiss You To Death" follows next with a strangely haunting and almost rock n' roll vibe as well.  It they put a double bass on this one, it would have made a fantastic rock-a-billy song; however it is still a great punk song which shows the stronger side of the band's song writing.  You have the energy, the sadness, the lost and mournful lyrics - everything you would want from an A3 song.  After this we have "The Temptation Of St. Anthony" and this again is another great song from the band, at this point I'm just dancing around the house whilst it is on.  It may not be the most original material I am hearing here, but it is certainly one of the best slices of sadness that I heard.  "I, Pessimist" is the next track which is a large ball of anger that takes the world to task after it makes a mockery of the subject.  It is much more bouncy that a lot of the other tracks on offer here, but it is a gr

"Only Love" comes next and takes the band back to their melodic side and shows the bare bones of their soul, it has a grief that is like a chasm of the heart.  The band is on fire on this track, it might not be the most bouncy of work from them; but it is one of the top tracks of the album for me.  "The Torture Doctor" is much more bouncy and just keeps up the good work that has gone before.  Basically it is simple powerful emotional rock with a catchy chorus to have everyone sharing emotions in a much more positive way then keeping it locked inside.  It is quite possibly one the best songs I have heard from the band since anything off 'Crimson'.  "Midnight Blue" is a bit more basic that what has gone before, but sometimes it can work in the favour of the album when a track like this is made; it might not be the best song, it may unfairly be held as a filler track; but I would not say it is a filler as it still has a soul about it.

"One Last Dance" is another emotional track like most of this album is composed of and the rollercoaster is showing no sign of slowing down any time towards the end.  It is a powerful song that takes the listener to another potent memory of their own experience and shows it in a different light again. It is asking for a closure that might not be forthcoming if we are honest.  But it would be nice if that could happen for whoever wrote this.  "Young Lovers" is a similar beast to "One Last Dance" but with a bit more of a bounce.  It is catchy and fun, whilst still having the mournful sound that has been the album's calling card.  Ending the record is "Until Death Do Us Part" starting with an acoustic opening, this is a tale of someone wishing that they could right the wrongs that they have done and win back the love that has been lost.  It is almost so child-like in someways, sometimes you cannot have it back once you broke it; but it is still a good song that ends the album.  On the deluxe version you also have the four tracks which made up the 'Broken Wing' EP.

I really like this album, it is not a sugary pop punk affair by the longest of shots; but the Alkaline Trio have never been that sort of band to be honest.  There has always been more of the Joy Division about them than the more sunnier band of the punk world such as New Found Glory, Smash Mouth, etc, etc.  I find them more entertaining as the years have gone by and this is a return to that earlier vein of form.  There is not a weak track on the album and it is well crafted.  It might not be a stone cold classic, but it is very close indeed.  A triumph created in tragedy.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top Track - The Torture Doctor

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Alkaline Trio website here

Here is a link to the Spotify version of the deluxe album

And here is a link for Deezer users

Pixies - Indie Cindy

As promised after I reviewed the EP's on one blog (cleverly linked here) here is a review of the album.  Now I am not going to go into each song like I have done before; it would be a waste of time and you can read what I think on the other blog linked above.  What I want to do here is to look at the work as an album and to give a view on the project itself.  First off, I think this album can be seen as very lazy in that it just cobbles together the EP's and sell it as the new album; the music snob in me (sometimes I wish he would shut up) finds it hard to see this as anything but a rip as the original fans who purchased the EP's are now not gonna have an exclusive release.  In that harsh light it looks like a bad deal, but that is a pretty harsh mind set there.

However, after consideration I found a way to get over this (apart from giving myself a damm good slap).  This presentation the music is now in a physical copy that all fans can purchase.  Granted, it has mixed up the tracks in the way they were released on the EP's and the packaging which has all the EP covers in it, as well as the lyrics in a cool leaflet is hands down the best packaging I have seen in many a year.  Also if you pick up the deluxe version then you will get a live album as well as a secret track.  In that light, the album makes more sense as it is offering the more casual of fans a change to own something special.

So onto the actual album itself, how has mixing the EPs up affected the actual music.  Well to be honest it actually works much better, it has more of a flow and is about the same as I had predicted in my head when I heard it would be the EPs thrown together.  It ebbs and flows with a great fluency and makes for a great album.  Now here is the bedrock of all people's thoughts - is it better or equal to their classic period?  To be honest, it is not better than the classic albums; however it is at least equal to 'Trompe Le Monde' and in someways it was always going to be a hard job for any release that has came after that twenty three year wait since their last work.  But if you look at it as an individual album then it is a very good record, will it mature into a classic?  Well it is a possibility that it might, but that is for future discussion.  For now, let's just enjoy the album for what it is - fun.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - Another Toe In The Ocean

You can purchase the album from Spotify here

You can visit the Pixies website here

Here is the Deezer link for the album

Here is the Spotify link for the album

29 April 2014

Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots

Now before I start I have to rehash a bit of old history which has been outlined in pervious blogs.  I am not a Damon Albarn fan, first few Blur albums were fine (I still have a fondness for 'Modern Life Is Rubbish'), then came 'Parklife' and 'The Great Escape' came and I started to developed an irrational (but well founded) hatred which focused on Mr Albarn.  The self titled album didn't help matters to be honest and when they announced their hiatus after the much better 'Think Tank' I was sort of cheered up.  However there have been other projects to keep him busy, all of which have had various degrees of success and over the years I have made peace with myself and my dislike of some aspects of Mr Albarn's discography.  But early on in the year I was advised of a new album coming, now normally I would have asked one of the other people on the blog team to review the album as I am not the most balanced person for this type of blog; but I must admit I was a little curious to see if my views had changed at all over the years.  So keep the above in mind whilst reading this, I will state now I will try my best not to make this as balanced a blog as possible.....

Starting with the title track it is all strange timing, off key violins and with Albarn bemusing the world and making a mirror to shine on humanity and how stuck in recurring patterns we have became.  As an album opening it is not an instant classic that will grab the Blur 90's generation, but that is not who Albarn is aiming for anymore.  I am also quite glad that the mock cockney accent is no longer there, it is a very unsettling and strange opening as I am enjoying it.  Next is "Hostiles" which is another slice of empty dark pop; all the time I am listening to this album I am drawn to how much is sounds like a less chaotic Thomas Truax (also less fun as well if I am honest).  It is a million miles away from the popular era Blur of the Brit-pop era.  "Lonely Press Play" is next and continues the dark and twist path; to be honest I was surprised that up till now there had not been a more cheery number.  It is without light, pity or humour; "Lonely Press Play" is a redemption piece for me.  It is one of the most engaging works I have heard from Mr Albarn and it does my twisted black heart good to hear something that does not make me want to smash everything up upon hearing his voice.

"Mr Tembo" is a little more cheerful, with a reggae guitar and a story about Mr Tembo and his adventures.  It is a change that was needed to be honest, unless Mr Albarn wanted the audience to hang themselves.  It is not a song I would put on out of choice, but again I do not dislike it to be honest.  "Parakeet" follows which is a short interlude which is neither important nor useful, but moving on.  "The Selfish Giant" brings back the album proper with a bass and piano opening and soft strings floating in the background; adding a scratch and drum beat and you have quite possibly one of the gloomiest songs I have heard this year.  With backing vocals supplied from Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes, it is a dark tale about a dream of a relationship ending, full of regret and dread.  As good as the song is I felt a shiver of relief when it was over as the world seemed a little brighter for the song being over. This is a compliment by the way, it is that desolate that it makes the world happier when it is ended.

"You & Me" is next, it is the longest track of the album and has a strange story narrative again; but it seems like a more twisted and haunted number than the rest that have gone before.  This track for me is the best thing on offer on the album; it reminds me of a minimalist Malcolm McLaren number and has a sort of post rock feel.  The steel pans and empty working of the music make this an almost unbearably devastating piece of work which I should hate, but I am truly in awe of the work. Damm you Damon!!!! "Hallow Ponds" continues this reflective theme and the addition of a strange choir makes for a more uneasy feeling and it seems as if this album is morphing into Damon's attempt at matching Nick Cave in the dark and vulnerable song writing theatre.  Whilst it is no competitions for the Bad Seeds, it is still another moment which is attempting something different and is surprising.  Next is another interlude in the form of "Seven High", so we will move swiftly on to the next song.

"Photographs (You Are Taking Now)" is the next song starts off with Albarn and other vocals in vocal only movement, merging into another trip hop laced movement that would not be out of place on a Massive Attack record from the 2000's.  There is still the awful feeling that it is all about to go wrong but so far I am being proven wrong.  "This History Of  A Cheating Heart" is heartbreaking and beautiful acoustic number, but is still about a cheating smuck who could not keep it in their pants.  This track was really close to being the album top choice for me and I cannot believe how good a piece of work this is.  Ending the album is "Heavy Seas Of Love" which has guest vocals by Brian Eno; this track is a wave of fun at the end and is a blessed relief to be honest.  A strange and catchy number that had me singing out loud which I would not have expected when I started this review.  It bring the mood up and ends the album perfectly.

Well time for the verdict to be delivered - it would seem that hell has finally frozen over.  I was ready to slice into this album with a fine tooth comb and cut it to pieces, but I cannot do that.  I was ready to mock it like a bad comedian with a limited time slot on BBC TV, but I cannot do that.  This album is a dark slice of the soul which I would not have expected to hear from this man.  There are a few things I would change (get rid of the interludes and not too keen on Mr Tembo), but other than that it is a really, really good album.  I have always said I will praise when praise is deserved and as much as it pains me to say this, I do feel that I have heard a contender for album of the year.  Yes, Eddie Carter - the man who dislikes Blur an awful lot has just said that he expects this to be up there in the album of the year chart.  Hell is experiencing winter conditions.....

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, Almost.....(DAMM YOU ALBARN)

Top Track - You & Me

You can purchase the album from amazon here

You can visit the Damon Albarn website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

For our Deezer user's, here is a link for you

23 April 2014

Calabrese - Born With A Scorpion's Touch

I’ve been meaning to review this album for a while but kept forgetting about it and I’ve not had too much time for this sort of thing of late. I’ve been listening to Calabrese a fair bit lately and find myself with a bit of spare time at work so I thought I’d crack on for a change instead of watching Skyrim videos on Youtube.

Calabrese are a Horror Punk band from Illinois. They consist of three brothers Bobby Calabrese, Jimmy Calabrese and Davey Calabrese. The band’s name is derived from their surname, rather than the strain of broccoli. They have a strong Misfits flavour to them in the style of music, the lyrical themes and Bobby’s voice. He even looks quite a bit like Glenn Danzig. The punk riffs are tempered with a little bit of rockabilly groove however. That, and the dual vocals Bobby shares with Jimmy, give them a little bit of individuality and lift them out of the tribute/copycat pool.
Born With A Scorpion’s Touch is their fifth album and was released last year.  At just over half an hour long it’s a frenetic burst of gothic punk melody. One immediate difference to their previous albums is the production. Whereas in the past it’s tended to be a bit tinny and underwhelming, Born With A Scorpion’s Touch sounds deep, warm and booming. It’s what they’ve needed definitely. Another improvement is the quality of the song writing. Every song on here is great; the only thing approaching filler is the opening track American Rebel Death Riders as it’s a near instrumental and more of an intro than a proper song. It still has a belting riff though.
The title track straddles the middle ground between Misfits and Alkaline Trio. It barrels along nicely and has the sort of chorus you bellow along to yourself without really knowing any of the words. Or is it just me that does that? It fades out leaving what sounds like a harpsichord plonking away.
I Wanna Be A Vigilante starts off slowly and sees bassist Jimmy Calabrese crooning gently before Bobby adds some nice harmonies before the chorus picks things up. It’s a mid-paced song that’s as infuriatingly catchy as the song before it.

At Night I Am The Warmest is the most Misfitsy song on the album. You can almost see the DEVILOCKS bouncing along in enthusiastic joy. Loner At Heart sees Jimmy taking most of the lead vocals and is the most aggressive song so far.  Mindwarp is next and carries on the urgent pace but takes a few listens to appreciate. The guitar in this song, particularly in the final section, reminds me of The Wildhearts which is always nice.

(L-R) Bobby, Jimmy and Davey

Danger begins slowly with an undulating guitar line and a weird mumbly sample. Much like Mindwarp before it’s not as immediate as other songs on the album but it’s a grower all the same.

Ride With The Living Dead sees some nice vocal interplay between Bobby and Jimmy. Only The Dead Know My Name is another song that sounds very much like the Misfits, though the chorus melody has more of a rock n’ roll feel to it. It’s an excellent song and the longest of the album even though it’s still less than four minutes long. I Ride Alone is the final fast paces song on the album and is a great way to end, good chorus, pounding riff and a pervading air of menace.

The final song on the album is a bit of a departure for the band. There Is An Evil Inside tells the tale of a killer who murders a teenage girl. It starts with a lone guitar until Bobby starts crooning, joined shortly by Jimmy. It slowly builds up until finally developing into a full on Psychobilly breakdown. The whole song is incredibly infectious and I’ve been singing it constantly since I first listened to it. It’s getting annoying now.

Born With A Scorpion’s Touch is probably Calabrese’s best album yet. They might not be the most innovative or unique band around but the three brothers have a great chemistry, good songs and are a lot of fun and that’s all that should matter.

I didn’t know this had even been released until a couple of months ago and I’m kicking myself for not knowing sooner because Born With A Scorpion’s Touch would absolutely have been in my top ten albums of last year.

Favourite Track: There Is An Evil Inside

8 out of 10 - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Listen to it on Spotify HERE

Buy it on Amazon HERE

21 April 2014

Eels - The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett


When I set to writing this I first checked to see if any of their earlier albums had been reviewed on the blog already, if only to save me the faff of back story, and they haven’t. I find this very peculiar and also irritating as it causes me a little bit of extra work. Harrumph.

Eels, for the few of you who don't know, are an Indie Rock band based around main man E (or Mark Oliver Everett as per the title of this album). They were formed in 1995 and had massive success with their debut single Novocaine For The Soul from the album Beautiful Freak. Since then they’ve released several albums (The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett is their eleventh studio album) and compilations. The themes of various albums have differed though the majority of them are fairly morose and depressing. Morose and depressing in a good way...

Whilst I would consider Eels to be one of my favourite bands, I also feel their last few albums have been somewhat rushed and patchy; the last great album being 2005’s Blinking Lights And Other Revelations. Last year’s release was Wonderful, Glorious which was a lot more upbeat, both musically and lyrically than previous albums and it’s probably the best they’ve done since Blinking Lights.  I was hoping this album would continue that upwards trend and not disappoint again.

The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett actually began life before Wonderful, Glorious was recorded. The band were in the process of recording the new album when E became uncomfortable with the direction the songs were headed, shelved the lot and started afresh with Wonderful, Glorious.
After a world tour, they returned to the shelved songs, reworked and rewrote them. These became The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett.

The album is notably more subdued than Wonderful, Glorious and the subject matter much more melancholy. The music is very minimal and stark in places though this adds to the feel of the album rather than detracting from it.

Eels like beards.

The album is set around three songs that serve as chapter descriptions, Where I’m At, Where I’m From and Where I’m Going. The OCD in me hates that they feature on the album in that order. Where I’m At opens the album and is a short instrumental piece, Where I’m From is probably the liveliest song on the album being a bouncy, acoustic country song and Where I’m Going is gentle piano ballad that ends the album with a burst of positiveness which is most welcome by the time it comes around.

The first proper song on the album is Parallels, it’s a typical Eels song, mid paced, miserable but oddly catchy,

Agatha Chang gives us some clue as to the change in mood of this album compared to the last as it’s all about a girl he lost and wished he hadn’t. There’s another Country feel to it but much darker and slower than Where I’m From.

Series Of Misunderstandings begins with some haunting Glockenspiel and some nice “Ooh-ooh”’s. Again, it deals with regret over lost love and is beautiful in its misery.

Gentleman’s Choice and Answers are the most minimal songs on the album; both feature nothing more than E’s gravelly voice and some gentle keyboards. They kind of blend into each other but are both pretty songs.

Mistakes Of My Youth picks up the momentum a little and throws in a little hope too. It’s a nice little foot tapper that might do for a single were one to be released. (EDIT - After searching for a video to put at the bottom of this I found that one has been made for this song! I should be a record company exec, I could do that shit.)

I'm happy to say that The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett is indeed a step in the right direction. My only problem with it is maybe a 51yr old man shouldn't be writing songs about getting dumped. Happens to everyone at some point though I guess.

There is also a deluxe version available that features a second disc of bonus tracks and live versions of older songs. If you’re gonna buy/download the album then you may as well plump for that one as the half dozen or so new songs are worth having.

8 out of 10 – Oh now you have my time, money etc etc.

Favourite Track: Series Of Misunderstandings

Listen to the deluxe version on Spotify HERE

Buy it From Amazon HERE

Epica - The Phantom Agony

More symphonic metal from The Low Countries and probably at no better a time either as Epica have their soon to be released sixth album in the twelve or so years they've been together, so I thought to begin reviewing their entire discography, starting with this curtain raiser The Phantom Agony. Before that, first a little background information from the Dutch sextet. Initially called Sahara Dust albeit briefly, the male/female voices of the band are Simone Simons rubbing shoulders along the ubiquitous death grunts from guitarist Mark Jansen. Their music follows the tried and trusted format of sharp and heavy six stringwork coupled with a choir and a small clutch of various classical stringed instruments, some gothic, some progressive as well as power metal.

From the same stable as After Forever (of which Mark Jansen is a former member), Within Temptation and ReVamp, Miss Simons is a classically trained soprano who at first listen could certainly Finnish operatic chanteuse Tarja Turunen as one of her influences. All six band members are credited with the musical composition, while Simons and Jansen are the chief scribes behind the wording. The lyrical themes behind the songs deal largely with philosophy, science, world issues and religion in general. Jansen's purposefully distorted singing, almost hushed as well, follows along a similar ring to Amorphis's Tomi Joutsen.

At the beginning is the brief two minute Adyta (The Neverending Embrace), a string octet introduction before the choral group utters a couple of lines in Latin followed by the album opener proper Sensorium. It's a steady not too thrashy beat, good rhythm as well although there's more emphasis on the keyboard work rather than the shredding. Hopefully there'll be more guitarring as the album progresses. As mentioned above, some of Epica's work deals with some worldly affairs, and the next track Cry For The Moon deals with the rather thorny issue of Catholic priests abuse of children, bringing out some heavy truths and naturally bringing the apparent perpetrators to account.

Next track is Feint which looking at the wording seems to suggest a loss of innocence. In fact it deals with the murder of Pim Fortuyn, a Dutch politician noted for his rather controversial and perhaps anti-multiculturalist views and I think from a commentary point of view, Epica have got these observations right on the mark and probably right where it hurts too. We're coming up to the end of the first half of Phantom Agony, where Illusive Consensus picks the beat up rather briskly and Simone Simons is concentrating on the slightly higher alto notes. An album filler I suspect with a few more Latin lines written into it, as is the next track Facade Of Reality. Yet another contentious track this time charting the events of 9/11 but it's one that sticks with me well. More emphasis on the drumwork, the guitars as well as the orchestral backdrops and choral work, it's the best of all worlds, with a couple of Tony Blair soundbites included in a more full blooded performance.

There's echoes of Metallica's Nothing Else Matters with the introductory acoustics of Run For A Fall although midway through it the pace becomes more power metal-based and Jansen's guttural vocals feature once again in a few lines. The theme feels mystical if hinting towards the reasons behind his departure from After Forever. Even Islamic fundamentalism isn't safe from the scathing criticisms with the next track Seif Al Din, granted it isn't as blatant as some Iraqi grindcore act I recall that were once screaming "Fuck the Quran!" but still as on the subtle edge nevertheless. The title song Phantom Agony again features Jansen but the precedence is set by the heavy string combo and the choir which feels more gothic based than anything else in the metal inventory.

There's another 13 tracks on the Spotify release, but they're predominantly orchestral versions of the above tracks. Aside from them, there's Veniality with its deft stickwork, which feels a bit lightweight sans the shredding, but made up in the instrumental Triumph Of Defeat, which feels very prog-rock, very Rick Wakeman with the added bonus of hammer ons. Now I mentioned lightweight and that's what this album feels like. If I was ever going to compare Epica to one of my all time loves in Nightwish, they may claim to be of the same metal genre, but the latter is much heavier and much more punchy than Miss Simons and Co. or compatriots Within Temptation. But too cruel to compare in my opinion, and where Epica may lose out in terms of metal punch, the gains made on their fellow peers is in the songwriting. Hoping that more guitarwork is featured in the forthcoming album The Quantum Enigma.

7 out of ten. This is good and well worth a check.
Best track : Facade of Reality

Led Zeppelin - Coda

We're nearing the completion of Led Zeppelin's review discography and as well may be expected, Coda was the act's final studio recorded album released two years after the untimely death of drummer John Bonham. To Robert Plant, Bonham is simply irreplaceable and his friend's passing left an enormous void. Two months later, and I suspect the final decision was ultimately left in the hands of Plant, the band decided that it was simply not possible to continue. Sure, they did reunite several times over the years, but the Live Aid performance with Phil Collins was by their admission substandard and likewise at Atlantic Records' 40th Anniversary celebrations a couple of years later. It was only at the O2 Arena in 2007 for the record boss's tribute show when The 'Zep rediscovered their funk that it captured the hearts of minds of the millions they had brought their music to.

LZ did record plenty of tracks that never made it to their previous albums, and despite the apparent public pressure to have their final tracks heard notwithstanding the bootleg discs on hand, the impression Jimmy Page seemed to give is that there was never any urgency to get this on the shelves. Basically, all the tracks have emerged from their album recordings as outtakes in their whole discography and several Page has re-recorded himself. A half empty barrel full of broken biscuits? On a couple of listens, I'm confident in reporting no. First track is one of their early recordings, the Ben E King cover We're Gonna Groove which I have watched on the DVD live performance at the Albert Hall in 1970 and one I thoroughly enjoyed. However, on this version, I do have a bit of beef about. There's a smidgen too much multi-layering retrospectively and the two guitar takes are competing against each other on some mistiming. This track was often twinned up with I Can't Quit You Baby, another Blues number which also makes an appearance on Coda. This take, like the previous track, is from the aforementioned concert but with the audience acoustics omitted from the final product, while staying true to their early Blues influences.

Bonzo's Montreux was originally a Bonham piece where his stickwork appears to be the only intended instrumentation on the track, until some Page electronic backdrop wizardry does enough to keep this from being a filler threatening to lose your attention. Three tracks from this were recorded during the In Through The Out Door sessions, Ozone Baby, Darlene, and Wearing And Tearing. First one is a basic Page/Plant composition, and as are most of the tracks on the final album itself, it's a simple rock jam, perhaps a complete departure from their original roots. Darlene sees John Paul Jones working the ivories on a Honky Tonk piano and Mr Plant is sounding ever increasingly rustic and coarse (on purpose is my impression), and I also suspect paying his own tribute to Fats Domino. It's then back to a brisk beat rock n' roller with Wearing and Tearing with echos of Black Dog with its vocalist-leads-instrumentation and rhythm that smacks of The Boomtown Rats.

Some tracks included retrospectively on the 1993 CD release that aren't on Spotify are the excellent Hey Hey What Can I Do, a pleasing acoustic based B-side to Immigrant Song which leaves me staggered as to why it wasn't on a previous album. It's one of my recent favourite tracks and makes me feel like an eighteen year old again. There's also Travelling Riverside Blues, (already featured on the BBC Sessions, click on this link to read the blog) and Baby Come On Home. It's one of their very first recorded tracks, slow Love Letters-esque beat and melodies that I'm assuming they didn't include as it didn't keep in with the newly discovered metal theme that several acts were trying to carve at the end of the 1960s.

With just about most of their material exhausted, Coda, as I said earlier, could've been nothing more than a barrel full of broken biscuits. However, it's thanks in no small part to Jimmy Page's technical wizardry that this is a fine piece as an end result. In many ways I actually prefer this to their previous two albums, Presence and In Through The Out Door, probably as this essentially is a retrospective offering spanning right through Led Zeppelin's career. Coda has certainly bursed a couple of pleasant of surprises along the way in the three times I've listened to it.

7 out of ten. This is good and well worth a check.
Best track : I Can't Quit You Baby

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