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Everyone thinks 'Coda' is Led Zeppelin's worst album — but it's really surprisingly great

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Led Zeppelin Coda

The 1980s are not generally regarded as a great time for the band that was at that point formerly known as Led Zeppelin.

In truth, they weren't a band during the Reagan era — they were the three surviving members of a band, following the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980 and the group's decision to call it quits.

The conventional story of what happened to Zep at this juncture goes like this. The band was already slipping into irrelevance, as its signature brand of heavy, heavy, heavy blues rock and Celtic folk thunder had been displaced by punk, with its raw energy and distinct lack of respect for its elders.

The rebooting effort of "In Through the Out Door" in 1978 divided the group, with singer Robert Plant and bassist/keyboard player John Paul Jones pushing toward a different sound — less hard, less "animal" as Plant once put it.

Guitarist and producer Jimmy Page and the ill-fated Bonham, their struggles with the rock-n-roll lifestyle not withstanding, were reportedly considering a return to form with Zep's next record, although Page was in my view wrestling with his own devotion to the blues while not ignoring the punk onslaught. 

Bonham's passing ended what was in retrospect an overblown civil war in the band: Page dropped out of sight for a year, Jones continued on working with a variety of different musicians, and Plant launched a reluctant but wildly successful solo career (as a teenager in the early 1980s, Led Zeppelin often seemed like a distant legend from the pre-MTV era, while Plant was a lively if confusing presence in the video age).

led zeppelin 02Page would resurface and collaborate with Plant and Page's old Yardbirds mate, Jeff Beck, forming the Honeydrippers; later, Page would team up with Paul Rodgers and create the Firm, and also undertake what critics have generally regarded as a meandering post-Zep existence, but what in retrospect now looks like an individualistic an actually creatively worthwhile episode of mourning for the end of Led Zeppelin, Bonham's death, and in a sense the demise of the Very Big Rock Sound of the 1970s, which Page was instrumental in developing.

The 1980s low point for Zep was the 1985 Live Aid concert, a ragged and largely unrehearsed reunion that wasn't corrected until 2007, when the band reunited in London and turned in an astonishing performance that for Zep fans has the power of a religious event.

In the midst of all this messiness in the 1980s, the band's most unloved album appeared, "Coda," a collection of unreleased studio material. 

For a teen of the 1980s who had experienced the British invasion and Zep's subsequent 1970s dominance secondhand, "Coda" presented the opportunity to actually buy a new Led Zeppelin record in 1982, rather than slap a copy of "Led Zeppelin IV" from 1971 on the turntable to spin it backwards and see if there were any secret demonic messages on "Stairway to Heaven."

Led Zeppelin Coda

I don't remember liking the record all that much, but that was due to both its shambolic absence of cohesiveness — and my own haphazard exposure to the Zep timeline.

The band was in it origins an aggressive proponent of the blues — specifically, the Chicago blues or city blues, distinct from the un-electrified country blues. You needed to have started with Led Zeppelin I, released in 1969, and not had your ears saturated with a million spins of "Stairway" on the radio in the '70s to understand that.

Luckily, as a part of a massive remastering and re-issuing of the entire Zep catalog, Page has added some context and credibility to "Coda," integrating it with the larger musical Zeppelin narrative that's been his life's work for the past ten years (Page just turned 73).

There are really three Led Zeppelins: the live band, the studio ensemble, and the entity that appears on the albums. Of these, the studio ensemble is arguably the most interesting. Live, the band was ferocious early on, but over time it morphed into a huge and dramatic arena group that sacrificed a vibe that made it perhaps the finest blues-rock garage band every assembled. 

The album Zep embodies Page's many ideas about recording and production and is accordingly an artificial construct, by design — a musical vehicle for listening to entire vinyl records, both sides, on good stereos. In fact, the first four Zep albums are a long suite of music, the expression of a synthesis of major strands in Western music, from blues to folks to classical. They can stand up to the the most important Beatles records and are challenged only by the 1968-1973 run of the Rolling Stones, starting with "Beggars Banquet" and ending with "Goats Head Soup."

The studio ensemble was the foursome that worked all of this out. By remastering the Zep catalog and including a huge amount of the studio material, Page has illuminated this aspect of the band's existence and certainly redeemed even "Coda, which now serves a useful purpose and gracefully presages the magnificent final remastered release, the Deluxe Edition of the "Complete BBC Sessions," perhaps my personal favorite Zep album.

There's a looseness to the Deluxe Edition "Coda" that's more obvious than in the 1982 release. Yes, there some real gems, such as the Page and Plant collaborations with the Bombay Orchestra. But the recordings also convey the disciplined joy that the group explored in the studio.

Led Zeppelin Deluxe Edition Coda

The delicious groove that Bonham and Jones set up, punctuated with Bonzo's explosive fills, establishes an hypnotic, surging background for the interplay between Plant and Page. And the remastered "Coda" is crammed with cool guitars sounds and textures.

As a player, Page has been captured by his mid-1970s image: the dragon-suited rock god swaggering in front tens of thousands of fans, wielding his Les Paul or his Gibson doubleneck, giving birth to everybody from Eddie Van Halen to Slash. But the man was really a thoroughgoing studio geek whose adventurousness as a producer is, to my mind, ultimately more significant than his skills with the six-strings. As Zepland asks itself year after year, "Where's Jimmy?" in response to his infrequent appearances and lack of any new music, it might be worth thinking of his master vision as a producer and composer, rather than as a guitarist.

So we get, for example, the funky growl of "St. Tristan's Sword," an instrumental mix that shows just how delightfully locked in Page and Jones could be. Led Zeppelin had an embarrassment of musicianship in the group, and with cuts like this, it's vividly on display.

A rough mix of "Bring It On Home" has a feral, sweaty vitality that showcases Zep's filthy, post-Stones sex appeal and reminds us of just how indebted Jack White is to the more lo-fi aspects of Zep's sound. The spacey, elegiac "Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light)" rough mix is one of the few examples in popular music of what a hard blues synth New Wave band would sound like as it was working out the details (the tune appears on 1975's epic "Physical Graffiti" double-album). 

led zeppelin

All this extra stuff provides a freshness to the re-released original tracks on "Coda," especially the blistering bluesers, such as "I Can't Quit You Baby," the Willie Dixon standard from Led Zeppelin's debut album and on "Coda" taken from a live recording when the band was just tearing it up (for the record, Dixon and Zep tangled over copyright issues before his death as a result of Zep's liberal borrowings from the blues legacy).

And the group's eulogy for Bonham, the drum solo "Bonzo's Montreux," now sounds properly like a true coda for the force of nature behind the skins. "Baby Come On Home" is a luscious soul number that suggests an alternate-universe version of soundtrack from "The Big Chill" and reminds us of Page and Jones' chameleon talents as onetime session guys. "Sugar Mama," another old blue tune, is just a flat-out hoot.

Zep was a great big gigantic band, an impression that anyone could form based on the group's records. But the remasterings and Deluxe Editions showcase a group that was even bigger than we previously thought. I realize that statement comes off like the raving of a fan, but the sheer scale of Zep's musical contribution is the revelation of the sequence of re-releases. They were accused of being dinosaurs when "Coda" came out. They were dinosaurs. 

But don't forget: the dinosaurs were big.

And as "Coda" proves, big dinosaurs who could have a lot of fun.

SEE ALSO: 'Stairway to Heaven' is an epic Led Zeppelin song — but here are 3 that outdo it

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I tried the sushi burrito, the 'mutant food' San Franciscans are obsessed with — take a look

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sushirrito sushi burrito review photos 2103

"Mutant foods" from the cronut to the ramen burger come and go, disappearing from social media as quickly as they blow up. But San Francisco's passion for the sushi burrito refuses to die.

When we first laid eyes on the mythical sushirrito" on Reddit in 2013, it seemed too good to be true: a sushi roll swollen to the size of a burrito, stuffed with veggies, sauces, rice, and raw fish, and eaten with your hands. Fast-forward four years, and people are still forming lines outside Sushirrito, a Bay Area restaurant chain that claims to be the birthplace of this beastly food.

I stopped by Sushirrito's location in SoMa to see if the sushi burrito meets the hype.

SEE ALSO: This fast-food chain you've probably never heard of is making a killing selling $8 burgers

Sushirrito founder Peter Yen created the sushi burrito based on a craving.



Today, the restaurant chain has six locations in the Bay Area and one in New York's Flatiron neighborhood. There's usually a line out the door.

 



Ropes barricade the door, as if hungry patrons are clamoring to get into a club.



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Here's the science behind why it's so hard to maintain eye contact when you're talking to someone

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headshot janice theard face smile eyes

Why do you glance off to the side when you speak? It's like you're trying to pull a word out of some blank space in the distance.

Breaking eye contact mid-sentence is a strange habit, but almost everyone seems to do it every once in a while.

And a pair of researchers at Kyoto University in Japan offer an intriguing answer as to why in a new study, which will be published in the journal Cognition.

They suggest that maintaining eye contact requires a level of mental effort and uses up your brain's resources.

So sometimes, when you speak, the tasks of coming up with the next word and maintaining eye contact become too much for your brain to handle. Then — snap — your attention shifts to the middle distance, and all the extra oomph in your head goes toward picking your next word.

Here's how the researchers came to their conclusions.

We know from a previous study that different word-associations are more or less hard to come up with. And there's different reasons you might take time to come up with a word.

Some word association tasks are hard because there are too many options. That means the mechanism in your mind for picking a word has to run longer, but it doesn't tax your conscious thought.

For example: Try to come up with a verb for the word scissors.

Now come up with a verb for the word ball.

Typically people think of a word faster for scissors, because there's only really one good option: cut.

But if you have a ball you can kick it, throw it, catch it, or play with it.

And then there are the word associations that don't overwhelm you with choice anxiety, but have weak enough connections that you have to consciously think about them to pick a verb.

So if you're given the word car, it's not too hard to get to drive, so you probably don't have to think about it. But if the word is leaf, you might have to mull it over a bit before getting to fall.

nihms296950f1For the eye contact study, the researchers had 26 participants play the word association game while making eye contact with a computer-generated face.

They found that eye contact did make it harder to think of words, so the participants would take longer to think of them. But the effect was only significant when trying to make weak connections, like that between leaf and fall ;— the sort that require conscious thought to come up with.

That means eye contact doesn't directly interfere with the mental task of picking words. But it takes some cognitive effort to maintain. So when you're speaking and you come to a word you have to actively think to come up with, the two tasks come into conflict.

And then, perhaps, you might glance away.

SEE ALSO: We have less ice in the world right now than any November on record — but don't panic yet

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Inside New York’s most exclusive private car club featuring a fleet of $300,000 rides

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Classic Car Club of Manhattan owns 40 of the most-coveted cars in the world, and members of this ultra-exclusive organization include high-profile entertainers and entrepreneurs.

Zach Wasser and Aaron Brown contributed reporting on a previous version of this article.

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Forget skydiving — thrill-seekers are now paying $5,000 to experience zero gravity

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Not all of us can become an astronaut and fly to space. For just under $5,000 the Zero Gravity Corporation offers flights that create the experience of weightlessness for its passengers.

It's the same method NASA uses to prepare astronauts for zero gravity environments. The technique was also used to shoot the zero gravity scenes in the 1995 Tom Hanks film "Apollo 13."

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A master chef shares his secrets to making the perfect bowl of ramen

The top 15 American cities for young college grads

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san franciscoAs the semester resumes for college seniors around the US, the next important decision many will make is where they should move after graduation.

A ranking of the best major metropolitan areas from the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) may help students having trouble making the call.

AIER calculated its list using nine economic, demographic, and quality-of-life factors. AIER defines major metropolitan cities as having over 2.5 million residents.

The report states that the most important factor in determining where recent graduates should relocate is the prevalence of other young recent grads.

"The location you choose to go to college determines where you will likely spend the next four years of your life, and possibly where you will start your career," Amanda Knarr, program coordinator at AIER, said in a press release. "Our ranking reflects the characteristics that make cities attractive to the average college student."

Aside from the overall ranking, we included cities' individual scores for noteworthy metrics including rent, earnings, and bars and restaurants. Of the nine metrics cities were rated based upon, we chose the one for which they scored highest.

Scroll through to find out the 15 best American cities for young college grads.

SEE ALSO: A high school student shared the powerful essay about growing up in one of America's 'snobbiest' cities that got her into Stanford

15. Miami, Florida

Population: 5,930,416

College student population in the metro area: 445,865

#4 Bars and Restaurants



14. St. Louis, Missouri

Population: 2,801,285

College student population in the metro area: 193,985

#1 Rent



13. Atlanta, Georgia

Population: 5,580,601

College student population in the metro area: 407,257

#1 Bars and Restaurants



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Strange things 9 famous people said right before they died

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Winston Churchill victory wwii

People's last words are fascinating.

Some share a nugget of wisdom, while others throw in one last joke. Somehow, these last words end up capturing an essence of the person who uttered them.

In light of that, Business Insider put together a list of the reported last words of 9 famous historical figures.

SEE ALSO: Here's what happens with your stuff after you die

Bob Marley

Source: The Guardian



Charles Darwin

Source: "Famous Last Words" by Laura Ward



King Louis XIV

Source: "The Complete Idiot's Guide to European History (2nd edition)" by Nathan Barber



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Science reveals the age that you peak at everything

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These are the foods a food-poisoning lawyer refuses to eat

A veterinarian explains why people should avoid letting a dog lick their face

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People often think a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's mouth. According to Dr. Leni K. Kaplan of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, the reason people believe this because when a dog licks a wound, it can remove debris and contamination, which sometimes expedites the healing process.

However, the fact is a dog's mouth is riddled with bacteria, and coming in contact with contaminated saliva presents a risk of disease and infection.

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A regular guy tries the trendy barre class that women are obsessed with

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Of all the trendy fitness programs I hear about, one stands out in particular: barre. It seems like only women participate in this unique workout regime, which incorporates technique and conditioning used by ballet dancers. 

It's easy to understand that men might shy away from a workout with such a description. That being said, everything I'd heard about barre suggested that it offers a full-body approach from which both sexes can benefit. 

I got the chance to see what barre is all about in a private lesson studio owner and instructor Katie Muehlenkamp at the Bar Method location in Brooklyn, NY.

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5 ways to spot a fake diamond

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diamond glowing eye woman reutersOne of the most common questions that gemologists are asked is how to tell the difference between a real diamond and a fake stone.

We spoke with Reyne Hirsch, a 20th-century decorative arts expert and consultant for the global online marketplace Lofty, about how to tell when a diamond is real, and when and why to take it to an expert.

Whether it's with jewelry you inherited or something you found at a garage sale, it's easy to do a few simple DIY tests. That necklace you think is just cheap costume jewelry could end up costing a small fortune.

Here are five easy ways to tell if the stone you have is actually a diamond.

SEE ALSO: 15 essential terms everyone should know before buying their first watch

A loupe is a magnifying glass that you can buy at any jewelry store and will let you take a closer look at your gem and setting. 

"When you're looking at a diamond, there are a few things you'll notice," Hirsch told us. "First, the majority of diamonds are made in nature so that means you're going to see some imperfections in the carbon. A fake stone would be perfect — absolutely perfect."

Hirsch explains that certain lab-grown stones will also look perfect through the loupe, and so you should be cautious before discarding perfect gems. It can be a clue, however, that you should take a closer look or bring the stone to an expert. 

Second, observe the diamond's edges. "When you're taking a look at a diamond through a loupe, a real stone is going to have sharp edges, and a fake stone will have rounded edges," Hirsch explained.

Lastly, look at the mounting and etchings, especially any marks that signify what metal was used. "If the metal is gold-plated or silver, chances are it's not a diamond, because why would you put a nice stone mounted in such a cheap metal?" Hirsch said. "Most diamonds are mounted in gold or set in platinum."

"Also take a look at the mounting itself and how that diamond is set," she added. “If the setting looks like it’s of poor quality, that probably means it’s not going to be a real diamond either.”



This is an easy test, since diamonds are one of the world's hardest materials and won't be scratched by the rough surface. "If it's a diamond, it will remain perfect. If it's a cubic zirconium, it will scratch it up," Hirsch said.



Breathe hot air on your diamond the same way you would if you were fogging up a bathroom mirror. 

"A fake diamond will fog up for a short period of time, whereas a real diamond will not because it won't retain the heat," Hirsch explained. 



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How to survive a fall through frozen ice

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The winter season turns the outdoors into a frosty wonderland. But if you venture too far out onto that beautiful mirror-like frozen lake, it may crack apart beneath your feet. We hope it won't but, if it does, here's what to do.

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If you think you're too old to get fit, check out this record-breaking 105-year-old cyclist

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French cyclist Robert Marchand

Many people take it as a given that after a certain point in our lives, we lose strength.

Sure, if you never ran until your 40th birthday and then trained for a marathon over the next few years, you might be more fit at 45 than you were at 25. But if you're functioning at more or less peak fitness at 50, there's no way you'll be stronger or faster at 60, right? And that seems like it should be even more true as you get older — as we age, we lose both muscle and aerobic capacity, right?

In general, that's true. But it doesn't have to be, as now 105-year-old French cyclist Robert Marchand shows.

Marchand's case, documented in a report recently published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, shows that even at far advanced ages it's possible to get in better shape.

At age 101, Marchand created the world record for the furthest distance cycled by a centenarian in one hour, covering an impressive 24.25 kilometers (14 miles). There hadn't been a centenarian record before, according to The Guardian, but the 100+ category was created so the impressive athlete could show his ability. You'd think that might be enough. But as the case study reports, two years later at age 103, Marchand broke his own record, going a full 26.92 kilometers (16 miles) in the same time.

By doing that he showed that with training, you can do more than just stave off age-related decline — it's possible to actually improve, even after 100 years of life.

And that's pretty inspiring.

As the researchers write in what has to be one of my favorite lines I've ever read in an academic study, that's a big deal for anyone wondering whether things have to go downhill as they age.

"[B]eyond the establishment of new performance records at an extremely old age, the possibility for improving their performance and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) during this last period of life is a way for 'adding life to the life' rather than searching to 'kill the death.'"

French cyclist Robert Marchand cycling aging elderly

Older and faster

Marchand was not a lifelong cyclist. From age 15 to age 25, he was into it, but one of his coaches told him he should give it up, saying he wasn't good enough. For decades, life working as a gardener and wine dealer kept him off the bike. It wasn't until he was in his late 60s that he began to pick the sport back up.

He was good and accomplished impressive feats — good enough that, years later, researchers wanted him to be part of a study that he volunteered for that would show how much of an impact training could have on a centenarian. He was in good health at the time, with no heart, respiratory, or circulatory issues, and not on any medication.

Before his first centenarian record, he went through a series of tests. They happened at least two hours after a meal on a day he'd been asked to avoid caffeine. At the time, he was able to crank out 90 W of power at his peak and hit an impressive VO2max — a measure of how much oxygen his muscles could use — of 31 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute (mL/(kg·min)).

Shortly thereafter, he set that first record. The "hour" performance test in cycling is generally considered one of the best ways to measure athletic performance, since it follows specific rules and demonstrates something very clear.

After that first performance, Marchand embarked on a training program. For the next two years, he covered 5,000 kilometers per year, spending 80% of his time at a light pace and 20% going hard.

He stepped back up for a new series of tests at the end of the training. His weight, lean body mass, and heart rate were unchanged, but he was stronger. His VO2max had improved by 13%, to 35mL/(kg·min) and peak power went up 39%, to 125 W. And when he set out for another 60 minute race, he set a new record.

"This study shows for the first time that, at a very old age, VO2max and performance could still be increased with training," the authors of the case study write.

So if you've been feeling like you're over the hill, take heart.

And Marchand hasn't stopped since then. Earlier this month, the 105-year-old created a new record for a new 105+ age category, going 22.547 km in 60 minutes (he says he could have been faster if he hadn't missed the 10 minute warning; his physiologist says he would have been faster if he hadn't given up meat a month ago).

Upon finishing, the AP reports that he said "I'm now waiting for a rival."

SEE ALSO: What we know about people who have the brain of a 'superager'

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