Monthly Archives: August 2015

Today’s Song I’m Fixated On: Led Zeppelin – “If It Keeps On Raining”

“When The Levee Breaks” is one of Led Zeppelin’s most famous songs. It is a behemoth of a song, closing their hard-rocking fourth album with a hurricane of guitars and one of the most propulsive backbeats in rock history.

Over the last several years, Jimmy Page has been slowly overhauling Led Zeppelin’s catalog by remastering all of the band’s albums and providing a bevy of bonus tracks with each release. This project has just finished with the rerelease of Presence, In Through The Out Door, and Coda, the band’s final three albums.

Coda, itself a grab-bag of previously unreleased tracks, perhaps got the most interesting studio outtakes, grabbed from throughout the band’s history, seeming to want to close the series out with a bang.




The most interesting alternate take is “If It Keeps On Raining,” an early version of “When The Levee Breaks” that presents the song before it became the epic it was destined to be.

It is evident from the first second that this song is going to be a completely different sonic experience from the version of “When The Levee Breaks” we’re used to. Instead of hearing John Bonham’s drums crash through at the beginning of the song, the drums and bass begin to settle themselves into a steady, driving groove. John Paul Jones’ bass is much more forward and audible than on the original version, and Bonham has not yet developed the iconic drum beat that the song is most known for. The parring down of Bonham’s drums turn this song less into a hard rock onslaught and more into the realm of a blues-rock stomp.

Adding to the contextualizing of this more as blues is Robert Plant, whose vocal is more toned-down and dark, blending more into the mix. Plant sounds more like a bluesman on this take, warning of the flood ahead instead of being part of it.

Overall, this song is a close sibling to the master version. It sounds like after a few takes, Led Zeppelin left the studio to debut the in-progress song at a small club gig. The song feels alive, cohesive, and more in harmony with itself than the original version, making it a very nice alternative that still rocks.

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