Between 2014-15, Led Zeppelin reissued all nine of its studio albums along with companion discs that included previously unreleased material. And Zep mastermind, guitarist, and producer Jimmy Page unearthed some treats for fans of the legendary band.
The list included “St. Tristan’s Sword,” a heavy instrumental jam recorded during the sessions for Led Zeppelin III (1970). Had the Zep completed that track and included it on III, the album’s tenor might have changed.
You could say the same about “Baby Come on Home,” a track released in ’93 during the first wave of reissues. That soulful track would have shaken up the Zep debut. But the Zep went in a different direction.
“Wearing and Tearing” took a different course. Originally recorded in ’78, Zep could have included the heavy track on In Through the Out Door (1979). Looking back, Page said the band decided against it because it didn’t fit the record’s lighter feel.
Jimmy Page said Led Zeppelin’s ‘Wearing and Tearing’ didn’t fit on the light ‘In Through the Out Door’
Led Zeppelin kept its audience guessing with its first seven LP releases, and that didn’t change with In Through the Out Door. Though it kicked off with the haunting, very Zep “In the Evening,” the band threw listeners several curveballs in the course of the album.
Side 1 was enough to baffle Zep fans weaned on “Whole Lotta Love” and “Immigrant Song.” I doubt anyone was ready for the blast of samba John Bonham delivered on “Fool in the Rain.” Or the country departure that was “Hot Dog.”
By the time listeners got to “Carouselambra” and “All My Love” on side 2, I can’t imagine how that first listen felt. In retrospect, Zep fans see it as a departure like others the band took over the years. But it was definitely the most out-of-character (i.e., the softest) Zep album.
Looking back, that’s exactly why the band didn’t see “Wearing and Tearing” as right for In Through the Out Door. “Because the album was so much lighter, it wouldn’t have fitted,” Page told Classic Rock in 2015. “‘Wearing and Tearing’ was ‘One, two, three, four, charge.’”
Page said the ‘assault’ of ‘Wearing and Tearing’ didn’t sit well next to ‘All My Love’
Though Page appreciates In Through the Out Door for what it is, he’s never raved about the album. “I think they’re good,” he said of “All My Love” and “Carouselambra” in the Classic Rock interview. “They’re all right. It was another dimension.”
That dimension clearly didn’t include “Wearing and Tearing,” which was something of a punk-style workout for the Zep. “My goodness, it was like an assault,” Page said. “It wasn’t in character with something like All My Love.”
So would “Wearing and Tearing” have had a place in the Zep catalogue had Bonham lived? Absolutely. In fact, it might have gone out on Zep’s following LP, which would have been the band’s ninth.
Page has spoken about how he and Bonham planned a heavy return for the follow-up. “Let’s put it this way, on the next Led Zeppelin album, John wouldn’t have been playing with brushes,” Page told Classic Rock.