- Achilles Last Stand
Name = Achilles Last Stand
March 31, 1976
track_no = 1
Recorded = November–December 1975
Length = 10:25
Label = Swan Song
Writer = Page/Plant
next = "
For Your Life"
next_no = 2
Misc = Audiosample
Upper caption = Audio sample
Audio file = Led Zeppelin Achilles Last Stand.ogg"Achilles Last Stand" [The apostrophe, which should rightly be in the phrase "Achilles' Last Stand" in correct English, is not present in this song title.] is a song by English rock group
Led Zeppelin, featured as the opening track on their 1976 album " Presence". It was written by Jimmy Pageand Robert Plantat Page's house in Malibu, Californiawhere they stayed for a month while Plant recovered from a serious car accidenthe had sustained in Greecein 1975. The song was then recorded at Musicland Studiosin Munich, Germany.
"Achilles Last Stand", at 10 minutes and 25 seconds, is the third longest studio recording released by Led Zeppelin (after "
In My Time of Dying" at 11:06 and " Carouselambra" at 10:34). It is famous for John Bonham's powerful drumming, John Paul Jones's galloping bass line (played on a custom-built Alembic eight string bass) and Jimmy Page's overdubbed orchestral guitar arrangement (the dozen or so guitar tracks having been recorded in Munich in a single session). It is also known for its dramatic, epic guitar solo which is considered by many to be among Page's best. Jimmy Page applied vari-speedduring production of this song to speed it up, one of the few times he employed that device in the studio for Led Zeppelin songs. [Brad Tolinski and Greg Di Bendetto, "Light and Shade", "Guitar World", January 1998.] In 1977, he explained:
It has been suggested that the title of the song was an acknowledgment of Plant's broken ankle, which he suffered as a result of his car accident. Lyrically, the song was inspired by Plant's experiences in
Morocco, where he and Page travelled following Led Zeppelin's 1975 Earl's Court concerts.Dave Lewis (1994), "The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin", Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.] Plant specifically refers to Morocco's Atlas Mountainsin the line: "The mighty arms of Atlas hold the heavens from the Earth". This is a double-meaning to imply the Atlas mountains in a physical sense seeming to hold up the sky, as well as the reference to the Titan Atlas and his task to hold up the sky on his shoulders and thus separate it from the Earth. Plant's lyrics were also inspired by some of the poetry he was reading at the time, which includes William Blake. "Albion remains/sleeping now to rise again" is a reference to Blake's engraving "The Dance Of Albion". The following is an excerpt from the poem that goes with the song::"Albion rose from where he labour'd at the Mill with Slaves.
Giving himself for the Nations he danc'd the dance of Eternal Death."
Albionis the most ancient name of Great Britain.
The line "Below the streets that steam and hiss / The devil is in his hole" refers to a Victorian tourist attraction the band visited whilst in Saint Mary,
Jersey. Fact|date=May 2008 Named "Devil's Hole", it featured a statue of a devil, in a hole. [ [http://www.nationaltrustjersey.org.je/coast/ab_points_C.html The National Trust for Jersey Coastline Campaign 2006 - Helping to save and protect Jersey, Channel Island's coastline ] ]
Jimmy Page has been quoted as saying that "Achilles Last Stand" is his favorite Led Zeppelin song. Not surprisingly, it became an integral component of almost every Led Zeppelin concert from their 1977 tour of the United States onwards. Though Page initially expected that he would need to use his
Gibson EDS-1275double-necked guitar to play the song live, he realised that it was possible to use the Gibson Les Paul(or occasionally a red Telecaster).Dave Lewis (1994), "The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin", Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.] One live version, from Led Zeppelin's performance at Knebworth in 1979, is featured on disc 2 of the " Led Zeppelin DVD".
Page has mentioned that this song, like several others the band recorded which involved guitar overdubs, was quite challenging to adapt for the stage:
"Achilles Last Stand" was used in the film "
Dogtown and Z-Boys" (2001), one of the few times the band allowed a number from its catalogue to be used in a motion picture.
The bridge changes 4/4 time to 5/4 time, and uses triplets.
Progressive metal group
Dream Theaterrecorded a medley of Led Zeppelin songs for their 1995 EP " A Change of Seasons", which featured parts of "Achilles Last Stand".
*Review: [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=33:09p1z85a5yy5 Allmusic]
*"Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused: The Stories Behind Every Song", by Chris Welch, ISBN 1-56025-818-7
*"The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin", by Dave Lewis, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9
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