Achilles Last Stand (10:22)

Cover of Presence

From Presence and 65 other releases

“Achilles Last Stand” is a song by English rock group Led Zeppelin, featured as the opening track on their 1976 album Presence. It was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant at Page’s house in Malibu, California where they stayed for a month while Plant recovered from a serious car accident he had sustained in Greece in 1975. The song was then recorded at Musicland Studios in 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. The guitarist applied vari-speed during production of this song to speed it up, one of the few times he employed that device in the studio for Led Zeppelin songs. In 1977, he explained:

I’ll tell you about doing all the guitar overdubs to “Achilles Last Stand.” There were basically two sections to the song when we rehearsed it. I know John Paul Jones didn’t think I could succeed in what I was attempting to do. He said I couldn’t do a scale over a certain section, that it just wouldn’t work.

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