Black Sabbath were at a standstill when it came time to make their 5th album. The ideas just weren’t coming to guitarist Tony Iommi, and without his massive guitar riffs… well, there just wasn’t any Black Sabbath. Weeks were wasted in the studio until he stumbled onto the riff that became “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath“, and then they were off to the races. That song became the opening cut from the album that would bear its name; and the song that would bring that album to a close is “Spiral Architect“, one of the most epic songs the band ever produced. On this episode, we explore the making of this album along with an examination of one of their most ambitious tracks, “Spiral Architect”.

“Spiral Architect” (Words & Music by Black Sabbath) Copyright 1974 Westminster Music Ltd.


Well, welcome back to the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast network. My name is Brad Page, and each episode of this show, I pick one of my favorite songs and we’ll explore it together, listening to all the elements and components that make it a great song. You don’t have to know anything about music theory or be a musician to enjoy the show– no technical stuff here. We’re just listening to the performances, arrangements and production that go into creating a great song.

On this edition of the podcast, we’re listening to the Masters of Metal, the band that created the template for literally thousands of bands that would follow; one of the most influential bands in rock history, and a song that, by any measure, is one of their creative peaks on record. We’re of course talking about Black Sabbath, and a song called “Spiral Architect”.

Guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward and singer John Michael “Ozzy” Osborne came together in Birmingham, England in 1968, first as the Polka Tulk Blues Band that also included another guitarist and a saxophone player. But they soon slimmed down to a four piece and changed their name to Earth.

But after discovering there was another band named Earth, they changed their name to Black Sabbath. As the story goes, inspired by the Boris Karloff movie of the same name, they released their first album in February 1970– on Friday the 13th. of course– though it didn’t come out in the US until June 1. It’s considered by many to be the first heavy metal album, though no one really called it that at the time. But this was something new, something different, something distinct from psychedelia or blues rock. There had been heavy bands before, but Black Sabbath were tapping into something new.


The album sold pretty well. This wasn’t the kind of band that was going to have hit singles, at least it didn’t seem like it at the time. But these were the days when albums mattered. FM radio was at its peak creatively and you weren’t dependent on three-minute pop singles. There were other ways to find your audience.

Less than a year later, they released their second album, “Paranoid”. What can you say about this album? It’s in the pantheon of classic albums. It refined and defined the sound of heavy metal. It reached number one on the UK charts and number twelve on the US charts.


They followed that with “Masters of Reality”, their third album released in July 1971. Think about that. Three albums of all new material, released within a year and a half of each other… all three of them, classic albums. Incredible. And this is not unique to Black Sabbath. This was the pace of the music industry at this time. Artists were under pressure to deliver one, two, sometimes three albums in a year. And it’s unbelievable to see how many artists delivered. They were able to produce album after album of great material in such a short amount of time.

So, of course, Black Sabbath were at it again, releasing their fourth album, “Vol. Four”, in September 1972. They had gone to Los Angeles to record this one, renting a mansion in Bel Air, where the party never stopped. In fact, it followed them right into the Record Plant recording studio. The drugs were beginning to affect the work, but they were able to pull it together for another solid album.


The exhausting cycle of record, then tour, then record, then tour some more, wore on them. And by 1973, they had to cancel a US tour for their own health and sanity. But, guitarist and de facto band leader Tony Iommi was itching to make another record.

Tony was ambitious. He was watching Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Yes, the Rolling Stones and The Who put out one monstrous album after another. And he wanted a piece of that action, too. He was concerned that Black Sabbath was stagnating and he was putting a lot of pressure on himself.

So they headed back to LA, back to the same studio and that same mansion, figuring it worked for them last time. Except this time, it didn’t.

Maybe it was the pressure, maybe it was the drugs. Maybe it was the surroundings or the distractions, probably combination of all of that. But Tony developed some kind of writer’s block. The ideas just weren’t coming. They spent days, weeks working on new material, but nothing came of it. Eventually, Tony gave up and the band returned to England with nothing to show for it.

Back in England, they set up shop in an 18th century Gothic castle that had been outfitted with a recording studio. Of course, the place was rumored to be haunted; sounds like a perfect place for Black Sabbath.

So they got back to work, but for days, it wasn’t any more productive than their sessions in LA. Until Tony came up with the riff that would become the title song of the next record, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”. That was the key that unlocked his writer’s block. And then they were back in business.

They ended up with a really strong album. The record opens with the title cut, an instant Black Sabbath classic. And the album ends with “Spiral Architect”, one of their most ambitious tracks. “Spiral Architect” is credited to all four members of the band: Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Ozzy Osborne. As usual with most Sabbath songs, Geezer wrote the lyrics.

The album was produced by Black Sabbath and engineered by Mike Butcher. The song begins with Tony Iommi’s acoustic guitar. He’s playing a series of arpeggiated patterns that use a lot of open strings on his guitar, which allows certain notes to ring out clear for long stretches.


Then the electric guitar takes over and the whole mood changes where the acoustic guitar has kind of an intimate, melancholy feel to it. The electric guitar riff sounds big and majestic. Sounds to me like there’s an electric guitar on the right and an acoustic a little lower in the mix on the left. Then when the band comes in, there’s another electric guitar added on the left. I’m not sure if the acoustic guitar is still in there or not. See what you think. Here we get a new riff. This one has almost a jazzy prog-rock element to it. I don’t know if they intended it or not, but I think that riff has a spiral feel to it. And then there’s a simple but pretty effective drum fill by Bill Ward that leads us into the first verse. Now let’s hear that all together and onwards into the first verse.


Interesting chord progression behind the verse. Probably not what most people would expect when they think of Black Sabbath. Let’s hear just the instrumental track.

And this is a great vocal from Ozzy. He’s in really good form here. One thing you will always hear on Ozzy vocals is double-tracking. From what I’ve read, he will record one line at a time, and then sing that line again, trying to match it as closely as he can. And he’ll do that, one line at a time, through the whole song. Of course, you can never do it 100% the same, but that is what makes double-tracking special, as opposed to using a short echo or chorus effect ,or digitally copying the part. Those small little differences are what can make double-tracking sound magical.


Next, we land at the first chorus. Musically, this part is great, too. There’s a string section here that really adds some drama. And I like the way Geezer Butler’s bass primarily hangs around one note while the rest of the music swirls around him. Let’s hear just the instrumental tracks first.


It leads back to the main riff at the end of the chorus there. Let’s hear it with Ozzy’s vocals added back in.

Bill Ward is augmenting his drums there with timpani, those big kettle drums that booming sound really adds to the orchestral feel. It just makes that part sound so epic. Let’s back it up a bit and listen for those timpani drums.

Let’s listen to Bill Ward’s drum fill there. And here’s the second verse.

Then comes the second chorus, and the lyrics here are a little different this time around.

You know, Black Sabbath has this reputation for being dark and foreboding, and of course they’ve earned that. But not every song is like that. This song is really life-affirming. Geezer Butler wrote these lyrics sitting on his front yard watching the sun come up… life was good, and I think that’s what this song is about. At least that’s what I take from it. In a world that can often be harsh, you got to learn to appreciate the good.

“Of all the things I value most in life,
I see my memories and feel their warmth
 and know that they are good.”

Let’s hear that full chorus.


That leads us into an extended instrumental section. But there’s no wailing guitar solo in this song. Instead, you’re taken further on this epic journey largely by the strings.

In the credits for this song, besides guitar, Tony Iommi is credited for playing bagpipes. But in his autobiography, “Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath”, he says he never actually played bagpipes on this song. He wanted to. In fact, he bought a set of bagpipes, brought them into the studio and started blowing into them, but nothing came out. He spent hours on it, and eventually decided that these bagpipes must be defective. So he sent them back to the store. They checked them out and said, “there’s nothing wrong with these”. So he took them back into the studio and attached a vacuum cleaner to them, figuring that that would blow some air into them. But the only sound he got on tape was the noise from the vacuum cleaner. After wasting a few more hours on that, he gave up. I love that story.

Instead, they just went with the strings, which were arranged by Will Malones up in the mix.

And now the final verse. The strings are especially great here, too.


Let’s hear the vocals on this final chorus.


Now this end is very intriguing. It builds to this huge climax. Then there’s the sound of an audience applauding that was overdubbed by their engineer, Mike Butcher. He probably pulled that from some sound effects library or something.

Okay, fine. I can see how that’s a nice way to end the song, and the album, with a round of applause. But then the band comes back in, mostly the bass and drums, and just kind of jams for a minute for a short fade-out. Is that anticlimactic or is that representative of the never- ending song, the continuing journey, the endless spiral? You decide.


Black Sabbath – “Spiral Architect”

The album “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” sold well. It became a fan favorite, and actually earned them some good reviews for once. More importantly, though, it’s a favorite among the band members themselves.

In his book, Tony said “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” was the pinnacle. Ozzy called it their “final album”, which of course, it wasn’t– they would make more albums after that– but what he meant was that after “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, they lost their way a bit. It was never the same. There would be good songs after that, but this was the beginning of the end.  Ozzy quit the band in 1977, but came back, and then was fired for good in 1979. Bill Ward left in 1980.

Of course, there would be reunions down the road, and pretty miraculously, all four original members are still alive today at the time of this recording. That’s saying something.

Thanks for joining me once again on the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. We’re not going anywhere– we’ll be back in about two weeks with another new episode. In the meantime, you can find all of our previous shows on our website,, or find us on your favorite podcast app.

And if you’re still looking for even more music related podcasts, be sure to check out the other shows right here on the Pantheon Podcast Network.

If you want to support the show, the absolute best thing you can do is to tell a friend about it. Share the show with your music love and friends, because that helps to spread the word.

I can’t wait to get back here and do the next episode, so I will see you soon. Thanks for listening to this edition on “Spiral Architect” by Black Sabbath.

Gary Moore was never a household name, but among guitar players, he was a legend.  He reinvented himself multiple times over his 40-year career: first as a hard-rocker with Thin Lizzy, then a jazzy prog-rocker with Colosseum in the 70’s; pioneering a modern heavy-metal sound in the 80’s, and playing the blues in the ‘90’s.  On this episode, we delve into a track from his 1987 Celtic-flavored hard rock album, “Wind Frontier”.

“Over The Hills and Far Away” (Gary Moore) Copyright 1986 EMI 10 Music Ltd. All rights in the US and Canada controlled and administered by EMI Virgin Songs, Inc

— This show is just one of many great Rock Podcasts on the Pantheon Podcasts network. Get ’em while they’re red hot!  And don’t forget to follow our show, so you never miss an episode!

Welcome, Citizens of the World, to the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast Network.

One thing that’s shared by almost every culture, in every part of the world throughout history, is that music plays an important part in celebration, in worship, in recreation, in making even the hardest jobs more bearable. Music, it’s part of life, and if you’re from a culture that doesn’t celebrate music… well, I feel sorry for you. On this podcast, we celebrate that greatest form of music: the kind that ROCKS.

Every edition of this podcast, I pick one of my favorite songs and we explore it together on our never-ending quest to discover what goes into making a great song.

Last episode, we spent some quality time with one of my favorite bands, Thin Lizzy. One name that kept popping up on that show was Gary Moore. I wanted to spend a little bit more time with Gary Moore, one of the greatest guitarists of his generation.

He had a long and always evolving history; his career lasted over four decades, most of it underappreciated, I think. On this episode, we’re going to take a look at a song from right about in the middle of his career; this is a song called “Over The Hills and Far Away”.


A few years back, I did a show on 5 of my all-time favorite guitar solos– that was episode number 25 of this podcast, if you want to go back and check it out. One of those solos was by Gary Moore. He had all the flash and technique, but unlike many hot-shot players, especially those shredders from the 80’s, Gary had a fantastic sense of melody. He could play blindingly fast, but he could also move you emotionally with a melodic performance.

Robert William Gary Moore was born April 4th, 1952 in Belfast, Ireland. His father gave him his first guitar when he was 10 years old. Interestingly, Gary was a lefty, but he learned to play the guitar right-handed. In 1968, he joined Skid Row– no, not the metal band with Sebastian Bach; this Skid Row was a bluesy rock band from Ireland, with Phil Lynott (later of Thin Lizzy) on vocals, although Lynott left the band after recording only one single. But this is where Lynott and Moore first worked together.

A few years later, when Eric Bell left Thin Lizzy, Gary joined them, but it only lasted a few months. He did end up recording three tracks with them, though, in 1973. Gary recorded his first solo album, and he continued making solo records all through the 70s, and some of them are really good.

At the same time, he joined the prog rock group Coliseum II, and he would rejoin Thin Lizzy two more times– once as a fill-in guitarist for a tour in 1977, and then as a full-fledged member in 1979. Thin Lizzy’s “Black Rose” album is the only album of theirs where Gary plays on every track, but to many Lizzy fans, they consider that their best album. But it didn’t last long… Gary quit Thin Lizzy for the last time just a few months later.

Gary’s solo albums continued to get better. “Run for Cover”, released in 1985, is a great record– it’s probably my favorite Gary Moore album. Then in 1987, he released the album “Wild Frontier”. Phil Lynott had died the year before, and the album is dedicated to him. Maybe in tribute to Phil, maybe because Gary was just feeling connected to his Irish roots, but some of the tracks on this album have a real Celtic feel to them. It’s an interesting blend of hard rock and traditional elements.

Case in point is this song; but before we get into “Over The Hills and Far Away”, let’s talk about the lyrics.

This song tells the story of a man jailed for a crime he didn’t commit, but he can’t reveal his alibi… because on the night of the crime, he was sleeping with the wife of his best friend. Rather than reveal that secret, he keeps quiet and ends up serving a 10-year sentence for robbery. Now, this is a classic type of folktale, in fact, it’s very reminiscent, maybe even inspired by an old Lefty Frizzell song from 1959 called “Long Black Veil” that song tells a similar story of a man who’s hanged for murder because he wouldn’t admit that he was with his best friend’s wife at the time of the crime. “Long Black Veil” has been covered many times: Johnny Cash recorded it on his classic album “Live at Folsom Prison”. Here’s a bit of his version:


My favorite version of “Long Black Veil” is by The Band; it’s on their legendary album “Music From Big Pink”:


Here on “Over The Hills and Far Away”, Gary Moore puts his own spin on the story.

“Over The Hills and Far Away” was written by Gary Moore and produced by Peter Collins, who produced albums for Billy Squire, Bon Jovi, Queensryche, Alice Cooper and Rush. Gary plays all the guitars and does all the vocals. Neil Carter handles keyboards and Bob Daisley is on bass. For the drums… well, there’s actually nobody credited with playing drums on the album, and that’s because nobody did play drums on the album. All the drum sounds are programmed; it’s a drum machine. No actual recorded drums on the record at all. It’s a bit unusual for a hard rock record. There are no credits on the album for drum programming either, but it was probably done by Roland Carriage. When Gary went on tour for the album, he brought along Eric Singer on drums.

The song begins with some tribal drumming, and remember, these are all electronic drums:


You can hear some of those traditional sounds building under the vocal


Then as soon as that vocal line finishes, the song explodes with a Celtic melody.


Though there aren’t any specific instruments credited on this track, I believe there are some traditional acoustic instruments in there, along with the keyboards and the guitar. Let’s hear them all together:


And that leads us right into the second verse, where Gary’s heavy guitar chords come in:


Gary throws in a little bit of classic 80s whammy bar there. Let’s go back and pick up right before that part:


Some keyboards are added here.


So here’s the first chorus; harmony vocals are added on the first and third lines– that’s a typical technique we hear all the time– and the drums are playing an interesting pattern:


And the guitar sound has gotten really big. It’s a pretty simple part actually, the guitar is just playing one chord every two beats, but I’m guessing there are multiple guitar tracks layered on top of each other here to really thicken up the part.


I like that little bass part there.

Now, on the second verse, there’s a new keyboard part. Let’s hear that, and listen for the little guitar part that’s added on one phrase, duplicating the keyboard:


There’s some really nice guitar work under this part of the verse. I love the way it plays against the keyboard part. Notice the background vocals, too:


We’re coming to the bridge, and there’s a definite change in mood. It’s almost wistful… you can picture the prisoner looking out of his cell window, longing for freedom…


Those Celtic instruments return, and we’re about to hit a break where those instruments are right in your face in the mix. It’s really powerful.


This brings us to the guitar solo.


And here’s a classic a capella chorus; you just gotta do it on a song like this.


There’s some flanging on the percussion here.

And there’s a key change there; it jumps up a whole step from E to F sharp. Key changes are a classic way to inject some new energy into a song.


Let’s check out some of Gary’s vocals here at the end.


Gary Cuts loose on guitar a little bit more at the end here for the long fade


“Over The Hills and Far Away” – Gary Moore

After this album, he’d record one more record and then walk away from the sound of hard rock and heavy metal. He shifted to playing the blues. In fact, his first all-blues album in 1990 was the best-selling record he ever had, and with a few exceptions, he would focus on the blues for the rest of his career.

In February 2011, Gary died in his sleep from a heart attack; he was only 58. But he left behind over 20 Studio albums, plus all the work he did with other bands and artists. It’s quite the legacy.

I hope you enjoyed this episode of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. There’s another one coming right up! Let us know about your favorite Gary Moore and Thin Lizzy songs. Share with us on Facebook or on places like Podchaser; you can rate us, write a review, and share the show with your friends. And don’t forget to follow the show, so that you never miss an episode.

We’re part of the Pantheon Media Network of podcasts, and there’s a ton of other great shows waiting for you on Pantheon– check them out!

Always remember to support the music and the artists that you love by buying their music. And thanks for listening to this episode on Gary Moore and “Over The Hills and Far Away”.

Aerosmith was a band on the brink of self-destruction when they set up in an old convent to record their next album in 1977. But despite the tension, drug abuse and general bad behavior, they managed to lay down a few great tunes, including “Kings And Queens“. Let’s dig into this Aerosmith classic.

If you enjoyed this episode on Aerosmith, check out this previous show on their classic track “Seasons Of Wither”:

“Kings And Queens” (Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer, Steven Tyler, Brad Whitford and Jack Douglas) Copyright 1977 Daksel Music Corp. and Song And Dance Music Co. All rights administered by Unichappel Music, Inc.

— This show is one of many great music-related podcasts on the Pantheon network. Give ’em a listen! And remember to follow this show, so you never miss an episode.

Join us for this Halloween Episode where we take a deep dive into one of the spookiest songs to ever hit the charts. There’s a reason why this song has shown up everywhere from TV shows like “Supernatural”, to films including “Halloween”, the videogame “Ripper”– its lyrics are even quoted in Steven King’s “The Stand”: because few songs are able to create a mood as deep and rich as this one. And it features one of the best guitar parts of all time. (And yes, we mention the cowbell.)

“Don’t Fear The Reaper” (Donald Roeser) Copyright 1976 Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC 

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Sure, everyone knows “Stairway To Heaven”, but “Achilles Last Stand” may be Jimmy Page’s greatest masterpiece. Layers of guitars intertwined & augmenting each other in a virtual guitar orchestra, with stellar performances from the rest of the band. In this episode, we take a closer look at this underrated classic.

“Achilles Last Stand” (Jimmy Page & Robert Plant) Copyright 1976 Flames Of Albion Music, Administered by WB Music Group (ASCAP)


Good times, bad times you know I’ve had my share– but it’s all good here on the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast, one of the many great shows on the Pantheon Podcast Network. Thanks for being here. On this episode, we’re exploring an extremely ambitious track called “Achilles Last Stand” by a little band named Led Zeppelin. Maybe you’ve heard of them…

After Led Zeppelin wrapped up their 1975 tour, the four members of the band, along with their manager Peter Grant, were planning to leave England to avoid the high taxes. There they were doing what other rock stars had done before them, including the Rolling Stones. They would be tax exiles.

Vocalist Robert Plant was on vacation in Greece with his wife and two children when, on August 4, they had a terrible car accident. The kids were okay, thankfully, but Robert’s wife Maureen, who was behind the wheel, was knocked unconscious and suffered a fractured skull and broken pelvis. Robert had multiple fractures in his right leg and elbow. The doctors said he wouldn’t walk again for six months, maybe more.

An American tour had been planned for that summer, but after Robert’s accident, that was never going to happen. Which meant that all that money they were counting on from that tour wasn’t going to happen either. The only way to make up for that loss of income was to make another album. Luckily, guitarist Jimmy Page had a bunch of ideas for new material and Robert wanted to get back to work to do… something. Anything was better than sitting around feeling miserable.

So in September of 1975, Robert Plant, still in a wheelchair, joined Jimmy Page in Southern California to write some new songs. Bass player John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham would join them not long after. Once they finished rehearsing most of the material in California, the band then relocated to Musicland studios in Munich, Germany, to record the album in November. The challenge was that the Rolling Stones had already booked the same studio for December, which left Led Zeppelin with about two weeks to record the whole album.

Jimmy Page, who not only played all of the guitar parts, but also wrote virtually all of the music and produced the album, was working 18 to 20 hours a day on it. In the end, they ran out of time, and Jimmy had to ask Mick Jagger for two more days in the studio to finish up. Jagger gave him the two days, and Jimmy Page, almost by himself, recorded all of the overdubs seven songs worth in one single night. And then Jimmy and engineer Keith Harwood mixed the whole album the next day.

The album would be named “Presence”, and it was released in March of 1976. Robert Plant described the struggle to make the “Presence” album as “our stand against everything, our stand against the elements, against chance. We were literally fighting against existence itself.”

Unlike every other Led zeppelin album, there are almost no acoustic instruments on “Presence” at all. No keyboards, no mandolins or recorders, no acoustic ballads. This is an album dominated by Jimmy Page’s electric guitar wizardry. And “Achilles Last Stand” may be the pinnacle of his guitar playing and arranging genius.

“Achilles Last Stand” is the first track on the album, opening the record with a slow fade in on Jimmy Page’s guitar played on his legendary Gibson Les Paul, nicknamed number one. The part is doubled and then panned left and right.

Almost imperceptibly in the background there, you can hear John Bonham hit a few notes on a cymbal. And with one hit of a snare drum, we’re into the song. Essential to the driving force of this track is John Paul Jones’ bass part, played on an eight string bass. He’s using a Becvar Series Two Triple Omega Bass. This is the first time on any Led Zeppelin track that an 8 string bass is used. He’s playing it with a pick, too, which gives it an extra attack and a little bite to the high end. Listen to how John Bonham uses his snare drum to reinforce Jimmy Page’s guitar riff. Here comes the first verse.

Robert Plant doubles his vocal only on the second half of each line.

Let’s listen to that drum fill.

And notice how the reverb swells up when Robert sings about the devil in his hole.

Now, here’s a new riff introduced into the song. It’s a pretty classic Jimmy Page riff. Let’s listen to that guitar part. And that riff is immediately followed by an ascending guitar part. Two guitar tracks playing in harmony. One has some heavy effects on it. Sounds like some modulation and effect and maybe some phasing too. Let’s hear all those parts together.

Here’s another doubled and harmonized guitar part.

This is another point where they crank up the reverb on the vocal

And here’s a classic Robert Plant moan, saturated in reverb.  Next up is Jimmy Page’s guitar solo, and it’s a great one. He rated it himself as one of his best, right up there with his “Stairway to Heaven” solo. And I agree, it’s one of his greatest. It’s full of his unique bends and phrasing that make him one of the most identifiable and unique guitarists.

More doubled and harmonized guitars.

And I love this layered guitar part here.

All right, let’s break this section down. The bass and the drums are totally in sync here, each part reinforcing the other, while Jimmy Page weaves one of his mysterious guitar parts around the others. The unique sound of the 8-string bass is particularly noticeable here.

Robert sings a very haunting vocal refrain, thick with reverb. After a couple of times through, he layers another vocal part over that. Let’s hear that all together.

And here, Jimmy Page combines two different sections into one. Beneath that section, Jimmy Page is now playing slide guitars in harmony. Let’s go back and listen to that drum fill there. And let’s bring Jimmy Page’s guitar part. It’s a great one.

They just keep building it up. Let’s listen to his slide guitar, Here’s multiple parts playing off of and intertwining with each other. Notice how Robert’s vocals move back and forth across the sound field.

Listen to Robert’s vocal here. And so the song ends as it began, with a slow fade on Jimmy Page’s guitar.

“Achilles Last Stand” – Led Zeppelin

After all the blood, sweat and tears—literally– that went into making the album. “Presence” would be Led Zeppelin’s least commercially successful record. Although it’s often ranked towards the bottom of their catalog, I think this album is a triumph, both musically and under the conditions that it was made. And you don’t have to look any further than “Achilles Last Stand” to hear the genius of this band, with each member playing to perfection.

Thanks again for joining us here on the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, let us know what you think on our Facebook page. Just look for the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast page and you’ll find us there. And you can catch up on our previous episodes on our website, There’s a ton of episodes there, just waiting for you to discover them.

We are part of the Pantheon Podcast Network, where you’ll find even more music-related podcasts to check out.

We’ll return in two weeks with a new episode. Thanks for joining us this time for our exploration of “Achilles Last Stand” by Led Zeppelin.  (To listen to the song again in its entirety, stream it, download it, or buy it from wherever fine music is sold.)

If Motorhead is to be remembered for one song, it would be “Ace Of Spades”. The title cut from their most commercially successful album, a track that encapsulates Motorhead– fast, loud, defiant. Let’s dig into this heavy metal classic to see what makes it work.

“Ace Of Spades” (Ian Kilmister, Edward Clarke and Philip Taylor) Copyright 1980 Motor Music Ltd, All rights administered by EMI Intertrax Music

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Welcome to the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast Network. I’m your host, Brad Page, and on this episode’ we’re gonna pummel our ears with two minutes and 46 seconds of the most relentless rock ever produced” this is Motorhead and “Ace of Spades”


In Madison, New Hampshire– about an hour from where I live– there’s a giant granite rock called the “Madison Boulder”. It sits in the forest, in the middle of nowhere, pushed there thousands and thousands of years ago by the unrelenting flow of ice during the Ice Age, and then left alone when the ice receded. 83 feet long, 23 feet high, 37 feet wide, weighing about 5000 tons, it’s the largest known glacial Boulder in North America.

The only thing I can think of that’s as heavy as that rock, and as relentless as the ice that brought it there, is the music of Motorhead.

Ian Frazier Kilmister, better known as Lemmy, did a stint as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix and eventually landed a gig as the bass player for the ultimate Space Rock band, Hawkwind. Oddly enough, it was Lemmy who came up with the only hit Hawkwind ever had– a song called “Silver Machine” that reached number 3 on the UK charts back in 1972.


Apparently within Hawkwind, there was a clash over drug use; the rest of the band was into psychedelics, whereas Lemmy preferred speed. So after Lemmy was busted for possession of amphetamines, they fired him from the band. So he started Motorhead. With Lemmy handling bass and vocals, the lineup eventually settled on “Fast” Eddie Clark on guitar and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor on drums. This would be the classic Motorhead lineup.

Struggling to find any success at all, the band was just about to split up when they went into the studio to record one final song; they ended up recording a whole album’s worth and released it as their first album in August 1977. It actually did alright sales-wise, enough to keep them afloat. They released a single in September 1978, a remake of “Louie Louie”.


It managed to make it to 68 on the UK charts, high enough to get them an appearance on the TV show “Top of the Pops”. They released their second album, “Overkill”, in March 1979, and by then, the Motorhead formula was fully established: loud, fast, arrogant, speed-freak rock and roll.

The album was an unexpected success– it reached number 24 on the UK albums chart. The band worked non-stop; by the time their third album “Bomber” reached number 12 on the charts, only six months after the release of their previous album, Motorhead were bonafide rock stars.

Motorhead was one of the few bands that appealed to both punk rock and heavy metal kids alike. Lemmy once said he thought they had more in common with The Damned than with Judas Priest, but no matter which camp you are in, everybody loved Motorhead. And now that they had actual hit records, the pressure was on for the next album.

In early 1980, they headed into a studio in South Wales to work up material for the new album. One of the tracks was “Ace of Spades”. Lemmy didn’t have to look far for inspiration for this one– he already had the Ace of Spades tattooed on his left arm, with the credo “Born to lose, live to win”.

That first version of the song that they laid down is not drastically different than the final version, but there are some important differences. The main riff is slightly but significantly different; it’s in a different key, the breakdown in the middle is missing, and the ending is different:


saw the potential in the song and encouraged them to work on it some more, so they revamped the riff into the unforgettable classic we know today. So again, here’s the original riff:


and here’s the final version:


OK, so let’s get into the track. It kicks off with Lemmy’s bass. He played a Rickenbacker 4000 Series bass, plugged into a modified Marshall Super Bass amp head. Apparently, he set the bass and treble on zero, turned the mids up to 10, and then cranked up the volume.


So that’s the intro with the guitar. Actually, I think it’s two guitars double tracked playing the same riff, while Lemmy hammers away on one note.


Here’s the first verse. An additional riff is overdubbed on top of the main riff which carries on underneath.


Here’s the second verse, and let’s listen to Lemmy’s vocal.


It’s a little hard to hear in the final mix, but he actually doubles his vocals there.

The next section of the song is what the band always referred to as the “tap dancing section”. The producer Vic Maile had a cardboard box in the studio full of percussion instruments and noise makers. He pulled out a set of wood blocks and had the band whack away at them, creating this clickety-clack sound effect that sounds a little bit like someone tap dancing to “Ace of Spades”:


Next up is a vocal break that’s probably my favorite part of the song;

“You know I’m born to lose
and gambling’s for fools
but that’s the way I like it, baby
I don’t want to live forever”

That’s pretty much Lemmy in a nutshell.


Let’s listen to what Lemmy was doing on the bassunder that part:


That’s like the gnarliest bass sound ever. That section leads us into the guitar solo:


Lemmy really lays on the gambling references here; “pushing up the ante”, “read them and weep”, “the dead man’s hand”.

(The expression “dead man’s hand” is a poker hand consisting of two Black Aces and two black eights; supposedly the hand that Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot and killed. There’s no actual proof of this, probably not true but it’s what Lemmy believed, which is why it’s in the song.)

Interestingly, Lemmy really wasn’t much of a card player at all. He preferred playing the slot machines. He even brought one on tour with him.


Lemmy is actually playing chords on his bass. Sometimes, as a three-piece band, that’s a way to fill out the songs, but it just adds to the thundering sound of that bass.


And let’s not let the song end without giving a listen to what Phil Taylor is doing on the drums:


Let’s hear the final verse as they drive the song home:


There’s the tap dancing again.

This ending is just perfect:


Motorhead – “Ace of Spades”

“Ace of Spades” was released as a single in October 1980, and though it got virtually no airplay on British radio, it managed to hit number 15 on the UK charts. The album entered the charts at number 4– a remarkable achievement. That success did not replicate in the U.S., though “Ace of Spades” was the first Motorhead album to be released in the US. As American commercial radio wouldn’t touch themwith a 10-foot pole, they had to start from scratch here. Motorhead eventually became Legends in the U.S., Lemmy in particular; there was simply nobody else like him, but they never had anywhere near the commercial success in the U.S. that they had in Britain.

“Fast” Eddie Clark once said that out of the millions of dollars that people have made in the music business “I’d rather have ‘Ace of Spades’ than a million quid in the bank, because ‘Ace of Spades’ will be here after I’m gone. It’s a classic and you don’t get cassics every day.” So true.

Eddie would leave Motorhead in 1982 and he died in January 2018. He was being treated for pneumonia at the time he died; he was 67.

“Philthy Animal” Taylor left the band in 1984, though he did return in ’87 and played with them until 1992 when he quit for good. He was 61 when he died of liver failure in November 2015.

And Lemmy, the seemingly indestructible Lemmy Kilminster, died less than two months after Phil. He passed away on December 28 2015 from cancer. There’s a great documentary about Lemmy– it’s simply titled “Lemmy”, and it’s worth watching for sure.

And I hope you thought this episode was worth listening to. The “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast will be back in two weeks with another show, so tune in for that.

In the meantime, share your Motorhead memories on our Facebook page; just look for the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast, or on our website And you can always leave a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to the show, that’s always appreciated.

On behalf of the Pantheon Podcast Network, I thank everyone for listening and supporting these shows. And with that, I’ll leave you with Motorhead and “Ace of Spades”.


I’ll happily go out on a limb and say Deep Purple was THE hard rock band of the ’70’s. They could shift from monster guitar riffs to complex classical-influenced passages to outright improvised jams– all within one song. Built around a trio of top-of-their-game players (guitar, organ & drums), with a series of distinctive, powerful singers & bassists — the lineup changes so iconic they became known as Deep Purple Mark I, Mark II, Mark III, etc. This episode, we’ll break down the classic Mark III track, “Burn”, and listen to all the ingredients in this witch’s brew.

“Burn” (Ritchie Blackmore, David Coverdale, Jon Lord and Ian Paice) Copyright 1974 Purple (USA) Music

— This show is one of the many great podcasts on the Pantheon Podcasts network. Check ’em all out!

When Alice Cooper recorded “Elected” in 1972, it was a satire about a rich, grandstanding, self-obsessed celebrity running for president. He’s a “yankee doodle dandy in a gold Rolls Royce”. We all laughed. That kind of thing could never happen in real life, right…?

“Elected” (Alice Cooper, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith & Glen Buxton) Copyright 1973 Ezra Music Corporation, administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

— This show is one of many great podcasts on the Pantheon Podcasts network. Check ’em all out! And don’t forget to subscribe to this show so you never miss an episode!