29 Years Ago: Guns N’ Roses Release ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’

It is somehow fitting that the latter Guns ‘n’ Roses album with guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan was a rowdy record full of chaotic punk rock songs and a tune written by infamous serial killer Charles Manson. The spaghetti incident?which was released on November 23, 1993, was recorded when the band was in a state of turmoil and proved to be the only album by Guns N’ Roses that the band was not on tour to support.

There are a couple of reasons for that. Original Guns N’ Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin recorded many tracks for the record before leaving the band in 1991. The guitar parts were later re-tracked in on-the-fly studio sessions with Gilby Clarke and stands as the band’s only release with Clarke. Also, The spaghetti incident? originally it wasn’t supposed to be an album. The covers were intended to be included on a three- or four-disc version Use your illusionbefore the band decided to split all the new originals between two separate albums.

Even then, the plans were firmly cemented. Guns N’ Roses wanted to release the covers as an EP, then at the last minute they decided to add more cuts and make it a full record. Additional covers of Hanoi Rocks’ “A Beer and a Cigarette” and Stooges“Down on the Street” was recorded but never released.

Guns N’ Roses, “Since I Don’t Have You”

The Guns N’ Roses track The spaghetti incident? between 1992 and 1993 with producer Mike Clink. In addition to nine punk rock songs – by CursedUK Subs, New York DollsStooges, Dead Boys, Misadjustmentsthe professionals, Johnny Thunders and Fear – The spaghetti incident? surprisingly opened with “Since I Don’t Have You”, a track by doo-wop group The Skyliners and also included a medley of T. Rex’s “Buick Makane” and Soundgarden“Big Dumb Sex,” Nazareth’s “Hair of the Dog,” and the aforementioned Manson song, “Look at Your Game, Girl,” which was a bonus track.

The inclusion of the track was met with public outrage, and even label owner David Geffen expressed dismay that Manson would receive royalties from the song. The band and label tried to downplay the controversy by acting nonchalantly and promising that the song would have humanitarian benefits.

Slash told LA Times that the song was “made with naive and innocent black humor on our part” and added that the band planned to remove it from future copies of the record before they found out royalties would be donated to Bartek Frykowski, the son of Manson’s victim Wojciech Frykowski . Axel Rose told Q Magazine that performance royalties would be donated to a nonprofit environmental organization, and Geffen issued a statement that the label would donate their share of royalties from the song to The Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau. To date, “Look at Your Game, Girl” has never been removed from any copies of The spaghetti incident?

Guns N’ Roses, “I Don’t Care About You / Look at Your Game Girl”

The album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard album chart when it was released, selling approximately 190,000 copies. On Jan. 26, 1994 The spaghetti incident? was certified platinum by the RIAA.

After the record came out, Rose, Slash and McKagan reunited in the studio once again to record a cover of the film The Rolling Stones classic “Sympathy for the Devil” for the film’s soundtrack Interview with the vampire (the song ran during the end credits). It wasn’t quite the send-off Slash would have wanted. “If you’ve ever wondered what a band breaking up sounds like, listen to Guns N’ Roses’ cover of ‘Sympathy for the Devil,'” he wrote in his memoir. Slash. “If there’s one Guns track I never want to hear again, this is it.”

As punchy and old-school as it sounds, The spaghetti incident? leaves the listener wanting more. It’s a good reminder that Guns N’ Roses weren’t always a stadium rock powerhouse, but it feels somewhat jumbled and lacks cohesion. Had the band known it would be the swan song for the majority of their powerful lineup, it’s arguable they would have even released it as a stand-alone release.

Regardless, it was the last official release with Slash and McKagan until the 1990 live album Live era ’87-’93, which was published Nov. 23, 1999.

Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legendsco-author of Louder Than Hell: Metal’s Definitive Oral Historyas well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthraxand Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, The Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.

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