Slash's Top 10 Hackiest Studio Sessions
Slash with Myles Kennedy at the Woodlands, 2014
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
It’s been nearly 20 years since he officially left Guns N’ Roses, but Gibson-wielding guitar god Slash is still going strong. Tomorrow night, he’ll be at House of Blues, touring behind his new record with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. Even if you haven’t heard a single one of the group’s new songs, show up ready to sing along, because you can bet your sweet ass that you’re going to hear “Sweet Child O’ Mine” before the night is through — and “Paradise City,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” and a bunch of other hits. Slash doesn’t kid around on tour. He plays guitar for money, and leather pants and rehab ain’t free. The man has bills to pay.
Maybe that’s why he’s accumulated such an impressive list of collaborations and guest features in his hall-of-fame career. Pretty much all of your favorite rockers have asked Slash to sit in over the years, from Bob Dylan to Iggy Pop and even Ray freakin’ Charles. Everybody wants a little piece of that Appetite for Destruction danger, and Slash rarely says no. Even when he really, really should.
Thanks in large part to his status as one of the world’s most iconic rock stars, he's the go-to guy for recording stars who want to add a little Marshall muscle to their latest offerings. For that reason, Slash tends to pop up on stuff written by people you can’t believe have ever heard of Slash, let alone bought him a drink. Call him a hack, if you're determined to be a dick about it. But if you’ve got studio time and large sums of money, you can get Slash to drop a bluesy Les Paul solo into damn near any piece of shit with a key signature.
Don’t believe us? You’re about to. Out of what must be thousands of ill-conceived studio sessions, the following ten head-scratchers are the strangest, most obscene Slash hackwork that we could dig up. Take a moment to marvel at the sheer hubris of their existence today, because you damn sure won’t be hearing them tomorrow.
10. Michael Jackson, “Give in to Me” (1992)
If there was a bigger rock star in the world than Slash in 1992, it had to be Michael Jackson. Perhaps it was inevitable that they would one day share a studio. It’s commonly believed that Slash played the guitar lick on “Black or White,” the first single from Jackson’s Dangerous album. He didn’t. He did play the solo Macauley Culkin uses to piss off George Wendt in the music video for the song, though, so you aren’t totally crazy for thinking that. Maybe get yourself checked out anyway, though, just to be safe.
Slash was a contributor on another album track from Dangerous, however: “Give in to Me,” a dated-yet-soulful rehash of "Dirty Diana" that sounds much more like the sort of thing someone would hire Slash to play than “Black or White.” It’s not bad, really, but it hardly makes the greatest hits package. Given the time period, which was more or less the very peak of Slash’s fame, my best guess is that he spent whatever hefty studio fee that the music-industry emperors in charge of Dangerous paid him on a Lamborghini made of vodka. I bet it went really fast.
9. Rihanna, “Rockstar 101” (2009)
After breaking through to solid-gold superstar status the previous year with Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna had the studio money and clout to do whatever the hell she wanted on her Rated R album. And it turned out that what she wanted was a whole slew of famous “collaborators” propping her up, including Young Jeezy, Justin Timberlake and the always-insufferable will.i.am. Slash was there, too, apparently, playing the guitar or something else that sort of vaguely sounds like a guitar on RhiRhi’s single “Rockstar 101.” The desiccated skeleton of a solo is in there somewhere, buried under triple-beam 808 blasts. But mostly, Slash seems to have been hired so that Rihanna could have an excuse to dress up in a sexy top hat and hold a guitar in the music video. Not exactly sure how that’s supposed to count for a college freshman-level course credit, but we’ll allow it.
8. Slash, “Love Theme From The Godfather” (2002)
Most of the soundtrack to The Kid Stays in the Picture is filled with the lush, cinematic compositions of Jeff Danna, covering a wide-ranging territory of sound befitting the stomach-churning highs and lows of producer Robert Evans’ life and career. But some hero decided that what it really needed was a bonus track, and that that bonus track should be the love theme from The Godfather as played by Slash from Guns N’ Roses. For whatever reason, if any, that this cover version exists, you’ve got to admit that it was executed fucking perfectly. There's no need to post the video, because you're hearing it in your head right now, aren't you? Nothing has ever sounded so much like Slash playing the love theme from The Godfather. Hard to argue this wasn’t money well spent.
7. Blackstreet, “Fix (Main Mix)” (1997)
Remember Blackstreet? Sure, you do. You know, the “No Diggity” guys. In 1997, they were the hottest thing in R&B, on their way to a Grammy win. And you better believe Slash was along for the ride. The guitarist fits in pretty well on “Fix,” a single that wasn’t a huge hit, but did manage to win Best R&B Video at the MTV Europe Video Awards, which is sort of good. The song also managed to get both Slash and Ol’ Dirty Bastard together on the same track, more than justifying its own inexplicable existence by that fact alone. Come to think of it, that looks like the guy from Fishbone in the video, too. That must have a been a pretty dope afterparty.
6. Spinal Tap, “Break Like the Wind” (1992)
By 1992, it was already kind of shocking how sadly true-to-life much of the funniest music-biz satire in This is Spinal Tap still was, eight years after the film’s release. Lord knows a lot of it must have been familiar to Slash. The mock rock-doc was pretty much an instant classic upon release, and still popular enough in ’92 that the stars of the movie – Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest – were convinced to reform and write a new album.
The result was Break Like the Wind. It was not an instant classic, or a classic-classic, for that matter. It mostly just worked as an excuse for Tap to get out and do some concerts and interviews, and it sold some copies to true fans. But whoever was putting it together was working with some cash, bringing in the likes of Slash, Joe Satriani and friggin’ Cher to sweeten up the lads’ performances. Slash did his thing on the title track, a fart-joke pastiche of Dio-esque power metal. Didn’t do the song much good, really, but it’s funnier that way, anyhow. Besides, Break Like the Wind was packaged in “extra-longboxes,” parodying the giant, unnecessary packaging of the early CD era. Perhaps the tunes were not the point, here.
5. Carole King, “Hold Out for Love” and “Locomotion” (1994)
If there’s one thing that the world has always hated about “Locomotion,” it’s that the rock and roll dancefloor standard lacks a certain streetwise soul that can only be provided via extended Slash soloing. Soft-rock superstar Carole King set out to fix the fatally flawed tune at last in 1993, inviting Slash up onstage to jam out and add a hint of smacked-out danger to her mega-polished In Concert record. The guitarist showed off some nifty Chuck Berry appropriations on “Locomotion,” but he was really turned loose later on “Hold Out for Love,” soloing for two minutes straight. It mostly works, and the live crowd seems to dig it. No doubt all of Carole’s fans in attendance rushed out and bought The Spaghetti Incident? the very next day.
4. Gina Gershon, “Lost at Sea” (2007)
Gina Gershon is best-known to many late-night film buffs as the sexy, husky-voiced lesbian from Bound. To others, she’s best known as the sexy, husky-voiced lesbian from Showgirls. But in 1997, Gershon decided she’d also like to be known as the sexy, husky-voiced singer from that song you like. So she went ahead and recorded an album, In Search of Cleo, and she made sure that she hired the best session players to make it a hit. Maybe she was friends with Slash. Or maybe he just came with the studio. But you can’t say that’s not Slash playing on Gershon’s song “Lost at Sea.” Mostly because you’ll probably never hear the song. It’s possibly the only thing Slash has ever done that wasn’t popular enough to even make it to YouTube. And you just know he totally wails on it, too.
3. Slash, “Angry Birds Space Theme” (2013)
Let’s face it: The world needed this. The original Angry Birds made such a stupid amount of money that I guess the folks in charge of the music for one of its numerous updates, Angry Birds Space, had to get creative in order to justify their budget. Maybe they’d noticed how many millions of Guitar Hero games featuring Slash’s likeness had sold, because the top-hatted axeman was brought in to reimagine Angry Birds’ theme song in his trademark, weeping-Gibson style. They even designed a “Slash Bird” that I guess you can play with in the game, which must have really ruined that 99-cent app purchase for Axl Rose.
2. Phineas & Ferb, “Kick It Up a Notch” (2011)
There can be no one better suited to creating music for children’s cartoons than a 45-year-old man who never wears a shirt. That must have been the thinking behind hiring Slash to Slash-ify a song on the soundtrack to some “Phineas and Ferb” TV movie that your kid has probably made you watch 9,000 times. But since every Disney movie needs its own album, Mickey broke out the checkbook and hopped on the Night Train. Bottoms up!
I think it’s safe to say that if you’re a parent in a Disney Channel household, this song, “Kick it Up a Notch,” is why you hate Slash’s fucking guts. The man does fine on his solo and everything, and that tone will never die. But this song should have its fingernails pulled out one at a time, in order to send a clear message to the other songs that it’s never OK to be this painfully irritating. Seriously. If you can listen to this song twice, you’re officially tougher than Slash’s liver.
1. Insane Clown Posse, “Halls of Illusions” (1997)
Once you've recorded with ICP, there's just kind of a stink left on you that never washes off. 1997 wasn’t exactly a busy year for Slash. The year before, he’d officially quit Guns N’ Roses and disbanded Slash’s Snakepit. Far be it from us to speculate, but there were whispers of addiction issues at the time. Maybe Slash needed the money, or maybe he just wanted to try something new. Whatever his reasoning, Slash sacked up and did what he could with “Halls of Illusions” by Insane Clown Posse.
Well, maybe that’s being a bit generous. The absolutely superfluous guitar soloing here sounds pretty mailed in — it’s a bare-minimum effort by the guy in the top hat. He’s barely there at all, lending his name as much as anything to a group looking for a little rock cred. He wasn’t the only famous rocker that took ICP’s money on The Great Milenko, either. Alice Cooper and Steve Jones each cashed a check, too. Wicked.
Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators perform with special guest Fozzy Saturday at House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. Doors open at 7 p.m.
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