For some reason, the Stone Temple Pilots came on to the scene with a very negative connotation. Many listeners looked down on them as some kind of 2nd rate knock-off of Pearl Jam. I never shared that opinion, and I think the argument could be made that the quality of songwriting and their overall delivery rates as high as any of the Seattle-based grunge bands who seemingly had more street credibility. Scott Weiland was a fantastic front man, bringing a hint of glam and charisma to this downtrodden genre, and the DeLeo brothers on guitar and bass delivered a high-energy crunch with every song. As time passed, their reputation enhanced significantly, and their music lives on today very actively on rock music radio. Their debut album, “Core”, was one of my favorites of the time and I still love it just as much now.
Just as capable as being dark and disturbed, the album opens with three really excellent songs, “Dead and Bloated”, “Sex Type Thing” and “Wicked Garden”. I particularly love the vocals and guitar on “Sex Type Thing”. Not unlike Axl Rose, Weiland has a very versatile voice that can present many different styles and sounds within a single song, and this song is a guaranteed volume increase.
There a couple of odd, short transition songs within the album like “No Memory”, an instrumental track, but the rock continues with the slow blast of “Sin” and the equally unsung but strong track “Naked Sunday”. The hits continue with “Creep”, one of their slowest and most reflective songs, opening with a rarely heard acoustic guitar. Weiland’s vocals are particularly soulful here, and although it is slower than most of the others, it is a great change of pace.
The rhythm section powers back in on “Piece of Pie”, followed up by their biggest hit from this album, “Plush”. Another dark song written around a tragic murder, the chords of this song are pretty iconic for the time. Not only is the original version stellar, there also is a widely played acoustic version they recorded for MTV’s Headbangers Ball that gives us a very honest and transparent view of Weiland as a singer.
After the next odd transition song, “Wet My Bed”, we get to my favorite song from this album, and definitely one of my favorite songs of the 1990s with “Crackerman”. I love several elements of this song. First off, Weiland is crazy good and I love the megaphone-like distortion he brings to his vocals on the chorus. Secondly, I love that this song starts fast and intense, and never backs off from the pace for the entire song. There are too many songs that are awesome until they have some weird change of tempo in one of the bridges, and I love that “Crackerman” just keeps punching all the way to the finish line without taking a breather.
The album ends with “Where the Rivers Goes”. At 8:25, it is longer than most songs in this category, but it successfully holds up with the rest of this really strong album. This record was a big hit from the beginning, and rightfully so. Both with his success as well as the sad traps that came with it, Scott Weiland and the Stone Temple Pilots assumed their role as one of the best bands of the 1990s, even as they were the only grunge titan not to emerge from Seattle (they originated in San Diego). More great music to follow…