Looking at loudwire.com’s Top 10 Grunge Albums of all time, we have two albums each from Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Soundgarden. We get one album from Soundgarden-Pearl Jam hybrid Temple of the Dog, and the other spot goes to “Core” from the Stone Temple Pilots. While I like all of those albums, I would find a spot somewhere for today’s album, the second release from STP, “Purple”. These lists are subjective and you could make an argument this record is diverse enough in sound that it breaks the boundaries of whatever we considered “grunge” in the first place, but either way, this album has some fantastic music that easily stands up to most, if not all of those other classics.
Still driven by Scott Weiland and the DeLeo brothers, STP demonstrates force and versatility on this record. The record opens with a true grunge hammer on “Meatplow”, but in my opinion, things get more interesting as we stray from that course. “Vasoline” is one of my two favorites on this record. It has an outstanding riff, and the alternating vocals from Weiland between verse and chorus lift this song to the top of the pack. “Lounge Fly” also tests the boundaries and features a guitar solo from Paul Leary of the Butthole Surfers.
“Interstate Love Song” may not be my all-time favorite STP song, but it certainly is close, and I do consider it the best overall song they ever produced. The guitar riff, bursting through the subtle acoustic opening, synchs up with Weiland on top of his game. It remains a radio classic to this day, along with being a perfect road trip song, and I know it is a personal favorite of my close friend Mike.
In the middle of the album, you have a trio of lesser known songs that feature different styles from STP. The sound diverges into more psychedelic and glam rock on “Still Remains” and “Silvergun Superman”, with the contrasting acoustic intermission of “Pretty Penny” that puts us up close and personal with Weiland.
“Big Empty” is another of their best, a bluesy wander that is pondering and insightful all at once, and “Unlgued” is just another straight-up rocker in the same vein as “Crackerman”. The album then flows into two last rock jams, before a ridiculously campy “Second Album” lounge singer emerges as a hidden track.
Together with “Core”, “Purple” sets the baseline for which all future STP music would be measured against. This is both good and bad, as it sometimes creates a barrier for fans who want more of the same when musicians like Weiland want to evolve and explore. Like many of his peers, he seemingly dodged the specter of death for so long as he confronted addiction, and there were many years of false reports of his demise before it sadly was proven true. His deeper vocal tone and range, along with his creative lyrical imagery cements his status as a rock star, for good and bad, and the Stone Temple Pilots will live on as one of the dominant rock acts of the 1990s.