photo & text by nacrowe
a lot critics over the years have loved to heap shit on STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, calling them opportunistic wannabes and whatnot. but i think they all missed the point. that band had one of the most consistently ALTERNATIVE ROCK discographies of the 1990s and some of its most iconic singles. i think part of that critical backlash to the band was their unapologetic love of mostly 1970s CLASSIC ROCK which was decidedly not kosher back in an era that found bands that had their roots in more underground movements like 1980s HARDCORE and INDIE ROCK. remember KURT COBAIN dismissed supposed SEATTLE rivals PEARL JAM initially for their admiration of 1970s "arena rock," i.e. CLASSIC ROCK, since they used extended solos, which was all a bit hypocritical since COBAIN was famously a closet fan of the genre as well. so basically i am attempting to say that this whole line of criticism was pretty facile to begin with.
what actually derailed STONE TEMPLE PILOTS was sadly the drug-fueled and ego-driven extra-curricular activities of charismatic frontman SCOTT WEILAND (RIP) ultimately overshadowed the immense songwriting abilities of the DELEO BROTHERS and the work they all collectively created together. that narrative defined the band to a large extent, both then and now. but if you listen back to what i consider their best collective effort, PURPLE (ATLANTIC, 1994), you will find a creative unit firing on all cylinders and having real fun playing with traditionalist CLASSIC ROCK tropes. in a good way.
tracks like "VASOLINE," "SILVERGUN SUPERMAN," "MEATPLOW" and "UNGLUED" are all slow-building stompers with explosive choruses that bring to mind the work of MOUNTAIN, LED ZEPPELIN and THE WHO. other songs like "ARMY ANTS" and "LOUNGE FLY" are definitively in the 1960s psychedelia camp, reminiscent of the expanded sonic palettes of BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD, JIMI HENDRIX and even THE DOORS. what i find particularly most intriguing are the slide-guitar based singles "INTERSTATE LOVE SONG" and "BIG EMPTY" which seem to have sonic connection to that of JOE WALSH and that LAUREL CANYON-era of classic CALIFORNIA songwriting. in essence, the sound of the STONE TEMPLE PILOTS has eclectic antecedents in scenes past, but is that a bad thing? again, where they traditionalists? of course, but who wasnt during that era?
as a kid who grew up in the 1990s, for me the songs off PURPLE were my soundtrack inasmuch as anything off of NEVERMIND, ANGEL DUST, SUPERUNKNOWN, LIVE THROUGH THIS, BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK, VITALOGY, LAST SPLASH, SIAMESE DREAM, THE BLUE ALBUM, RITUAL DE LO HABITUAL or DIRT. its another great ALTERNATIVE ROCK record of the era worthy of reconsideration by a criminally under-appreciated band.