photo & text by nacrowe
i distinctly remember purchasing TINY MUSIC... SONGS FROM THE VATICAN GIFT SHOP (ATLANTIC, 1996) by the STONE TEMPLE PILOTS at the FNAC in PARIS on a family trip the same year we moved to NIGERIA. talk about a whirlwind year that was. at the time i was very familiar with their previous two releases CORE (review linked HERE) and PURPLE (review linked HERE) and i recall being surprised by the change in direction of this then-new release. in fact, i originally thought there must be a mistake but then i checked the liner notes (this being pre-internet) and was confirmed otherwise.
i think part of the reason for this reaction was the dearth of heavy distorted guitars throughout, in fact, this record is very much in keeping with the aesthetics of early GARAGE ROCK, POWER POP and even hints of late 60s PSYCHEDELIA. this record came from a completely different place than the first two records, which was probably a good thing. it seemed that with every release the band got WEIRDER, ARTIER and more CREATIVE. sadly that trend ended here as the delayed follow-up was more of a calculated return to their previous more aggressive sound. for this reason i look back fondly at TINY MUSIC as my favorite STONE TEMPLE PILOTS release. standout tracks include foot stompers like "BIG BANG BABY," "ART SCHOOL GIRLFRIEND," "POP'S LOVE SUICIDE," "SEVEN CAGED TIGERS" and"TRIPPIN' ON A HOLE IN A PAPER HEART" as well as more subdued affairs like "SO I KNOW" and "LADY PICTURE SHOW." to my ears this record sounded a world's away from their ALTERNATIVE ROCK peer group and made such comparison's seem insipid and lazy in retrospect.
it was during this period that frontman SCOTT WEILAND began flexing his creative muscle with regards to songwriting despite bouts with the law related to his burgeoning and soon to be full-blown heroin addiction. this affliction began years earlier in 1993 during the BAR-B-Q MITZVAH TOUR in support of the BUTTHOLE SURFERS, but according to his biography things started to spiral during the recording of TINY MUSIC. previous to its recording, WEILAND had gained confidence with his side project THE MAGNIFICENT BASTARD's celebrated addition to the TANK GIRL (UNITED ARTISTS, 1995) soundtrack in "MOCKINGBIRD GIRL." that carefree, soulful ROCK N ROLL swagger definitely found its way into the new material as well as his subsequent underrated solo album 12 BAR BLUES (ATLANTIC, 1998).
as stated before, this is my favorite era of the STONE TEMPLE PILOTS' career and i consider TINY MUSIC one of the most UNDER-APPRECIATED albums of the 1990s. i consider it required listening for anyone interested in ALTERNATIVE ROCK. highly recommended.