Stone Temple Pilots ‘Purple’ Turns 20; STP’s sophomore album celebrates 20th anniversary on June 7th.
There are plenty of rock bands whose commercial success is diametrically opposed to being critically reviled.
Taste is always subjective, but Stone Temple Pilots, at their peak, were perhaps the most unfairly biased, even if their subsequent decline, owed much to a flaky frontman whose oversensitivity to criticism resulted in egomaniacal overcompensation.
Their début, ‘Core’ was a monster hit, and songs like ‘Sex Type Thing’ and ‘Plush’ pilfered from the Grunge movement, but they pulled it off with chameleon-like ease. This rubbed many indie rockers the wrong way. So there was a music snob coterie wishing for their sophomore effort to fail. But STP proved they weren’t just a one-trick pony on ‘Purple’, which turns 20 this June. It beat the sophomore jinx, selling over 6 million copies in the U.S.
Looking back on the album, it remains a polished muscular effort, even more impressive given it was recorded in less than a month. And its June release was perfect timing; it sounds like summer, all hooks, and bluster, but still featuring the requisite moodiness that makes it quintessentially 90’s.
‘Purple’ showcases that what many people deem STP’s liability, their shameless sonic mimicry, is actually their strongest suit. While they still borrowed from the grunge playbook (angsty opener ‘Meatplow’,’ the rollicking ‘Unglued’ and the eerie ‘Lounge Fly’, the album also showed them willing to dig from a variety of sonic sandboxes.
And it was those musical excursions which yielded their biggest hits; ‘Interstate Love Song’ is breezy 70’s classic rock, ‘Vaseline’ is power-pop on steroids, and ‘Big Empty’ (featured on ‘The Crow’ Soundtrack, which also turns 20 this year) remains one of their best; Dean De Leo’s bluesy slide guitar is a perfect foil to Scott Weiland’s introspective maladies.
The band also toyed with psychedelia on the off-kilter acoustic number ‘Pretty Penny’, and the undulating ‘Still Remains.’
‘Silvergun Superman’ is the perfect synthesis of 90’s aggression and 70’s glam, foreshadowing the band’s Bowie excursions on follow-up ‘Tiny Music: Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop.’
But Stone Temple Pilot’s would never be bigger than they were circa ‘Purple’. It predated the band’s collapse due to Weiland’s drug battles and internal tensions. Sadly, those hallmarks also make it a 90’s affair.
STP may have been Johnny Come Lately’s to the alternative rock scene, but they made perfectly enjoyable radio-friendly rock tunes, dipping their toes into different sub-genres with winning results. What’s wrong with that?
Want to own ‘Purple’ on iTunes or Amazon? Order via the links below:
[amazon_image id=”B00EZ3CL14″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Purple[/amazon_image]