90’s Shit You May Have Slept On: Stone Temple Pilots
Don’t get me wrong, I am not so naïve to think that you haven’t heard of the Stone Temple Pilots. In fact, I would be surprised if you hadn’t. The fact of the matter is, I feel like they are one of the great underappreciated bands in the decade of one hit wonders and one album flukes. STP came in hot on the heels of the grunge boom and played 8th fiddle to the likes of Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden, racking up the singles and commercial notoriety of those bands without really being as critically lauded. Think of them as the Simple Plan to Pearl Jam’s blink-182. The fact of the matter is, STP really wrote some great songs, and I don’t think enough people recognize that. They are seen, in the great pantheon of rock n’ roll history, as the little brothers who rode coattails to success and bottomed out amidst a sea of in-fighting and drug abuse. In reality, STP are one of the greats, and should be heralded as such.
It sucks when a band’s music is not measured by its own merit, but rather by the exploits of their frontmen. Ask Pete Doherty why Babyshambles and the Libertines aren’t regarded as classics. Ask Axl Rose why Chinese Democracy is widely regarded as one of the biggest flops in rock history. Therein, perhaps, lies the crux of the Pilots’ downfall; All of the attention that should have been going to their records went to Scott Weiland’s legal woes and heroin habit.
Now, I’m not saying Weiland’s Dionysian debauchery isn’t a viable portion of the legacy of the band that broke him, but rather an overplayed act in a play of great scenes. Scott Weiland is a douchebag. Any rock fan can tell you that. Two summers ago he basically told SPIN magazine that STP’s reunion tour and subsequent album basically came about because A.) He had been fired from Velvet Revolver and had nothing to do and B.) because Dean DeLeo called him and asked him if he wanted to make a million dollars that summer (referring to the tour). Again, Weiland was booted from VR for a drug habit. SLASH AND DUFF MCKAGAN KICKED A DUDE OUT FOR A DRUG HABIT.
But I’m not talking about that, or about his arrest record, or his ill fated solo album, or about his shitty biography I wasted a week of my life reading, or about those solo shows last year where he played Christmas songs in a Santa hat. I’m talking about Purple. And Tiny Music. Even the opening riff of “Down,” off No. 4. These dudes wrote some really classic tunes, and it’s time they had a legitimate resurgance.
My brother and I have long said that “Big Bang Baby” is one of our all time favorite songs. “Interstate Love Song” is another all time classic that still gets a lot of play around here. “Vasoline.” “Sour Girl.” The list of Greatest Hits goes on and on, but if I could really recommend one moment in their entire catalogue, it would be the end of “ Big Empty.”
Get some headphones, a dark room, a glass of something strong and the MTV Unplugged version of “Big Empty.” Sit there in your favorite chair or smoke a cigarette on your porch and let it sink in. When it gets to that jazzy, noodly interlude, hold your breath and wait. Eventually, the drums will build and build until that one last snare POP! Sends you away to that last chorus, and when Weiland comes back in with a feverish “Time to take her home,” let the chills run through your body. A true rock n’ roll masterpiece by the most underrated/overrated band of the 90’s. Enjoy, my friends.
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