Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots
24 May 2010
by Andy Parker
March 27th 2008. After a 40 minute wait, in true egocentric rock’n’roll style, Velvet Revolver finally took to the stage at the Brighton Centre for what proved to be their final performance, and this reviewer’s eyes bore witness to something quite magical. Sadly, Velvet Revolver was a short-lived fairytale, one that ended with yet another stay in the state pen from front man Scott Weiland, and his subsequent departure from VR to reunite with his real family – Stone Temple Pilots.
During the 90s, I attended every STP performance in the UK that I could. Along with Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Mudhoney – yes even Nirvana – my teens were tightly-moulded around heroin chic, ripped up jeans, thrift store clothing, and what it was to be a rock and roll motherfucker at the height of grunge. I evenmanaged to find some solid tunes hidden in among Shangri-La Dee Da, the oft-maligned predecessor to this latest eponymous release from STP.
That was nine years ago. Since then the aforementioned frontman has released several solo albums, attempted to create several others, and spent a hella lotta time in front of a judge on countless charges for breaking bail bonds, conditions of remand, DUIs, and no doubt a few counts of just being too fucking cool for the Noughties. Meanwhile the rest of band took it somewhat easier. The brains behind STP, the DeLeo brothers, formed Army Of Anyone with Filter mastermind Richard Patrick, while drummer Erik Kretz continued his career as a music producer.
And now we have this, the self-titled comeback record. Stone Temple Pilots is a tricky album. Not because it is the sixth release from a band who’s career now spans two decades, but more because I think it is difficult to set expectations of it. What do 12 Gracious Melodies/Purple, Core, and No.4 all have in common? They fucking rock with huge HUGE balls. They were written at a time where a group of guys wanted to write great rock songs. They were twenty-somethings with the world at their feet, a serious lack of morals, and a sense of wild abandon. At the height of their success, the concept of the rock’n’roll star still existed – and Stone Temple Pilots did it very well. Despite Weiland’s love affair with drugs and alcohol, they managed to over come what most of their peers experienced and nobody died!
We all grow up, we find different things to enjoy. We also like nostalgia. We love to go back to those days of our youth, to relive the heady days of when we felt like nothing else mattered except friends, a phone card in case of emergency and pints were £2.10 in the most expensive pubs in town – THAT’S RIGHT KIDS!! I SAID £2.10!!!
This is why I stopped listening to Pearl Jam after Vitalogy (and I should have stopped earlier really), because I am like the Peter Pan of audiophiles. I don’t ever want to grow up/old. I never wanted to listen to acoustic guitars and bongos, you can keep them for the crusty dredhead hippies in the park with their fire sticks and their poi and their irritating notions that they’re better than you because they don’t own a TV. You’re not, you’re just a wanker pal.
So why do STP think that now I am a little older (albeit still probably 10yrs junior to the youngest member) that I now want to listen to what can only be described as AOR? No, I don’t get it either. Sure, there are some nice lines in this latest recording, but it still sounds of a group of musicians who get together every few years just because they’ve been paid to.
The overall tone is similar to Shangri-La Dee Da, in that it is a far more stripped down rock/blues hybrid reminiscent of mid 70s American rock music. It’s understandable, I would imagine the era having heavily influenced all of them. ‘Hazy Daze’ finds itself at track 7, when really it should have opened because everything up to that point is frankly discard-able – including single ‘Between The Lines’ and follow up ‘Hickory Dichotomy’. ‘Fast As I Can’ also pushes some buttons, but the entire thing just bumbles, forgettable in an instant.
Watch the video to ‘Between The Lines’ by Stone Temple Pilots:
In a single morning I put the album on continuous loop 4 times. If it wasn’t for the three live tracks (old favourite ‘Vaseline’, plus new numbers ‘Between The Lines’ and ‘Hickory Dichotomy’) bundled on the Deluxe Edition I wouldn’t have known it had gone around. These live tracks on the deluxe edition of the album are what have thrown me the most. Recorded in Chicago at the beginning of this year (also filmed for VH1) and they show STP for what I have always seen them as, one of the greatest live rock bands in history.
Don’t believe me? You’ve clearly never seen Scott Weiland fuck a mic stand like I have, or seen him swagger his way around a stage like he owns your shoes, the feet in them and the soul rattling around inside. Even the two album tracks which I had written off only moments before sound fuller, the guitars have something on them that wasn’t there before… OH! It’s called overdrive, yes now it’s getting somewhere.
Despite the band members’ onset into middle age, this record is adolescent. Don’t get me wrong, I like my blues rock as much as the next guy, but I also like it to have something worth listening to. How will this affect their high-billed spot at this years Download festival? Not one jot, because these songs will sound the mutt’s live, as the bonus tracks go to prove, and the old stuff will kick so much ass that everyone in attendance will have no choice but to stand up for days.
My advice: wait for the inevitable live DVD of the Chicago show, and enjoy this record how it was meant to be heard.
Sounds like: STP, Pearl Jam, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, David Bowie
Top Tracks: Between The Lines, Hazy Daze, Bagman
Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots tracklisting:
Between the Lines
Take a Load Off
Dare If You Dare
Fast As I Can
First Kiss on Mars