Purple

Stone Temple Pilots

Atlantic, 1994

http://www.stonetemplepilots.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/08/1998

In 1994, Stone Temple Pilots were standing on the edge of greatness. Having made a name for themselves with their debut effort Core in 1992 and their alternative hit "Plush," lead singer Scott Weiland and crew had carved out a nice niche for themselves on both the alternative and rock worlds.

Some people wondered how STP would follow up their original success. The answer was simple: Purple, their sophomore effort, could be the best album of this band's brief career - and with the drug problem that sidelined Weiland, left a question of what could have been had he not screwed up his life.

The first taste anyone got of Purple was "Big Empty," a song included in the movie The Crowmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 and on its soundtrack. From the slide guitar of Dean DeLeo to the thundering drums of Eric Kretz, this song captured the power that the band had wanted to express all along, and was one of the better songs on the soundtrack. It also was a tasty carrot to dangle in front of the fans waiting for Purple to come out.

But as good as "Big Empty" was, it was not the best song on Purple, a fact that was obvious once it finally hit the stands. From the opening chord crunches of "Meat Plow," Stone Temple Pilots are on a creative roll. Weiland is in fine form, and shows his musical wisdom by knowing when to be more subdued with his vocals ("Lounge Fly," recorded at Paisley Park Studios) and when to go all out ("Unglued").

Surprisingly, all the radio-friendly songs have not lost any of their edge four years since the album was released. "Interstate Love Song" quickly builds from a light acoustic sound to the power chords that make this song special, and Weiland again shows his power in his vocal restraint. The five-star tour de force, "Vasoline," rolls out the funk and roll, and gives each musician (including bassist Robert DeLeo) a chance to strut their stuff. (The video for this song is also a high-water mark - almost makes MTV worth watching.)

But the best song on the album is one you probably won't hear on the radio - "Pretty Penny," a song which allows STP to go unplugged and introspective. Funny thing is, after all the powerful guitars and vocals, it works, and works well. The vocal harmonies and the guitar bridges are especially worth checking out. Likewise, "Still Remains" is one song which could have fit on the radio, but for some reason didn't make the cut to be a single.

But once you get to the end of track 11, "Kitchenware & Candybars," don't hit the "stop" button yet - the uncredited twelfth track is a lounge-act number featuring a singer that can't be Weiland. For that matter, one wonders if the other members of the band play on this track - still, it's worth checking out at least once for the kitsch factor.

Purple rightfully became Stone Temple Pilots' first chart-topping album, and is worth adding to your collection. Even if you're not a fan of alternative music, this album might just change your mind.

Rating: A-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic, and is used for informational purposes only.