Core

Stone Temple Pilots

Atlantic Records, 1992

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/20/2006

This may sound laughable to fellow music snobs, but the reason I got into the whole alternative scene is because of this record.

I'd grown up listening to good music courtesy of my dad, but I never heard a lot of 90s music until I got to college in 2001, meaning I missed the boat completely other than a few friends here and there who owned Pearl Jam and Nirvana discs. Then, I heard "Sex Type Thing" and "Plush" on radio and was hooked.

STP had been accused of being copycats of Pearl Jam, and some actually thought lead throat Scott Weiland was Eddie Vedder in disguise. That is rather ignorant - while the Jam's music at the time was based in classic rock meets punk, STP got their inspiration from glam artists, psychedelia and Kiss. They preferred Mott The Hoople over Zeppelin, and they meant for this record to be the essence of what they were about, hence the name.nbtc__dv_250

Core is a bracing hard rock listen that has aged very well. Weiland welcomes the spotlight but rarely mugs for the camera, projecting a bit of irony and fun into the words, the way the best arena rockers do (STP tries for mainstream all the way). The band -- Eric Kretz and the DeLeo brothers -- mix their arena rock love with the dynamics of grunge, and often it works wonders.

"Sex Type Thing" is a lumbering beast with a hypnotic chunky riff and smarmy anti-rape lyrics, written by Weiland about some football players he knew that took advantage of a girl. "Wicked Garden" is a terrific hazy acid-rocker and the other major hit, "Plush," glides by on majesty and arena-ready drumming, worthy of the Grammy it received.

The album cuts are just as good. "Naked Sunday" opens with a machine-gun drumbeat and Kretz keeps the urgency going while Weiland sings "I've been waiting a while to meet you / For the chance to shake your hand / And give you thanks for all the suffering you command / When life is over and we return to dust / Who will be my judge and which one do I trust?". Think about that in church this weekend.

Elsewhere, the acoustic "Creep" is one of the few memorable grunge ballads, though the lyrics get a bit silly, while "Piece Of Pie" gets lost in the same haze as "Wicked Garden," and though its hook isn't as strong it's almost as good. Same for "Dead And Bloated," a rather pedestrian grunge track that features the first appearance of Weiland's megaphone.

"Crackerman" features the same hazy guitar riffs sped up and laid on top of Kretz's insistent pounding, to great effect. "Sin" and "Where The River Flows" are also good but a bit plodding in the murk, while the throwaway "Wet My Bed" isn't even worth one listen.

STP was maligned at the time for being too derivative and have been lumped in with post-grunge bands like Bush and Seven Mary Three by revisionist critics, but time has shown that STP had a sound all their own, and this is where it started. As essential to 90s rock as the Smashing Pumpkins or Alice in Chains, Core is a glamorous grungy trip worth your time.

Rating: A-

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© 2006 Benjamin Ray 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 Records, and is used for informational purposes only.