Stone Temple Pilots are one of those bands for whom, in hindsight, it’s easy to wonder how they did as well as they did, given the music scene at the time. 1992’s Core landed right smack in the middle of the grunge era, but STP’s sound from the get-go veered more towards hard rock – and fairly catchy hard rock at that. The band always wore its influences on its sleeve; from the Beatles to the Doors to the blues. They were a multi-faceted band, and one that can be even more appreciated when you dig deeper than the 15 Top Ten singles they released during their career. They may not have always been the most original band, but they were immensely talented musicians and performers. The following list is in chronological order and covers all five studio albums.
“Dead & Bloated” – Core
If ever there was a song to start off and set the tone for a debut album, this is it. Beginning with vocalist Scott Weiland singing “I am smelling like a rose that somebody gave me / Cause I’m dead and bloated,” the tune shoots into a heavy verse and soaring chorus. It’s an excellent audio personification of STP’s early days.
“Sin” – Core
Trapped between radio hits “Wicked Garden” and “Creep” is “Sin,” one of the most underrated STP tunes out there. It has the kind of intro that leaves you baffled as to where it’s headed, but soon enough it dives into a signature STP verse and an excellent low-end chorus. The acoustic interlude and subsequent explosive guitar solo is a treat that would pave the way for STP’s musical growth.
“Piece of Pie” – Core
Now here’s one rockin’ tune. Guitarists (and brothers) Robert and Dean DeLeo drive this monster home with every palm-muted chord, and Weiland’s expansive vocals compliment it to perfection.
“Meat Plow” – Purple
Talk about another killer opening track. The monstrous opening riff eventually molds with chorus’ slide guitar (a method STP would go on to use liberally) seamlessly. This is down-and-dirty STP.
“Lounge Fly” – Purple
As luck would have it, my favorite STP song of all time qualifies as a Deep Cut. The band really begins to experiment with some atmospherics here, and that, combined with a drum-driven chorus and slide guitar, makes for one memorable tune. The acoustic center section is simplistic and beautiful, and what it leads to is candy for the ears. Weiland repeatedly asking “I wanna fuck / I wanna fuck / but do you need me?” must have been the only thing that kept this off mainstream radio.
“Still Remains” – Purple
Time to slow up the pace a little. “Still Remains” is a fairly standard, moderate rock tune at face value, but Weiland’s lyrics and vocals push this into memorable territory. There are some superb melodies on this track.
“And So I Know” – Tiny Music...Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop
STP gets even more experimental on this vibraphone and harpsichord-driven jam. This is a great chill song and would be perfect for a lounge setting. Weiland’s vocal performance, even among all the filters, is outstanding, and the jazz guitar ramblings set the mood beautifully.
“Ride the Cliché” – Tiny Music...Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop
That Beatles influence takes shape in this song’s chorus, as Weiland really touts his vocal range. Chugging guitars and big drums dominate the landscape, but this is a fine example of STP exploring a pop sensibility. This both hurt (lower sales) and helped (better reviews) the band as they continued to expand their sound.
“Tumble in the Rough” – Tiny Music...Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop
This tune sounds like it belongs on an iPod commercial, but serves as a throwback to punk rock of the 1970s. The dirty guitars dominate the track from top to bottom, but Weiland manages to make the chorus much catchier than it should have been.
“Church on Tuesday” – No. 4
STP recaptured the dark and heavy guitars that put them on the map with No. 4. The single “Down” made that clear from the outset, but “Church on Tuesday” stands as the most enjoyable jam on the record. The tone is much more fun (and once again Beatlesque) than the album as a whole, and another shining example of the band’s influences.
“I Got You” – No. 4
This acoustic-driven ballad is wonderfully understated and has an endearing innocence about it. Melodies are the order of the day, and it all comes together perfectly.
“Atlanta” – No. 4
Look no further for those Doors influences than “Atlanta,” a strikingly atmospheric and acoustic blend. Weiland takes almost a Johnny Cash-style vocal approach to the material and this is likely the most memorable closing track of any STP record.
“Wonderful” – Shangri-La Dee Da
It’s yet another quality mid-tempo STP ballad that somehow didn’t make it to radio in the band’s twilight. They went out with a whimper with Shangri-La Dee Da, but this is undoubtedly a standout track that gets no love. The slide guitar is once again quite enchanting.
“Coma” – Shangri-La Dee Da
Starting off more like a rap song than anything we’re accustomed to from STP, “Coma” is one of the band’s most bizarre yet strangely catchy motoring rock jams.