When Grunge came on the scene, I refused to listen. I was still a hard rock enthusiast and didn’t quite get this new style of music. I will admit that I never got the fascination with Nirvana, even to this day I don’t get it and I don’t think I ever will. I am sure I am in the minority. I didn’t care for Soundgarden or Pearl Jam either at the time, but have since found them both to be outstanding with Soundgarden now my favorite of the two. But there was one band out of the Big Four, that I found to be incredible. They were Stone Temple Pilots.
I didn’t jump on board with the first album although it started me leaning in their direction. It was ‘Purple’ that was “My First Time” experience with Stone Temple Pilots. When I heard the song “Vasoline”, I was hooked and there was no looking back. The late, great Scott Weiland was one of the greatest frontmen in Rock and the swagger and charisma he brought to the stage is unmatched by most singers.
The band might have been considered, Grunge, but to me it was more like the rock & roll I grew up loving. Yes, they had the Grunge elements, but the way these guys played just screamed Rock and that is probably why I connected with them more than the others. The band consisted of the following members:
- Scott Weiland – lead vocals
- Dean DeLeo – guitar
- Robert DeLeo – bass, backing vocals
- Eric Kretz – drums
The partnership between the band was simple. The DeLeo brothers wrote the music and Scott wrote the lyrics. Musically, the music was heads & shoulders above anything else out there. Lyrically, the songs were some of the most bizarre yet most fascinating from any bands around this time. The combination of the two was pure magic.
Before we get into the songs, let’s talk about the album itself. The artwork is quite strange and consists of a very Chinese them which I am not sure what that has to do with anything in this album. The cover is a child riding what is called a Qilin which is a mythological creature that is thought to be a good omen of some kind. Accompanying the child are several fairies. The album title, ‘Purple’, is depicted by the Chinese characters for the word.
The album itself debuted at #1 thanks to the build up from their first album ‘Core’. It remained #1 for six weeks and went on to sell over 6 million copies. The band had become a force to be reckoned with. The album’s producer was the great Brendan O’Brien who was the driving force for a lot of albums in the 90’s.
Now on to the songs…
- “Lounge Fly”
- “Interstate Love Song”
- “Still Remains”
- “Pretty Penny”
- “Silvergun Superman”
- “Big Empty”
- “Army Ants”
- “Kitchenware & Candybars”
The back cover of the album says “12 Gracious Melodies”, but there are only 11 tracks listed…what gives??? Well, there is a hidden 12th track that follows track 11 called “My Second Album”. We cover that later.
“Meatplow” is the opening track for ‘Purple’. I have to say it is not my favorite track and I found it to be lacking as an opening track or as a track period. I think because this song was so grunge, that it never connected to me. For me, it seems completely out of place for the whole album.
“Vasoline” is where the album should have started. Amazing bass riffs to open the song and great guitar riffs throughout. I talk about the song in depth for My Sunday Song from a couple weeks ago so you can check that out for more detail. I love this song and one of my favorite STP songs.
The third track is “Lounge Fly”. A lounge fly is some seedy, middle-aged man who wears leisure suits (think Leisure Suit Larry) and hangs out in bars at least that is my interpretation of a lounge fly. This track has a really cool guitar sound that was derived from recording the guitar part and then playing it backwards. It is a really cool effect. The song slows down towards the end and the ending guitar solo is credited to Paul Leary from the Butthole Surfers. It is song like this that shows how freaking creative the band was as musicians.
The third and final single from the album was “Interstate Love Song”. The song reached #18 on the Hot 100, but wen to #1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks list. This was one of their biggest hits. The song is about Scott’s addiction and is taken from the view point of his then fiancè how she sees through his lies and that she knows he is still using. The song actually doesn’t mention the title in its lyrics which is not unusual for their songs. Robert DeLeo came up with music and he has stated it started out more as a bossa nova before becoming the amazing track they finally recorded at Southern Tracks studio in Atlanta (which was a great studio and I had visited it several times). Apparently, Weiland was able to record the vocals in one take.
“Still Remains” is a strange love song. It is written about his fiancé and how was so in love with her that he wanted to be with her in death. Some crazy lyrics like this…
pick a song and sing a yellow nectarine
take a bath, I’ll drink the water that you leave
if you should die before me
ask if you can bring a friend
It definitely makes for an interesting song. It is slow ballad, but not like one I had ever heard before. Very dark, and I like very dark.
“Pretty Penny” was a promo single for the album and is a great acoustic song. A real nice switch up after their heavier earlier songs and the later ones to come. The song is Scott’s last attempt to convince everyone that he wasn’t doing drugs…oh but he was. The heroin addiction was starting to become a problem. They tried to do an electric performance of the song, but couldn’t recreate the beauty of the acoustic version and I am glad they stuck with the acoustic version.
“Silvergun Superman” was a heavy, pounding song and just assaulted your senses. It was never a single or a promo, but it is not one you want to skip. It brings the rock back to the album and sets up the remaining songs of the album. The guitar solo in this song was one of the better ones on the album and I was glad to see the Grunge boys could bring the good old rock & roll.
The first single of the album was “Big Empty” and actually appeared first on the soundtrack to the movie The Crow with Brandon Lee (great movie). Lyrically, the song is all over the place and it is hard to pinpoint what is really being discussed, but the music is so good, it is alright that you don’t understand the meaning behind the song. The song is heavy on the bass throughout and Scott’s sounds amazing on this track. It was a great song to lead off with on the singles as it showed similarities to their last album, but brings them to the next step. It was weird that the single had no video.
“Unglued” was another promo single for the album. It was similar to “Vasoline” in its very distorted sound. The song was very uptempo and had a great beat and gets you moving and banging your head. It was one of the more pure rock tracks on the album. The distorted guitar solo is also a great feature and at 2:34 it is over before you know it and you are out of breath.
“Army Ants” is the 10th track and I will be honest, not a fan of this one. When I played this album to start reacquainting myself with it, I had no memory of this song. It still doesn’t stand out for me now after several more listens. Oh well, they can’t all be great.
The final listed track on the album is “Kitchenware & Candy Bars”. It is a very sad song about abortion. It was a difficult decision that Scott and his former partner made and he expresses the heaviness of that decision. The song is a little depressing for me and isn’t one I will revisit very often.
The 12th track on the album for the “12 Gracious Melodies” is the hidden track “My Second Album”. The song is a parody of hidden tracks as they are songs most bands wouldn’t usually make. It is quite funny to listen to and did bring a smile to my face. The song is done in the manner of a lounge song and is performed by Richard Peterson. It definitely is a corny little song.
The album isn’t perfect from beginning to end, but it is still one of my favorite albums by Stone Temple Pilots. This is one of the few 90’s bands that I still listen to on a regular basis and that says a lot as I am still a big 70’s/80’s guy. I hope you enjoyed my journey through the album ‘Purple’ and I hope you give it a try or revisit it if you haven’t for awhile.