For Record Store Day on Black Friday of 2018, I was able to pick up the new Stone Temple Pilots Live album simply called Live 2018. I have been a fan of STP for years and was happy to hear they were getting a new singer and were going to continue despite the death of former lead singer, the great Scott Weiland. The new singer, Jeff Gutt seemed like a good choice and their new album earlier this year wasn’t bad…wasn’t great either, but wasn’t bad (see review here).
When I heard they were doing a Live album for Record Store Day, I was excited and it was one I wanted to get to see how Jeff does live.. The track listing was only 10 songs, but they are a great 11 songs with 2 from the new album and the rest being STP classics. The album cover was cool as it was rendered in 3-D and the album came with 3-D glassed
And the back cover of course was in 3-D as well which is why it is a little blurry.
But the music is what I was wanting. Okay, and the fact the vinyl was a red, clear vinyl. Now the picture looks like the butterfly is made into the vinyl (which would have been cool), but that is just because it is sitting on the album jacket.
Let’s get into the songs and how they sound…first, here is the track listing of the songs.
- Wicked Garden
- Dead & Bloated
- Sex Type Thing
- Trippin’ On a Hole in a Paper Heart
- Roll Me Under
- Big Empty (Acoustic)
- Interstate Love Song (Acoustic)
- Pretty Penny (Acoustic)
Second, let’s talk musicality of the songs. It is STP, no doubt. The DeLeo Brothers along with Eric Kretz haven’t lost their touch. The songs sound like STP with the biggest difference is they sound like they might be in a different key or even slower due to the new singer, Jeff Gutt (*). I am not musically inclined at all, but that is just what I hear. There is no fault at all with the music.
When this says it is a live album, it is; however, it isn’t from a big concert as the screaming fans can’t really be heard too much. The songs were recorded live in studios for promotional purposes I believe so the crowds were small and is why it doesn’t have that full concert feel to it. That doesn’t take away from the effort being put forth. At times it does sound a little boring for a live album without all the crowd noise, but if you put the headphones on take it all in, it does come across much better. It was a grower and got better with each listen.
Now how does Jeff sound? Well, it is a little hit and miss. A lot of the songs he nails and others he is trying way too hard to be Scott Weiland and sing it in that style and it fails for me. I don’t like the fact that he seems to be imitating Scott more than trying to sing it his way. He can sing it in the style of STP, but be Jeff Gutt. That is what I want to hear. If I wanted to hear Scott do it, I would just pop on an older album.
“Wicked Garden” is a great opener and gets the blood flowing. Jeff is singing too much like Scott on this one, but it isn’t bad as it is such a good song. When they go into “Vasoline”, it sounds little rough vocally. Not my favorite song at all, when in fact the original is one of my favorites. “Meadows” is up next and Jeff nails it like he should as it is his song. I really liked this one and he feels so much more relaxed and at ease singing it. The pressure on the others must be crazy as he does have big shoes to fill. But if he sang like this on all of them, this would be great!
“Dead & Bloated” and Jeff actually kills it on this one. He does harken Scott on this one, but this time in a good way. Maybe he is relaxing after coming off his own song, I don’t know and don’t care. This one works. “Sex Type Thing” comes right at you musically and sounds great, but I don’t like what he does vocally with this one. It sounds too forced and doesn’t feel right. He seems a little off key or maybe he is straining to sing it, either way not great. “Trippin’…” ends side one and goes out with a bang. For me this has always been a fun, fast-paced song and none of that is lost.
Side Two kicks off with “Plush” and it has a dark, foreboding feel to it before Jeff comes in. I like what they are doing with this one as it is really just Dean’s guitar and Jeff’s vocals and about half way through, a little percussion is brought in, but very minimal until close to the end when the whole band joins in. Nice twist to the song. Might be my favorite so far. “Roll Me Under” is the next one and it is a rocker. The song is from the new album and was one of my favorites off the album and one of my favorites here as well. Great rock track with a lot of punch. This would be a great song live and they show that to be true. The video isn’t from this album, but it is still live and sounds great (just to give you a taste).
The last three songs are all acoustic, “Big Empty”, “Interstate Love Song” and “Pretty Penny”. What was strange with this set was hearing “Interstate Love Song” so slowed down. It was actually great. The band does a good job with these and it is nice to see them perform the songs a little differently without losing their essence. Side Two was the best side for me on this record. It saved the whole album for me.
Overall, I would give the album a 3 out 5 Stars. After my first listen, I hated it, but it is really a good set. Jeff is a good singer and does better when the songs are done a little differently which is what the band should continue to do. Twist up the songs, but keep the STP sound as the band is different now than it was. If you are an STP fan, this is worth getting.
I am sure if I was at these shows, I wouldn’t be so critical on Jeff and here I sit alone in my comfy chair listening, it is easy to pick it apart. I know I shouldn’t, but that is what I do and I can’t help it. I do think Jeff is great and I feel over time he will grow into the role. He is doing a fine job, just needs to sing more in his own style. I think the band will get better and their next album will be fantastic. Hell, I bought the album didn’t I. And lately only real fans seem to buy the albums so knock me if you want, but I am supporting the band in hopes of new stuff to continue to come out.
Thanks and I hope you enjoyed it.
(*) – I wrote this review about 3 weeks ago and in that time, I learned there was a manufacturing error in the speed of the record. It is playing 4% slower which might explain my comment above. I didn’t want to edit my original statement, but funny that I was hearing an issue and I was right!! Damn, it is good to be right! What is cool, is now I have a limited edition with a manufacturing error…cool collectible for sure now!!!
Now I guess if I am able to get a replacement (lost the receipt), I will come back and edit the review if there is a big difference in what I think about the album.