The band’s third album saw a dramatic change in their music. Gone was the grunge and rock sound of their first two albums and in its place was a more experimental sound that was a mix of glam and psychedelic, but still rooted in the STP vibe. The band rented a mansion in Santa Barbara, California where they holed up with producer Brendan O’Brien and on March 26, 1996, ‘Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop’ was born. And there is nothing “tiny” about it. It is huge in sound and in packaging. The album went all the way to #4 on the Billboard charts and spawned 3 #1 songs on the Mainstream Rock Charts. I would say it was fairly successful selling over 2 million copies in the U.S. alone.
And here we are 25 years later celebrating the album with a Super Deluxe Edition done in the same style as the first two albums ‘Core’ and ‘Purple’ which you can check out their Super Deluxe Editions by clicking on their album name. I have to say, they are great sets to have and I can’t wait for ‘No. 4’ as I hear there is some great stuff unreleased for that album.
The band still 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, even though the style had changed it was still heads & shoulders above anything else out there. Lyrically, the songs were some of the most bizarre yet most fascinating from any bands out around this time. The combination of the two was pure magic. I think I say that with every release, but it is still true.
Before we get in to the music, let us discuss what comes in the Super Deluxe Edition and let me tell you get a lot…
That sounds like a lot, but is it really…I think the only way to know for sure is show you a picture of everything that comes with it…
Yeah, I would say that is a lot. The cover for this set is like a hardback book and is fantastic. It is embossed which makes it so shiny and pretty and almost blinding if the light hits it just right. The back cover is the same as the original album as the boys don’t skimp on what they give you. The water on the cover looks like it is shimmering in the sunlight and almost moving. Really great stuff.
The cover is a gatefold with a picture of the band on one side and the CD’s on the other. The band picture is actually a record sleeve and holds the LP and the booklet. And I know my friend Aaron would not approve of the way the CDs are held and would immediately put them in a jewel case to protect them. I can’t blame him.
Okay, time for the music.
CD One & Vinyl:
The first CD and the LP are both the same. They are the original album remastered in 2021 to bring you a crisp and clear sound that is even better than back in the day. I am not going to go song by song as I will save that for a time when I review the album in earnest. But don’t fret as all the songs are there including such STP classics as “Big Bang Baby”, “Lady Picture Show”, “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart” and “Tumble in the Rough”. And you get two of my favorites with “Art School Girl” and “Pop Love Suicide”. The only thing that is missing is the Japanese bonus cut of “Meatplow (Live)”, but outside of that, it is the same. If you buy the Super Deluxe Edition, you aren’t getting it for this album as you probably already had this one so you are only getting a better copy. The real reason are for the extra discs so let’s get to it.
CD Two (Early Versions, Demos & Alternate Mixes):
The CD is full with 15 tracks and ALL of which have never been released prior and that is why you bought this disc. It kicks off with the full length version of “Press Play” which is way too long and why they cut it down in half for the album. Then you get early versions of every song on the album except for “Daisy”. The early version of “Art School Girl” was actually called “5 or 4 Times (Art School Girl)” and if you know the song, you know why. Two of the tracks that are different versions of the album cuts are only instrumentals for “Adhesive” and “Ride the Cliche”. Ryan Williams, my brother-in-law, mixed “Ride the Cliche”. If that isn’t enough, you get alternative versions of “Big Bang Baby” as well as the Percussion Mix of “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart” and the Jaw Harp Version of “Art School Girl”. And lastly, is a “Kretz Acoustic Song” so yes, the drummer can write music as well even for an acoustic guitar. This is band is loaded with talent!!
CD Three (Live at Club La Vela, Panama City Beach, FL 3/14/97):
And the other juicy treat in the box set is an unreleased live show from the band during the era of this album. And that is how you do a Deluxe Set Right…a Live Album from the Era!!! Remember that, not all bands do this and they should…it is a must!!
This show is straight from the Redneck Rivera called Panama City Beach and let me tell you that moniker is true. I know from experience because I have been there many times. It was at a little club called Club La Vela and I don’t think I’ve been there. The band played a 14 song set that covered the first three albums and Mr. Weiland was in rare form that night. His banter was quite entertaining as he might have been under the influence of something, but who knows what. The new songs from “Tiny Music…” fit right in to the set perfectly and the band is loud and rocks out. There is not one cover and it is all classic STP and now with three albums it is easy for them to fill a show. I don’t think there are any surprises with the song choices as they are the biggest hits and most popular tracks and 100% awesome.
And that isn’t all.
You also get a booklet that is the size of the vinyl insert and gives you a nice essay on the history of the album, all the lyrics to the main album as well as all the album credits. It also includes some wicked pictures of the band in all their strangeness. What more could you want.
And that still isn’t all. Not part of the set itself but released for the 25th Anniversary celebration, you can go to Youtube and watch the previously unreleased video for “And So I Know” with intimate, unseen Hi8 video footage filmed by the band themselves during the album’s recording sessions at a ranch house in California’s Santa Ynez Valley. What is cool for me is my brother-in-law, Ryan Williams, directed the video and helped piece all the footage together.
And there you have it. I don’t know if it as great as the prior two 25th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition sets of ‘Core’ and ‘Purple’ as I think it doesn’t have as much to offer. It has a ton of unreleased tracks, but only 1 that is not related to the album at all. It would have been cool with completely new unreleased songs from that era, but I am being picky. But what they did supply was great. The live show on the other hand is the real gem here. That will get a ton of listens along with the original album. Don’t get wrong, this is worth having and any fan who loves this album needs this set. Sell the old copy you have and put the money towards this and then add a ton of other money as it ain’t cheap. My overall rating is a solid 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars mostly from the live album. Thanks for hanging around and come back soon.
And if you want to see all the songs on here, check out the insert that was under the wrapping when you open the set…