Stone Temple Pilots have announced they have officially terminated Scott Weiland – no further information is available at this time.
With that tersely worded statement, released on February 27, it seems that the book has finally closed on the fulfilling but frustrating career of Stone Temple Pilots. For now at least. Of course we all thought the same thing when STP split up in 2002, only to be proven wrong six years later. But assuming this is really it, then now is as good a time as any to take a look back at some of the high points from the band’s musical output.
And so here are my picks for the ten best Stone Temple Pilots songs.
#1. “Sex Type Thing” (from Core, 1992)
Putting aside all the ridiculous controversy surrounding “Sex Type Thing,” there can be no question that this song showcases Stone Temple Pilots at their furious, piledriving best. The music is every bit as brutal as the lyrics (which Weiland has stated again and again are a statement against rape). How the hell anyone in 1992 could listen to this song and still write the band off as a Pearl Jam ripoff is beyond me.
#2. “Plush” (from Core, 1992)
I can see how anyone into the rock scene back in the early ’90s would’ve gotten burned out on “Plush.” The single was all over the radio, the video was all over MTV, and they even got extra mileage out of an excellent acoustic take. But given a little distance, can we not all agree that this track earned every accolade — not the least of which was a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance — it received?
#3. “Vasoline” (from Purple, 1994)
As excellent as Core is, it’s also a bit derivative in places. And the first time I listened to Purple it appeared as if STP weren’t in the mood to branch out too much — witness the opening track, “Meatplow.” But then buzzy churn and syncopated guitar chug of “Vasoline” entered the picture, and that’s when things got interesting. The band still knew how to rock, obviously, but this song proved they could be catchy too.
#4. “Interstate Love Song” (from Purple, 1994)
In which Stone Temple Pilots take their first shot at the mainstream and hit the bulls-eye. “Interstate Love Song” is also the song where the DeLeo brothers — Robert especially — really unveiled their uncanny knack for sticky pop melodies. The great thing about this track is it sounds 100 percent accessible and commercial, and yet it fits in perfectly alongside crushing album tracks like “Meatplow” and “Army Ants.” There’s nary a hint of compromise or selling out on this song, my friends.
#5. “Army Ants” (from Purple, 1994)
Speaking of one of those crushing album tracks, this is probably the most aggressive song on Purple. After opening with a shimmering, psychedelic Dean DeLeo guitar part, “Army Ants” commences to using your ear drums like a punching bag. The rhythm section of Robert DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz absolutely smokes here.
#6. “Lady Picture Show” (from Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, 1996)
And so we return to another melodic treat from STP. This track really benefits from the rather dry production and a mix that emphasizes the individual instruments much more than on the previous two albums. It also boasts a killer chorus and a typically killer Dean DeLeo guitar solo. Funny thing about that second item — during an age when the guitar solo was becoming increasingly seen as passe and indulgent, I always loved that Dean was more than happy to crank out a seemingly endless series of them.
#7. “And So I Know” (from Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, 1996)
This is what I would consider to be STP’s biggest foray into… psychedelic lounge pop? I don’t know what the hell to call it, but it’s a positively gorgeous tune with rich production, delicate performances, and a fine Weiland croon. And another sterling Dean DeLeo solo. Light the lava lamp and float away.
#8. “Seven Caged Tigers” (from Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, 1996)
The only thing holding “Seven Caged Tigers” back from being my favorite all-time STP song is Weiland’s vocals, which sound considerably ravaged by substance abuse here. As an example of the band’s songwriting skills, however, this is about as good as it gets. “Seven Caged Tigers,” with its rather opaque lyrics and jarring musical changes, is the perfect closing song for what is definitely Stone Temple Pilots’ weirdest and most engaging album.
#9. “Hello It’s Late” (from Shangri-La Dee Da, 2001)
Perhaps the biggest revelation about STP to come from their fifth studio LP, Shangri-La Dee Da, was that Scott Weiland had noticeably improved as a vocalist over the years. Maybe he cleaned up long enough to dedicate more time to his craft for awhile, or maybe producer Brendan O’Brien finally found the trick to coaxing the best out of him. Whatever the reason, an already very good track is elevated to great thanks to Scott’s delicate vocal delivery and some outstanding multi-tracked harmonies.
#10. “Coma” (from Shangri-La Dee Da, 2001)
I can’t think of a better way to end the countdown than with this track. It puts to rest any notion that STP might have lost a step due to Weiland’s very public drug problems in the mid-to-late ’90s. Not only does he sound just as strong as on the band’s first few records, but the entire band is on fire. And just when you thought STP couldn’t get any more pummeling, Dean DeLeo rips out a screaming guitar solo from the very gates of hell.