(Photo courtesy of: The Rolling Stone) “Stone Temple Pilots” are a very large name in grunge music.”
Grunge music has always had me wrapped around its finger. Often thought of as ‘divorced dad rock,’ it has found its audience in a 21-year-old girl. Albums such as Dirt, Facelift, and Purple dominate my playlists, and I am often asked to not request songs at bars. If you’re not familiar with the genre it is known for its heavy guitar riffs, slow sound, and darky lyrical themes- it is not music to party to, which still has not deterred me from trying.
Last year I watched my favorite grunge album of all time turn 30, and now, encroaching on its 31st anniversary September 29th, Stone Temple Pilots debut album “Core” can be remembered as an album that introduced something to the sludgy Seattle grunge scene what it didn’t know it needed- a band from sunny San Diego, California. Weiland, the DeLeo brothers, and Kretz offered a fresh take on the genre to critic’s demise, and introduced a sexy, rhythmic, almost jazzy sound that was absent from the scene at the time. The late frontman Scott Weiland becomes a master of storytelling throughout the record with his pertinent lyrics, very often taken from his own life. It is no wonder that the album went 8x platinum.
With staple radio songs like “Plush” and “Creep” the band explores themes of heartbreak, aging, and substance use with guitar riffs that encapsulate the listener within seconds of the song. Their country influence shines through on “Where the River Goes”, the closing track that clocks in at 8 minutes 30 seconds, there is energy throughout the record that the band couldn’t replicate in their subsequent albums. Today “Core” feels more relevant than ever. Track two, “Sex Type Thing” explores pro-feminist themes from the perspective of the ‘macho man’, which sparked its own controversy when it was first released.
My favorite track on the album was released in 2017 following the 25th anniversary. “Only Dying” recorded in 1992, was originally meant for the film “The Crow”, but after the death of Brandon Lee while filming, the band decided against its release for the movie. The song is raw, unfinished, and if you listen close enough, you get a good idea of what the band was trying to accomplish. There was never another recorded version, the song was left in its demo stage and not touched again. To me, there is some merit in that, and I take it for what it is, not what it could have been. Other notable tracks on the album include “Wicked Garden” detailing the loss of innocence, and “Crackerman” a song that was titled after a homeless man that Weiland befriended.
The song alludes to substance abuse and the idea of being completely lost. The themes in the album are heavy- but the greater picture is that all the tracks on this record explore the deepest and most uncomfortable emotions that we feel. When I listen to the album, I must confront myself, and each playthrough I learn something different. 31 years later, “Core” still proves to be one of the best feats the band ever accomplished, as well as a staple in 90s grunge.