… And I began to think about Scott Weiland …
The weird marketing sham that was “alternative” evolved into something more like “radio-safe melodic metal” at some point in the mid-1990s and when you think about it, Stone Temple Pilots’ strong debut Core was a template for the format. Especially in the latter half of the decade, when some corporate marketing group decided to rob the phrase “modern rock” from alternative’s smelly corpse.
Core was, to my memory, never as critically-embraced as any of Nirvana’s offerings. It, and its creators, were frequently lambasted as Pearl Jam clones as baritone singers are a bit like the immortals in Highlander. Let’s face it: if we are to accuse them of being derivative, we should really call them out for sonically resembling Alice In Chains.
And yet, why? Why spend so much energy being lazy armchair music critics? God forbid any more than one band have the same mixture of influences at any given time, and God forbid bands influence each other along the way.
Their next two albums sound like a band trying their hardest to silence critics while also trying hard not to lose their identities. Trying to strike some balance between listening to the audience and their creative voices sounds maddening and stressful. It is stressful.
I never liked them quite as much as I did on Core, because I (maybe mistakenly, who knows?) thought it sounded the most honest. And there are missteps: “Sex Type Thing” is, in spite of its energy and fantastic dirging riff, entirely embraceable as a date rape anthem even though that wasn’t its intention (Scott Weiland endlessly proclaimed that the song is anti-misogyny, anti-rape, and anti-abuse of power). “Wet My Bed”, more a segue than a song, is far less comical to my ears now.
Its lyricist is now dead, though. A life that ended after years of struggle, with flashes of brilliance along the way. Maybe one day it will be hip to say we loved his music. It should be.
Rest peacefully at last, Mr. Weiland.
(EDIT: I took the time to give a second listen to the third album Tiny Music, which I had not heard in many years, and found that I quite like it now. It just goes to show you what a little time and life experience can do to how you hear things … But that is another blog post altogether.)