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25 Years Ago Today: STP releases a #1 album

Stone Temple PilotsAfter the success of Core in 1992, grunge rockers Stone Temple Pilots upped their game in 1994 with Purple, released on June 7, hitting #1 just 18 days later. The English word of the title is nowhere found on the US version of the album; only the Chinese character 紫 appears on the cover with a picture of a child riding a qilin.

Several singles received airplay on alternative and modern rock radio stations and fared well on corresponding Billboard charts. “Vasoline” and “Interstate Love Song” both hit #1 on the Album Rock Tracks chart and #2 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart; “Big Empty” hit #3 and #7 on those same charts, while “Unglued” went to #8 and #16.

The album was released just a few days after I graduated high school and I remember listening to it with a friend who had received it as a graduation present. It didn’t have quite the impact on me that Core had, but I still enjoyed Dean DeLeo’s guitar playing and Scott Weiland’s voice.

The band is preparing an “Expanded Deluxe” double-disc release to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Purple. It will be released in September; you can pre-order it here. Of course, if you can’t wait, pick up the standard release here. One of the new tracks will be a previously unreleased acoustic rendition of “Big Empty” and the group uploaded the audio yesterday to YouTube. Listen to it below:

Some hobbies are way too expensive

I love vinyl. I’ve picked up loads of used vinyl at record shops and antique stores in the Cincinnati area (where I live), Knoxville (a yearly trip), and Bowling Green (on my way to my son’s college). Generally I don’t spend more than $10 on a title, and that’s only if I really want the record and haven’t seen it elsewhere. For the most part, though, I like to stick with the bargain bins and keep most purchases under $5. I’ve found some great releases in those bargain bins, including The Guess Who, Merle Haggard, and Frank Sinatra.

Sometimes I click around on Amazon to see what some of my favorite albums would cost on vinyl, and it blows me away. In the same way that some baseball cards are ridiculously out of reach, I never expect to own any of these vinyl releases, as much as I would like to hear them in all their clicky-and-poppy glory.

Alice Cooper Van Halen

  • Alice Cooper, Along Came a Spider, $1396.48. The shock rocker’s best album since at least the late 1980s, maybe even since the glory days of the 1970s. Features a harmonica performance by Ozzy Osbourne and a killer guitar solo from Slash. Yet, I will never buy it at the current price (although, it does have free shipping!!!).
  • Van Halen, A Different Kind of Truth, $179.98. I was fortunate to find the first five original VH releases at reasonable prices, and received the remastered 1984 for my birthday last year. (Actually, come to think of it, the debut was a Christmas gift along with the turntable three years ago). ADKOT is another story. The record was panned by many, but I love how it reaches back into the vault and updates some old riffs that were used on demos in the 1970s. But at this price, I’ll have to stick to the shiny compact disc version.
  • Van Halen, Balance, $419.78. Sammy’s last full album with the band is the only Van Hagar production I really enjoy. “Can’t Stop Loving You,”Milli Vanilli “Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do),” “Feeling,” “Not Enough,” and “Take Me Back (Deja Vu)” all rank among my favorite Van Halen songs. I really hope I stumble across this in a bargain bin someday (or even for $10), because I’m not dropping four Benjamins and a Jackson regardless of how much I like it.
  • Cinderella, Still Climbing, $89.99. I was fortunate to find Cinderella’s debut, Night Songs, a few years ago for about $8, and I snatched it up immediately. Still Climbing, the band’s last album from 1994, has been more challenging to track down. It didn’t perform well on the charts or on radio as grunge had brainwashed everyone by the time it hit stores. The 21st century price tag is just a little out of my range.
  • Mill Vanilli, Girl You Know It’s True, $65.55. I can hear the groans. I don’t care if the guys in the picture didn’t actually sing the songs, they are still great pop songs. This is one of my go-to albums for “take me back to the easy breezy days of being a young teen in the late 1980s.” But at nearly seventy bucks? Nope.
  • Stone Temple Pilots, Core, $699.99. This album was huge in 1993, but by that time vinyl was on the outs. Everyone was listening to CDs or cassettes. I’m not sure if it was even released on vinyl in the 1990s. The “collectible” reissue from 2013 is currently going for $700. Insane.
  • Black Label Society, Mafia, $70.90. Zakk Wylde’s side-band has changed lineups frequently over the years, but with ten studio releases under the BLS moniker since 1999, it is a force to be reckoned with. My favorite album from Zakk and friends is 2005’s Mafia, which includes “In This River,” a touching song frequently dedicated in concert to Wylde’s best friend Dimebag Darrell of Pantera, who was killed in a shooting in 2004.

Some of these albums may get reissued, and hopefully I’ll be paying attention when that happens so I can buy them for about $20. In the meantime, I’ll just have to stick to my CDs and Amazon’s streaming service.

Cinderella Stone Temple Pilots Black Label Society

Goodbye, Chester Bennington

(March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017)

Linkin Park frontman and former Stone Temple Pilots singer Chester Bennington’s body was discovered this morning at his home in California. He died of apparent suicide by hanging. Linkin Park was set to embark on a tour beginning next week, and had just released a video for their new single, “Talking To Myself,” this morning.

Random Awesomeness (part 203)

Random Awesomeness

Purchase Stone Temple Pilots – Tiny Music…Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Stone Temple Pilots edition

STPThe devastating news of Scott Weiland’s passing last night sent me straight to YouTube, and I started playing all the band’s hits from the first three albums. I was not as familiar with the band’s later production, and was actually surprised at how much STP released over the years. After sampling some really cool tunes, I decided an “Ultimate Mixtape” was in order for the late Weiland and his group.

Here are the rules for the “Ultimate Mixtape” project:

  • Every studio release must be represented by one and only one song. This is probably the hardest rule to follow, especially when you consider how many great songs were on the first few albums.
  • That song does not have to be a single used to promote the album.
  • Live albums are fair game, but are not required to be used if there is nothing worth including.
  • “Greatest Hits” type albums are only eligible if they contain previously unreleased or alternate versions or previous songs. So, from Thank You, the only two songs eligible for this project are “All in the Suit That You Wear” (which I used) and the acoustic version of “Plush” from MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball.

Those are the rules. Feel free to disagree with my choices below…this is a completely subjective exercise and I might choose different songs next week. Let’s get to it…

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Stone Temple Pilots edition

Every great band has some great non-album material as well, and side projects, and solo releases, etc. Stone Temple Pilots was no different, with at least two tribute album contributions and various side projects such as Talk Show and Velvet Revolver. I also included the Unplugged version of “Big Empty” in the bonus section since their performance on the MTV program has never been officially released. Here’s a bonus disc for the STP Ultimate Mixtape…

Bonus Tracks:

What did I miss? What songs would you have included that I neglected? Feel free to leave a comment, but be sure to keep it clean.

Click here to see all the “JT’s Ultimate Mixtape” posts.

Goodbye, Scott Weiland

(October 27, 1967 – December 3, 2015)

Best known for his work with Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, singer Scott Weiland was found dead on his tour bus last night in Minnesota. The cause of death has not been announced.

What do Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver have in common?

Scott Weiland used to sing for both of them. The band announced on their Facebook page today that Weiland has once again been terminated as the group’s vocalist, with no further details. I can’t say that I’m surprised, but I am definitely disappointed.

My favorite Stone Temple Pilots song is “Big Bang Baby,” from Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop.

Purchase Stone Temple Pilots music.

Velvet Rehabber

Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver vocalist has gone back into rehab, apparently of his own volition. What is really interesting is the fact that VR is scheduled to start a five-show tour in Australia on February 15th. To add fuel to the fire, is reporting that Weiland has actually been fired from Velvet Revolver. No word on who will take the mic for the band down under, if in fact the tour goes on as planned.

As you can imagine, there has been a lot of speculation of a Guns N’ Roses reunion since STP are getting back together. Slash admitted that it would fun, but also stated to, “But I think whatever it would take for us to be able to do that, if everybody were in that frame of mind, we never would have broken up in the first place.” Is he just lowering expectations so that the announcement will be even bigger news? We’ll see…

Falling farther from just what we are

What do you get when you combine two of the greatest groups in rock music? If you answered, “A supergroup,” you would be right sometimes. But most of the time what you get is a train wreck. Case in point: Velvet Revolver.

Guns N’ Roses was arguably the best hard rock act of the late 1980s, and their debut album Appetite for Destruction is one of those rare gems that can be played from beginning to end without ever hitting the “skip” button on your CD player. The follow-up, Lies, showcased the band’s ability to rock just as hard without electricity. Then there was Use Your Illusion I & II, with the epic “November Rain” and other timeless classics like “Don’t Cry” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” The last disc the band released, The Spaghetti Incident?, was a commercial flop but a nice tribute to some of the band’s punk influences. Comparing it to some of the covers albums that have been released recently by other bands, GNR’s effort was far superior.

Stone Temple Pilots hit it big in 1993 with “Plush,” a song in which lead singer Scott Weiland sounds eerily similar to Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. The band’s debut Core ended up going 8x Platinum, and several of the songs are staples on rock radio today (“Sex Type Thing,” “Wicked Garden,” “Creep”). Their follow-up Purple was not as strong as their debut, but still contained a few rockers, as did the third CD Tiny Music. This is where my personal knowledge of STP ends, as I did not buy No. 4 or Shangri-La Dee Da, their final two albums of all new material.

Enter internal turmoil, and both bands imploded. Axl fired Slash & Co. from GNR, while Weiland and Dean DeLeo nearly got into a fist fight during an STP concert. After some side projects and solo albums, somehow Scott and Slash got together and decided to form Velvet Revolver. VR wasn’t half the band they should have been, considering the talent, but they did create some buzz initially and had a few good songs. Their second CD wasn’t great, and while Slash is ready to record a follow-up, Scott is looking back to his former bandmates for a reunion.

That’s right, Stone Temple Pilots are reuniting this year and will tour, possibly starting in May at Rock on the Range, a rock festival in Columbus, Ohio. No word yet on what Slash, Duff, and Matt Sorum will do with their newfound unemployment. Maybe Slash and Matt can get Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony to form that other supergroup that was in the works before the Van Halen with Sammy reunion back in 2003.

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