Stone Temple Pilots

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Core , 6/10
Purple , 7/10
Tiny Music , 5/10
No 4, 5/10
Talk Show , 5/10
Scott Weiland: 12 Bar Blues , 7/10
Give A Shangri-La Dee Da , 5/10
Scott Weiland: Happy In Galoshes (2008), 4/10
Stone Temple Pilots (2010), 4/10

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Gli Stone Temple Pilots nacquero a San Diego nel 1990 (inizialmente si chiamavano Mighty Joe Young), ma trovarono la loro vocazione nel grunge di Seattle. Il registro di Scott Weiland (nato a Cleveland, trasferitosi in California a 15 anni), che fondamentalmente e` uno shouter nella vecchia tradizione del rhythm and blues, e` l'unico elemento che li differenzia dai loro idoli Soundgarden, Pearl Jam e Nirvana. La chitarra di Dean DeLeo (originario del New Jersey) e la sezione ritmica sono invece imitazioni impeccabili dei dischi di questi tre complessi: riff lenti e poderosi della chitarra, sezione ritmica tempestosa.

Cio` nonostante, il gruppo ottenne un successo strepitoso con Core (Atlantic, 1993) e le sue canzoni di compromesso, concentrati di stereotipi come Sex Type Thing (cadenza incalzante, voce minacciosa, riff brutale, ritornello orecchiabile alla Nirvana), Piece of Pie e Wicked Garden (che potrebbero stare su un album dei Pearl Jam), Dead And Bloated (una power-ballad alla Alice In Chains). Soltanto il boogie fragoroso, ossessivo, tribale di Crackerman ha i numeri per imporre anche una personalita`. Da un capo all'altro del disco, in tutti i suoi truci travestimenti, domina indubbiamente un melodismo d'alta classe, che trova sfogo nei momenti piu` dolci, Creep e Plush. Il disco vendera` piu` di quattro milioni di copie in due anni.

Purple (Atlantic, 1994) doppia il successo di quel disco con un'altra sequenza di fotocopie: Interstate Love Song (che ruba il riff a I Got A Name di Jim Croce e stabilisce comunque record a catinelle nelle classifiche di vendita), Vasoline (un riff alla Soundgarden e la melodia piu` orecchiabile della loro carriera), il madrigale celtico di Pretty Penny, l'ibrido di folk e hardrock alla Led Zeppelin di Lounge Fly. A tenere vivo il miro di Creep e Plush e` Big Empty, un derivato di Hunger Strike dei Temple Of The Dog.

Tiny Music (Atlantic, 1996) e` un altro calderone di cliche`, forse il piu` sfacciato della loro sfacciata carriera. L'influenza degli Oasis si fa sentire in Pop's Love Suicide, Big Bang Baby e soprattutto in Lady Picture Show, mentre Trippin' On A Hole In A Paper Heat e` la piu` fedele al loro sound classico. Tumble In The Rough (con il riff di Stigmata dei Ministry) rappresenta l'unico momento originale del disco.

Un po' per la tossicodipendenza di Weiland (che, arrestato per la prima volta nel 1995, verra` infine condannato a un anno di carcere nel 1999), un po' per il declino commerciale dei loro dischi, il gruppo si spezza. Weiland intraprende la carriera solista, gli altri si riformano come Talk Show.

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Weiland's troubles with drugs and justice highlight No 4 (Atlantic, 1999) more than does the music. The band can't decide between their hard-rock past, which permeates (No Way Out, Sex & Violence and the single Down), i.e. the usual parade of Tool and Soundgarden rip-offs, and a more roots-oriented turn, that spans T.Rex boogie (Heaven And Hot Rods) as well as a Doors tribute (Atlanta, which sounds more like Fairport Convention). The latter course of action is far more intriguing that their traditional grungey sound, and the album probably peaks with a triad of psychedelic pop songs: I Got You, Church On Tuesday and Sour Girl (that steals from the Beach Boys the vocal harmonies and from the Byrds the jangling guitars).

Talk Show is the remnants of Stone Temple Pilots with Dave Coutts replacing Scott Weiland. Talk Show (Atlantic, 1997) is to Stone Temple Pilot what Foo Fighters is to Nirvana: the commercial sell-out of a genre that already was not exactly avantgarde. The album simply offers a lighter, easier, softer version of Stone Temple Pilots with Ring Twice, Peeling An Orange, Hello Hello (reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir). Pressed to monetize, they end up with catchy power-pop a` la Cheap Trick (Mourning Girl, So Long, Everybody Loves My Car).

Scott Weiland's first solo album, 12 Bar Blues (Atlantic, 1998), on the other hand, is a noble work in the tradition of "lo-fi" songwriters like Robert Pollard and Beck, a collection of quirky ditties with lively and inventive arrangements. Weiland's eclectic and subversive talent yields stand-out tracks in different styles. Desperation features loud distortion and languid melody, a combination reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr. More representative of his style at the border between country and soul with psychedelic overtones, is Barbarella, a power-ballad wrapped in a cloud of guitar reverbs, halfway between a smoother Faces or a horser Eagles. The epic, melodic pathos of this song also recalls a less neurotic but equally sorrowful Nirvana. Neil Young's high and martial wail surfaces in Where's The Man. Superficially, About Nothing sounds like trivial Brit-pop, thanks to a Beatles-style melodic progression, but in the background an array of industrial noises is simmering, more like Pere Ubu than Oasis. Cool Kiss starts out with a dissonant clangor and a distorted rant, worthy of Nine Inch Nails. The Date is a dilated Indian-psychedelic hymn. With piano and vibes, Divider even flirts with cocktail-lounge soul-jazz. And Weiland also throws in a futuristic novelty (Jimmy Was A Stimulator) and an orchestral waltz (Lady Your Roof Brings Me Down).
In a case similar to Mark Lanegan's, Weiland surprised everybody by making a solo album completely different from his band's style.

After the glory (and the surprise) of Weiland's solo debut, Give A Shangri-La Dee Da (Warner, 2001) marked the return of the Stone Temple Pilots.
The news is that Scott Weiland is sober, for the first time since Stone Temple Pilots started climbing the charts. It is probably irrelevant for the artistic values of this album, the one in which the other "pilots", the ones who actually play the music, graduate to elegant and seasoned arrangers. Even the panzer riffs of Dumb Love and Coma are carefully crafted so as to contribute to a whole dynamic, not just to a refrain. The result is a collection that sounds eclectic to the point of sounding confused. Where previous albums were dogmatically homogenous, monolithic and repetitive, this one changes from song to song, never letting the listener guess how the guitar and the bass will fight in the next song, how the drums will accompany the vocals, how the singer will sink under the riff, etc. Hard-rock is not even the dominating genre anymore. Regeneration has the crazed attitude of psychedelic rock, A Song For Sleeping is bare and lean like acoustic folk, and the two "commercial" highlights, Days Of The Week and Long Way Home (not to mention Wonderful and Bi-Polar Bear) are pure pop. But they were not artistic revolutionaries before, and they certainly are not now that they sobered up.

Weiland then formed the supergroup Velvet Revolver with rhythm guitarist Dave Kushner and Guns N' Roses' guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum. They released Contraband (2004) and Libertad (2007).

Scott Weiland's Happy In Galoshes (2008) was vastly less entertaining than his solo debut.

The band reunited for the bland Stone Temple Pilots (2010).

Weiland died in 2015.

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