It is my firm opinion that Stone Temple Pilots’ discography is the most underappreciated mainstream rock catalog of the past 25 years of music; the band always managed to keep things fresh and shook up their formula every single album. Here, for your clickbait pleasure, is Alternative Nation’s ranking of STP’s records, from Core to High Rise.
In addition to STP’s six studio albums and E.P. with Chester Bennington, I’ve included Scott Weiland’s solo material and the various side projects of the Deleo bros (plus or minus Eric Kretz). Not included is Delta Deep, Robert Deleo’s newest project with Phil Collen of Def Leppard, or Art of Anarchy, which Weiland claims he was never truly part of in the first place.
14. Talk Show (1997)
The first attempt at replacing Weiland in the classic STP lineup, Talk Show saw Dave Coutts, whose vocals sort of combined the alternative sound of the mid-90’s with 80’s pop rock. As one who thinks none of the STP members have ever been involved with an awful record, Talk Show starts off strong before spiraling off into filler territory and does not really leave a lasting impression on the listener. Dave Coutts is an underrated vocalist, however, and he recently resurfaced after disappearing for many years, interacting with STP fans on Below Empty under the name “Cave Doutts” and performing some Talk Show material live in California.
13. Happy in Galoshes (2008)
There’s a solid album buried within the sprawling double-disc Happy in Galoshes, a cathartic concept album dealing with Weiland’s failing marriage with Mary Forsberg and his relationship with his brother Michael. However, like most double albums, the project collapses under its own weight. “She Sold Her System”, “Killing Me Sweetly”, and a very emotional rendition of “Be Not Afraid” are the highlights here, while the album lost a huge opportunity for a collaboration with pop icon Pharrell Williams: the original version of the singer’s seminal hit “Happy”, which leaked earlier this year, was conceived for Happy in Galoshes.
12. Army of Anyone (2006)
The DeLeo brothers’ collaboration with Filter frontman Richard Patrick and future Korn drummer Ray Luzier was a solid effort with masterful production and some great songwriting, but, like Talk Show, the songs lacked the extra “punch” and chemistry that Weiland and even Chester Bennington possess with their STP bandmates. Key tracks include “Non Stop”, “Goodbye”, and “A Better Place”. Note: Army of Anyone’s tourmates, Hurt, are a vastly underrated band to check out. Frontman J. Loren at one point joined Dean DeLeo on stage for a rendition of an original song, “Used To Know Her“.
11. High Rise (2013)
Chester Bennington always wore the Weiland influence on his sleeve and is doing a solid job thus far at STP’s live shows, but the High Rise EP was a bit too rushed and underwhelming as a mission statement by the new lineup. “Out of Time” and “Tomorrow” are the standout tracks here while the rest of the EP more or less goes through the motions. The new incarnation of STP desperately need to release a follow up with at least one heavy-hitting hit to really convince everyone they mean business in studio.
10. Libertad (2007)
The second and final Velvet Revolver album before Weiland’s departure from the band in March 2008, Libertad takes a poppier turn from Contraband. “She Builds Quick Machines” and “The Last Fight” represented the record on rock radio, though Libertad failed to have the same impact as its predecessor in 2004. The record continues the weird Weiland trend of keeping the strongest songs off of the retail release of the record; the rarity track “Gas And A Dollar Laugh” appears on the Japanese import of Libertad, while “Messages” appears on the iTunes edition.
9. Stone Temple Pilots (2010)
The last album to feature Scott Weiland on vocals, 2010’s self-titled “Peace” record was the only set of recorded material released by the classic STP lineup following their 2008 reunion. Stone Temple Pilots opted to push forward with their pop-rock style found on the band’s later records rather than appeal to grungeheads looking for Core 2.0. That’s not to say the record doesn’t have solid tunes: “Between The Lines”, “Take A Load Off”, “First Kiss On Mars”, & “Maver”, but the record doesn’t possess the longevity of the classic five albums and is ultimately an epilogue to the classic STP’s legacy.
8. Blaster (2015)
A solid comeback for frontman Scott Weiland with his new backing band, The Wildabouts, marred by the tragic death of guituarist Jeremy Brown at the age of 34. Blaster sort of represents a back-to-basics rock and roll record for Weiland after the divisive and experimental Happy in Galoshes. The record is front to back rock music with a focus on, as Weiland touted in many interviews, “filling the space between the notes” for a compact and fuzzy sound. The highlight of the record is the surreal Dylanesque rabble of “Parachute”.
7. Contraband (2004)
The debut album from Velvet Revolver, featuring Weiland on vocals and Slash, Duff Mckagan, Matt Sorum, and Dave Kushner supplying the music. The music is tight and the production on Weiland’s vocals is as strong as ever. It’s a shame the band never truly followed up on the success of “Slither” and “Fall to Pieces”.
6. No. 4 (1999)
Producer Brendan O’Brien’s work on No. 4 was admittingly his weakest in the band’s catalog with its “wet towel” production, but the record is at its strongest during its more sentimental moments: the Billboard pop hit “Sour Girl”, the psychedelic-country love (or drug?) ballad “I Got You”, and the epic and soaring “Glide”, and the acoustic “Atlanta”, where Weiland completely channels his inner Morrison. Te latter two are two of the greatest songs in STP’s catalog of deep cuts. The other pole of the record is that of heavy-hitting rock tunes like “Down”, “Heaven & Hot Rods”, and “No Way Out.
5. Core (1992)
Core was the record that effectively started it all, blending contemporary alternative rock music with record-oriented mindset and classic rock riffs. The record blasted the bar band known as Mighty Joe Young to worldwide fame with tunes that are still relevant on rock radio to this day like “Plush”, “Wicked Garden”, & “Sex Type Thing”. While Core arguably has the strongest string of radio heavyweights, it’s still the band’s most generic outing as far as guitar-rock goes, and their sonic heights were not truly achieved until records like Tiny Music and Shangri-La Dee Da were released.
4. Shangri-La Dee Da (2001)
Choosing the slightly hokey “Days of the Week”, originally written for Sheryl Crow, as the lead single of STP’s fifth studio album sort of misrepresented the final product: Shangri-La Dee Da is easily STP’s most experimental album. After plowing through rockers “Dumb Love”, “Coma”, and “Hollywood Bitch”, the record descends into moody weirdness, from the manic melody of “Bi-Polar Bear” to “Transmissions from a Lonely Room”. The band found themselves at a junction when Dean Deleo and Scott Weiland reportedly got into a fist fight during their tour in support of Shangri-La Dee Da and scrapped their pending sixth album, reportedly a return to the sound of Core.
3. 12 Bar Blues (1998)
Easily Weiland’s strongest solo record and one of this writer’s personal favorites of all time, 12 Bar Blues is the work of a creative genius in the deepest throes of addiction, and every inch of the album drips with the paradoxical desperation and manic highs Weiland was experiencing at this point in his career and personal life. From the slinky salsa-influenced “Desperation No. 5” to the ethereal closer “Opposite Octave Reaction”, 12BB is saturated with dark yet joyful melodies and psychedelic textures. Sadly, the album was too experimental to effectively kickstart a solo career, as if Scott skipped the Major Tom/Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars phase and went straight for the Berlin trilogy.
2. Purple (1994)
Purple is inherently the band’s most “listenable” album; it contains the crunchy riffs and baritone vocals that earned STP the grunge fanbase of the early 90’s while also pushing the band towards psych/pop-oriented songwriting. “Interstate Love Song”, “Big Empty”, & “Vasoline” were the two mega hits of the record. Songs like “Unglued” and “Silvergun Superman” are fan favorites. “Still Remains” is one of the best love ballads of the alternative nation era: “…take a bath I’ll drink the water that you leave, if you should die before me ask if you could bring a friend.”
1. Tiny Music… Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop (1996)
Casual listeners often dismiss 1996’s Tiny Music as the point where STP fell off the wayward path and became something too different from their flannel and testosterone fueled early days. However, many hardcore fans and music lovers recognize Tiny Music as the group’s opus, a swirling vortex of psychedelia laden with Beatle-esque hooks. From the surreal elevator music intro of “Press Play” to the fan favorite album closer and heroin ballad “Seven Caged Tigers”, you’ll find an eclectic mix of styles stamped with STP’s brand of rock and roll: the bossa nova of “And So I Know”, the jazz-tinged ode to the music industry “Adhesive”, & the Zeppelin-meets Beatles frenzy of “Trippin’ On A Hole In A Paper Heart”. As far as “divisive but acclaimed” mainstream rock records of the 90’s go, Tiny Music deserves to be in the same pantheon as Weezer’s Pinkerton, Nirvana’s In Utero, & Pearl Jam’s No Code.
Honorable Mention: Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (2011)
A masterpiece firing on all cylinders. Forget whatever inferior album you have in mind. Scott Weiland’s cover album of traditional Christmas classics (plus the original tune “Happy Christmas (And Many More)”) is the greatest piece of recorded material of the past century.