Picture, if you will, the music scene in 1994. Grunge bands such as Alice In Chains and Nirvana were all the rage. Britpop groups like Oasis were hard at work trying to make a dent in the industry. And Stone Temple Pilots had just released their magnificent second album, Purple. What makes this grunge-rock masterpiece so different from their noteworthy debut Core is that while Core was heavy rock bordering on metal all the way through interrupted only by weird, spaced-out instrumentals, Purple struck that perfect balance between loud, headbanging rock and softer, quieter melodies. Not that they completely abandoned their wild side, of course. Right from the very first slashes of electric guitar on the appropriately named “Meatplow”, you can tell that they’re still rockin’ heavy, andmassive hit Vasoline and acoustic Lounge Fly follow suit. However, it was the milder ballad “Interstate Love Song” that made this album biggest impact.
Acoustic guitar mixed in with full-out rock provide the stunning backdrop for Scott Weiland’s heartbreaking vocals about love lost on the open road. It would ultimately become the album’s (and the band’s) greatest hit. In fact, even today, you can still hear it ever so often on the local radio. From there, the rest of the songs follow that same loud-soft, soft-loud structure, which actually makes for some interesting surprises. For example, just when you’re starting to feel comfortable with the quiet ballad “Pretty Penny”, the heavy rocker Silvergun Superman roars it’s way into your brain. As well as all that, what also makes the album truly one to remember is that after the lukewarm reaction to Core, the band decided to tone down the vulgar absurdities of their debut (look no further than the front cover and tracklist to see what I mean) and replace them with good, clean, hard rock. In fact, except for Lounge Fly’s somewhat f-word laden chorus, there isn’t a trace of vulgarity (or cynicism, for that matter) on the entire album, therefore being a CD that would appeal to hard-rock fans, critics, and even parents. Unfortunately, the album was panned upon release even more than before, and it wasn’t until much later that the masses finally realized that it was truly a rock masterpiece (that is, except for the hokey hidden promo). But no matter. Just sit back, relax, and let this brilliant work of art implant itself in your head until that’s all you can hear for days on end. And no, that’s definitely not as awful as it may sound.