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STONE TEMPLE PILOTS Tiny Music... Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop (1996 German issue 12-track CD album [with Stone Temple Pilots in Red text] including the singles Big Bang Baby Trippin On A Hole In A Paper Heart Lady Picture Show & Tumble In The Rough with picture booklet that folds out to a poster displaying a collage on one side and the complete image from the front cover including lyrics on the other side)
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Les STP n'hésitent pas à mélanger les influences du métal hardcore à la pop la plus éthérée, et en font des tubes (écoutez en priorité "Big Bang Baby" ou "Trippin'...").
Album varié et constant dans la qualité.
On entre dans le disque avec une musique d'ambiance sympa, puis on s'envole dans un pop-rock mélodiquement plus riche que beaucoup d'autres produits du même genre. On se ballade dans des genres inexploités en rock "And so I know", "Daisy"; puis on retourne dans du bon rock US "Big Bang Lady", "Lady Picture Show", etc. Bluffé, parce que c'est vraiment un excellent disque.
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One thing that strikes the listener is that lead singer Scott Weiland sounds notably different on "Tiny Music" than he did on its predecessors. The baritone growl of "Core" and "Purple" has been replaced by a much higher pitched, more melodic voice. Not that one is better than the other, it's just different.
"Press Play" an instrumental sets the mood for the album. The album starts out strong with poppy grunge "Pop Loves Suicide." The similarly poppy grunge "Tumble in the Rough" keeps up the momentum and could have easily have been made a single. The glammy "Big Bang Baby" was one of the album's biggest hits and remains one of the band finest, catchiest songs. "Lady Picture Show" shows the band paying homage to "Sgt. Pepper" era Beatles and was another hit off the album. The soft and melodic "And So I Know" is an interesting break and sets the album up for its other centerpiece "Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart," a defiant, no-holds-bar rocker that is another one of the bands finest, most memorable songs. The avant-garde "Art School Girl" shows the band branching out and exploring new terrain. Although the songs lyrics make no sense, it's still an interesting listen. The leisurely, morose "Adhesive" is a welcome change of pace. Its cool saxophone solos are a nice touch to the song, and to the album overall. The album winds down with the subdued "Ride the Cliché," "Daisy" (instrumental) and "Seven Caged Tigers."
"Tiny Music...Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop" is an eclectic, invigorating album that combines many styles in a melting pot and never looses momentum. Although this album is adventures, the mix of styles and genres works together perfectly. "Tiny Music" is undoubtedly one of the finest rock albums from the 1990s.
The 1990's was an age of great success for alternative rock bands. The Stone Temple Pilots were one band which had such success and achieved great fame with their first two releases, 1992's 'Core' and 1994's 'Purple'. Both albums, with pretty much a grunge styled angle to them sold phenominally well. No doubt about it, early on the band did a lot of borrowing from their peers, such as Pearl Jam but the band ultimately found their sound with their masterpiece 'Purple'. However, like many a band before them and after them, following up a legendary album is no easy task, to put it lightly. So, when 1996 rolled around, so came STP's newly anticipated release. So what did it have in store for the fans?
'Tiny Music' without doubt shows a much more developed band putting out some pretty diverse music. Even though this is not my favourite STP album, as that honour will always go to 'Purple', it is definitely a creative peak for the band. STP, with 'Tiny Music' finally assured the world they were no one album wonders and could develop like other great bands. They also were able to totally shake off the 'grunge copycat' tag fully with this album - afterall, just look at the difference between STP and Pearl Jam's music in 1996. Like other reviewers have pointed out too, PJ's 1996 masterpiece 'No Code' is a mile away from 'Tiny Music'. Both are diverse efforts but show two bands who once sounded similar moving in completely different directions. STP try out all sorts of different styles in this 12 track outing. The work comes fully equipped with rocking tunes, country styled instumentals, bossanovas and even a bit of jazz fusion! Some songs work better than others but there are no poor tracks on this work; it's great. In fact, my only real complaint, a similar one I have of which with the band's next album 'No.4', is that there isn't enough of this great music. At 41 minutes the albums run time does fall on the short side. However, these complaints aside, you have to give the band enormous credit for breaking their original mold and developing. Individually, the 4 members are playing on top form. Scott Weiland gives plenty of moody but energetic performances, showing his development as a vocalist and the deLeo brothers faultlessly tackle different guitar/bass styles on the work. 'Tiny Music' is an album full of surprises; I just wish it had the god damn tracklisting printed on the CD back (a problem found also with 'Purple').
So, what about the 12 songs on this album? 'Press Play' is a clever and interesting start. The opener is a 1 minute fade in of sorts, with a quirky, funky synthesizer part driving the song. It sounds more like a song you'd hear being played in a hotel reception! Next though, the album full begins to mean business with 'Pop's Love Suicide'. This a catchy rock song with the classic STP riff sound to it. Similarly, 'Tumble In The Rough' keeps the album rocking. A stunted guitar start builds into another song with a catchy riff to it; more good vocals from Weiland on this one. 'Big Bang Baby' was the big hit off the album and it's not hard to see why. It's catchy rolling riff with 'Nothing for free' chorus makes this one a winner. Scott Weiland's gravelly vocals coupled with some almost glam styled guitar work are a great combination on this song. Things then slow down for the more balladic 'Lady Picture Show' where Weiland gives a more controlled vocal performance over some great riffs and funky chorus. Then, 'And So I Know' follows. A refreshingly surprising track - the song has an almost jazzy/bossanova beat. It's a great song and is awesome to relax to with it's gentle and light feel.
'Tripping On A Hole' then picks up the pace of the album again. Snarling guitars, call and response vocals and another catchy chorus makes this song a solid effort. Then follows for me what is the best track on the album in 'Art School Girl'. A great guitar riff with a cool beat and bassline gives the song a superb start. The sudden turn of aggression in the choruses of the song is a clever change. Then, we have the slow but epic 'Adhesive'. Scott Weiland get's reflective and looks at fame on this song. The grand guitar chords and chorus and the jazz saxophone interlude makes this song a real diverse work. 'Ride The Cliche' is a return to more melodic rock and classic STP trademark music. But...just to throw you, a slow country styled instrumental in 'Daisy' follows. Again a great track to chill out to with plenty of slide guitar. 'Seven Caged Tigers' then provides the finishing track to the album and what an awesome closing song it is. More catchy guitar riffs, especially in the chorus and another deep, inspired vocal performance from Weiland feature in this song. The oriental sounding fade out at the end of the track marks an interesting end to an interesting but very well executed album.
STP are no joke. Beyond the attacks they sometimes get for being grunge 'rip offs' in their really early work lies a band which produced more than their fair share of original music during their time. 'Tiny Music...', STP's most diverse work, is proof of this. It's just a shame that this is perhaps the band's most underrated work in their catalogue. Any fan of alternative 90's rock should pick up this album or any music fan in general in all truth. This catchy, likable work is full of surprises and shouldn't disappoint.
MY RATING: 8.5/10
Plum: Paradoxically, as Stone Temple Pilots were ascending toward the nacreous milieu that would become Tiny Music... the members were nearly aimless in their objectives. Eric Kretz admits a sundry of dilemmas and frustrations had appeared between all band members. Meanwhile, Scott Weiland had been arrested for possession of white poison. Fortunately for stoic fans, October of 1995 found the four pilots, Brendan O'Brien, and crew convened under the purportedly haunted roof of Westerly Ranch in Santa Ynez. The album plays out like a Beatles record in some cases, filled with difficult-to-hear background voices, layers of musical instruments, and subtle effects and editing.
Violaceous: Tiny Music... commences with the soft Press Play, portending an album that would achieve a distinctly superior level of musicianship not easily found in later releases. On the left track, Robert plucks the soft guitars while brother Dean takes on the reverse role as bassist. Producer Brendan joins in on the right track with the Fender Rhodes Piano, and Scott helps Eric with percussion. This warm reception by the entire team welcomes the listener to the watery skies of Tiny Music... Pop's Love Suicide is an immediate prelusion to Scott's presentation of carefree, soul-drifting drug-induced poetry. Scott does not indulge in the oppressive pathos of his treatments, the withdrawals, or the crashes. In these songs, Scott elucidates past lyrics---for example, "down the river" in Adhesive compared to "sell me down the river" in Kitchenware & Candybars---by altering the bleak outlook found within Core and Purple into the pulchritudinous and hypnogogic journey of reasoning behind his decisions. Scott isn't singing excuses; by this point, he has conceded and accepted the Blue world he is living.
Purpure: Scott's sole composition effort, the strange but energetic Tumble in the Rough, contains lyrics that are the most sober and self-aware of the entire album. Eric's effectively monotonous loose snare resonates with echoes of Scott's deterioration. At the very end, with headphones, it's possible to hear eerie guitar effects on the right track. Big Bang Baby is the first of six songs penned by the prolific Robert DeLeo. Eric recorded his drums for this song on the front lawn of the Westerly Ranch. It's important to note that Scott's "sell your soul" motif will be repeated five years later in the song Regeneration. At approximately 2:28 elapsed time, a digital glitch on the "I" of "I wanna die" can be heard on the left track. The error was never corrected for the track on the Thank You album. Two people can be heard laughing at the end.
Heliotrope: The ever-cryptic Lady Picture Show has been labeled as Beatles-esque by the media, but perhaps more for Scott's vocals (whose layered voice greatly resembles Paul McCartney's) than for the song's style. Listen for the "horse" effect and digital beeps at the end. And So I Know is STP's most divine and relaxing song written. The song may be about the ephemeral ardor while making love to a girl in the forest, only to never see her again. It is as surprising as it is pleasant that the same band that brought us the contrasting Sex Type Thing composed And So I Know. Smash cut to Eric Kretz's vigorous Trippin' On a Hole in a Paper Heart, the hardest of all Tiny Music... Mr. Weiland explains the song simply: it's about a bad acid trip. His "hold me closer, closer let me go" is repeated in Adhesive: "He holds it closer lets it go," and Ride the Cliché: "Hold me closer let me go away."
Amaranthine: Art School Girl is a cute little tune that is, at first, frustrating in composition; just when it gets soothing, it breaks out into a hard-rock dissension. Listen for Brendan's church-like Clavinet during the slower, reverberated bridge. During the final "She left her home" section, someone shouts numbers in the background. Adhesive is quite possibly the headlining track on Tiny Music... It is as illuminating as it is beautiful. The cartoonish, fanciful verse describes Scott's submerged (or supernal) and quiescent world of opiates, while discussing the effects and pressures of the record labels. In this way, it resembles Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. The "adhesive love" is not dissimilar to a forced marriage. Adhesive is also the most perfectly recorded and edited track; there are no hard cuts (audible with headphones on many tracks), digital glitches, or guitar preparatory noises. Scott has said Adhesive is the most difficult to sing but means the most to him, lyrically. It is also Eric's favorite track on Tiny Music...
Hyacinth: Ride the Cliché is the most straightforward of Tiny Music... and ostensibly out of place. At 1:22 elapsed time, someone yells "paid!" in the distant background. As the album comes to its conclusion, however, STP throws on two delightful tracks. Daisy is a two-guitar instrumental, upbeat and optimistic in melody, but lonely in character; a far cry from Dean's somber No Memory, found on Core. One could imagine Daisy is a girl; however, take Scott's lyrical "...not so daisy picture perfect anymore" (from Lady Picture Show) and the art direction from Thank You (which was pushed for solely by Robert) and it is easy to imagine the song is actually about the flower. A single, heavenly white daisy, blowing in the cool breezes rolling down green hills. The semblance is as fitting as Stone Temple Pilots's image, which has changed from Core's grunge to an almost "delightful" rock of Tiny Music... and "thankful" rock of Shangri-La-Dee-Da. Daisy is in the same key as Seven Caged Tigers and so segues harmonically into Dean's wonderful composition. The lyrics are a startling send-off by Scott, whose "truth's getting farther and farther." During the recording process, many guitar leads were taped in different rooms of the house. It is possible to imagine the final guitars in Seven Caged Tigers were recorded in the bathroom, due to the hollow and distant reverb.
I wrote this lengthy review as a Thank You to Stone Temple Pilots for their decade of superior rock music.
From the moment you "Press Play" literally, you are a passenger in a different car on this new highway of STP's career. The grunge of Core and Purple is supplanted with 60s Lennon/Beatles influences. Some critics suggest STP lifted from Redd Kross whom they toured with. Six of one/half dozen of the other as they say. It is still great music none-the-less and the commercial strength and versatile STP formula of songwriting is most evident of Tiny Music. They are a veritable chameleon.
STP like many great musicians and artists, borrow and lift and repurpose, if by osmosis alone. It is the nature of the songwriting beast and the Beatles were guilty of it too. This review is written at a time of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven trial concluding in a "Not Guilty" verdict. Cleared of plagiarism once and for all. It is also the 20 year anniversary of Tiny Music.
But lets travel back in time to 1996 when "Tiny Music from the Vatican Shop" hit the stores (yes, there were still record stores like Tower Records on Sunset to sell it).
If you went to the movies, you would've seen Jerry Maquire (although I did not, I got sick of "Show me the Money"). If you liked comedies you would've seen Jim Carrey as "The Cable Guy," or maybe "Striptease" (I read the book/skipped the movie). "Swingers"... Again tired of everybody thinking they were "so money." Dusk Till Dawn. You didn't have a Pentium II yet in your computer. Palm Pilots, yeah, the thing with the pen, were the early Smartphones. Pro Tools, which would revolutionize home recording for musicians, was still in early development (Pro Tools finally reached 24-bit, 48 tracks in '97).
More to the point, music in '96 was changing. "All Eyez" were on Tupac (California Love/I Ain't Mad at Cha were damn good) along with Snoop's Doggfather and you probably listened to both -- Maybe Beck's innovative Odelay. Cake was "Going the Distance." -- I tuned into DJ Shadow's "Entroducing" and Tricky myself. Whatever you listened to, music was turning the corner once again in our culture.
But here is where STP gets it right.
Rappers, DJs, Trip Hop, rock, namely STP were all reaching backwards to the old masters and creating and updating new styles of music. All of these artists were experimenting with new blends, beats and textures.
Tiny Music's pacing is well thought out, with Brendan O'Brien once again at the helm producing. The first three cuts, like "Purple," is classic driven rock and roll.
Lyrically and vocally Weiland reached back to Lennon and Bowie (Rock and Rock Suicide/Bowie, Pop Suicide/STP). He said they "wanted to make a statement" and "deconstruct and go low-tech, get to the heart of the matter." "Big Bang Baby" is Rolling Stones "Jumping Jack Flash."
"Does anybody know how the story really goes, or do we all just hum along..."
Weiland also felt it was a dark record. You still have consistent themes of addiction. "Lady Picture Show" is commercial on the surface, but deals with a dark subject.
You will notice a different tone on Dean DeLeo's guitar. According to the Below Empty blog, DeLeo is quoted as saying, '"Tiny Music... is a '57 Les Paul TV Special that I played through a '66 Marshall 18-watt 2x10 combo. That amp loves P-90's. I used that combination on "Big Bang Baby."'
Kretz's distinctive snare on "Tumble in the Rough" will also catch your ear.
"And So I Know," is where the detour begins. This song is reminiscent of Little Anthony and the Imperials, "Goin' Out of My Head".
Robert DeLeo, contributes two excellent instrumentals and shows deep roots on: "Press Play" and "Daisy."
Zeppelinesque "Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart" and "Adhesive" just nail it, but STP makes it their own. They added a soulful Miles Davis style solo on "Adhesive," foregoing a traditional guitar solo. However on "Trippin' on a Hole," we do hear DeLeo uniquely channel Jeff Beck.
"Art School Girl" is tongue and cheek, and a throwback to Nirvana. Again, this is what makes STP great. They can mimic and make it their own.
The ride ends with "Seven Caged Tigers," and STP has proven that Tiny Music is Big Music and relevant music even now, 20 years later.