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'Purple' is the second studio album released by the Stone Temple Pilots. The album, building on the foundations laid by the band's debut album 'Core' was a huge success for the band, debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and selling over six million copies worldwide. The album's style sees an expansion of the band's sound. They shifted to a more alternative rock-style, incorporating some psychedelic and southern rock influences. It produced a number of successful singles such as 'Vaseline', 'Interstate Love Song' and 'Big Empty'. Music On Vinyl is proud to add this legendary name to their catalogue.
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Purple is almost pop-music in its songwriting approach, with emphasis on big, throbbing hooks, sharp production, and execution. "Meat Plow" opens the album on a sneer and a bristling beat, and then "Vasoline" announces the band's intent to experiment. Two notes on a guitar tell the story, and Scott Weiland's unusually nuanced singing combine for the strangest grunge anthem since Alice in Chains' "Would?". "Pretty Penny" finds the band in dreamy territory with its best ballad ever, hands down, Weiland's singing evocative and emotive; "Big Empty" has dynamics and huge surges of guitar; "Still Remains" is infectious in its melody, imagery and sexual tension; and "Interstate Love Song" is another anthemic crunch a la "Plush", the biggest modern-rock hit of its time (a record it held until a year or two ago). The album suckerpunches yet again at the end with the incredibly weird but maddeningly catchy lounge tune (not performed by the band) that thumbs its nose at conventional album recording and is another showcase of the sense of humour that Stone Temple Pilots have begun to mine.
Very worthy, very catchy rock and roll; an album that begins to carve STP an identity independent of its forerunners.
Truth be told, these accusations were not without merit. While the band insisted that the bulk of "Core" was written as far back as 1988, the album did sound derivative of the Seattle soundbook. Released in 1992, "Core" blended the punkish riffs of Nirvana, the baritone growls and stylistic craft of Pearl Jam, and the metallic crunch of Alice In Chains. But with "Core," the album was ultra radio friendly, the songs ultra infectious, which made the album both a smash hit and a number one target.
Was "Core" a rip-off? Maybe. A great record? Most defiantly. But where to go from there?
Stone Temple Pilots had a lot to prove with their sophomore album. The second album is often the hardest, as the "sophomore slump" is not uncommon. With their credibility and integrity under so much criticism, STP had to not only come up with a great bunch of songs, they also had to stretch their artistic muscle, lest their critics label them a disingenuous, opportunistic one-album-wonder.
Recoded in just one month, STP's sophomore album "Purple" was released in the spring of 1994. Compared to "Core," "Purple" is a far leaner, muscular album, sounding far less generic. While "Purple" doesn't sound 180 degrees radically different from the debut, much of the borrowing of the sounds of the Seattle "big four" (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains) is left behind as STP was starting to find their own voice. With their second album the band sounds tighter, more cohesive. Dean DeLeo's riffs and solos should have been a breath of fresh air for anyone longing for the days of 70s guitar-heavy AOR. Vocalist Scott Weiland, always one for experimenting with sounds (just look at his underrated 1998 solo album "12 Bar Blues") gives the songs a lot of color, making them far above average. Eric Kretz (drums) and Robert DeLeo (bass) as always, provide an exciting and dynamic rhythm section.
Many fans/critics/reviewers have labeled "Purple" a "grunge" album. Truth be told, however, "Purple" doesn't really have the characteristics of the grunge sound. Grunge is all about "the fuzz" with intense drumming, feedback, a "dirty" guitar, etc. Bands like Nirvana, Mudhoney, early Soundgarden, Hole, Green River, etc, exemplified the grunge sound. "Purple," by comparison, is far more commercial. STP was never meant to be an underground band with street cred, as the band lusted after the arenas from day one. STP wrote songs that were made to be played on the radio, not Sub Pop compilations. And while "Core" borrowed from the Seattle scene, "Purple" sees a strong Zeppelin/Sabbath influence, with psychedelic trimmings. In addition, there was nothing anarchic about STP; their songs were well-crafted and, at the risk of sounding cynical, calculated. So to call "Purple," a grunge album is incorrect. Rather, "Purple" is a fine collection of 70s inspired, muscular hard-rock with a twist of psychedelia.
The grinding, sludgy "Meat Plow" gets things off to a great start and would make Tony Iommi himself proud. The classic "Vasoline," a modern-rock staple, is one of the band's all-time greats. The Zeppelin-like riff and strong melody make it incredibly infectious and rock hard. The album takes an unexpected psychedelic twist with "Lounge Fly," throwing the listener a curve-ball. The track actually sounds a bit like Hendrix's "Are you Experienced?" Destined to be played on classic rock stations in 20 years time, "Interstate Love Song," which was the number-one mainstream rock song for nearly four months, is another vintage STP classic. The majestic "Still Remains" is big and epic in scope, swooping up the listener in a colorful sea of sounds. The sparse "Pretty Penny" sounds akin to "Friends" from "Led Zeppelin III" (1970). The hard-rocking "Silvergun Superman" wouldn't have sounded out-of-place on "Core" and while not the album's strongest cut, keeps up the momentum. Featured on the "Crow" (1994) soundtrack, the epic, ominous "Big Empty" was another smash from "Purple" and remains a 90s classic. While most of "Purple" avoided sounding derivative of anything Seattle, the bone-crunching "Unglued" and "Army Ants" sound very Nirvana-esque. However, these two cuts are so infectious, with such great hooks and rock so hard; STP is given a free pass. The haunting, ambitious "Kitchenware and Candybars" concludes the album nicely. Just when you think the album is done, however, you are hit with the totally bizarre "the second album" an unlisted bonus track (thus making "Purple" a collection of "12 gracious melodies.") Much like how the closing "My World" from Guns N' Roses "Use Your Illusion II" (1991) stuck out like a sore thumb, this lounge-lizard ditty is totally out-of-place, but it's cool in its own way and works.
With a little bit of Sabbath, Zeppelin, psychedelia, Nirvana and a lounge number thrown in the mix, "Purple" is a pretty cool, diverse collection of songs. In some ways, "Purple" is somewhat of an underrated album. While "Purple" is generally regarded as the band's best work, many of its songs are over-looked. While "Purple" is renowned for its big singles ("Vasoline," "Interstate Love Song," "Big Empty") the album is chock-full of memorable great songs.
With "Purple" STP proved that they were no one-album-wonder. They fought back accusations of trend-hopping by writing a memorable, eclectic collection of songs, much to the chagrin of their detractors. So while many figured STP to be just a flash-in-the-pan, with "Purple," STP proved that they were just getting started...
Meatplow: Could easily be a Core outtake, the most `grunge' track here. The sound production is muddy and lacks the charm of the tracks that follow. Still an excellent heavy track though 8/10
Vasoline: The first single and what a storming song! Fast guitar playing and an excellent bridge, great to sing along to. One of the highlights 10/10
Lounge Fly: The weird opening and distinctive guitar line make for one of the most unusual tracks on Purple. Love the acoustic guitars that come in and the beautiful singing by Scott Weiland 9/10
Interstate Love Song: The most well-known track and hit single. It's not hard to see why it became so successful with infectious hooks and a catchy chorus to satisfy the fans. 9/10
Still Remains: The best track on the album in my opinion. Gives me goose bumps just thinking about the fantastic melodies. 10/10
Pretty Penny: Pure acoustic number, harmless enough but the songwriting is top notch 8/10
Silver Gun Superman: When I first heard the album back in '94 this was my fav track. Big rock song and immediate crowd pleaser 9/10
Big Empty: Similar in style to Still Remains, and if I recall taken from on The Crow soundtrack. This track was included at the last minute. Sort of country sounding but in an alternative way of course. 8/10
Unglued: Real rock moment, also in the same mould as Vasoline - fast and repetitive chorus over loud guitars 9/10
Army Ants: The least memorable track, which although great seems lost amongst the good stuff 8/10
Kitchen Ware & Candy Bars: Closing on a quiet and poignant note about being sold down the river. I prefer this to Pretty Penny as it reminds me of Nirvana's Something In The Way with a moving string arrangement playing in the background. 9/10
The hidden track is amusing singing about 12 gracious melodies (as shown on the album's back cover on a cake), played straight-faced giving an indication of the direction taken on some tracks off Tiny Music such as Lady Picture Show. Notice how the track ratings did not drop below 8/10 - that's because EVERY single track is of a high standard - all killer, no filler. Also their biggest selling album which is no surprise really.
The funny thing about it is, to me this record is two tracks short. I could have sworn on all holy that Dancing Days was on there. In fact, I never knew it was a Zep song untill I was taping off Houses of the Holy (another great record btw) off the Radio and that came on. That reallly tripped me out. So I went to this record thinking it was on here trying to find it. I findly found the track on Encomium (Led Zep Tribute Album). I still think of that has a STP song, and it (the Zep version) seems weird and unnatural, altho' I do like it. The next is Trippin' On A Hole In A Paper Heart which is on their next record. It would have fit perfectly with this CD. Same quality, same mood, same everything. Its the lost Purple track. I dig it as much as I dig the whole of this album.
This is one of my fav's of all time, the whole thing is extremly catchy. There is not a single bad tune on it, and that is saying a lot. Many bands have different songs I really love a lot (like I Alone by Live), but none of the grunge bands have crammed this many onto one album. The WHOLE album is great. The closet someone comes to this is Bush on Sixteen Stone. (Sorry ... is it just me but save for the some of the songs on the first side, did Razorblade Suitcase pretty much suck and Deconstructed absoletly horrible?)
With Purple, they got it right. The DeLeo brothers' incredible songwriting paired with Weiland's lyrics to form an accreted image of a self-punishing naif flailing--but not quite drowning--in the wicked world. Life's aches and pains permeated all these tunes, the best of which--Interstate Love Song, Big Empty, Lounge Fly, Vaseline, the ridiculously named and shockingly good "Meatplow" --plead for understanding in the face of complete relational impasse.
Too, Weiland's voice was an unsung hero, as it were: a flexible, reedy tenor bouncing between raw and warm vibratto--far prettier than he was ever given credit for. The DeLeos filled their songwriting with quirky, Byzantine chord progressions and hooks pounded out of guitars in a violent sludge that never, ever overwhelmed the searching tunes. And Eric Krentz' drumming drove these songs over a cliff into free-fall. These men have done other work since (most notably 4's "Sour Girl, the best thing of their career) but Purple was the STP perfect storm--not one word or note rang false, and most of it was ravishing. Years later, it still is.