FROM WORST TO BEST
Written by Andy Derer
On our new recurring segment #RANKIT, I tackle the work of the Scott Weiland through his many phases. From grunge rock to glam rock, Weiland’s career, albeit cut short, took many interesting twists and turns. Here is his catalogue from best to worst. (Note: I intentionally omitted the 2015 self-titled album he did with the band Art Of Anarchy as he publicly disowned it months prior to his passing in December 2015.)
R.I.P. Scott Weiland (1967 – 2015)
Happy In Galoshes (2008)
Sounding tossed-off and in need of a good editor, Weiland released this solo double album a decade after his previous and the results were a decidedly mixed bag. Chicago indie-rock sound-sculptor Steve Albini couldn’t even save this collection that sounds unsure of what direction to take.
The final release of Weiland’s career found him backed by some young hired guns (The Wildabouts), but the band doesn’t gel and completely lacks the chemistry of Scott’s two other bands. Weiland’s voice and songwriting skills are present and sometimes vivid, but the Wildabouts drag down the preceedings with their hammy riffing.
Velvet Revolver’s Contraband was Weiland’s biggest hit in a decade and it made it more special since the 2000’s were not known for the popularity of hard rock. The follow-up lacks the consistency of the first VR release and relies heavily on Slash and Duff McKagan’s thirty-year musical bond. Weiland sounds somewhat checked out.
The final release of STP Mach 1, this glossy collection is steeped in Hollywood lore. Aiming for something akin to Hole’s Celebrity Skin, SLDD instead ended up sounding more like Buckcherry and is only saved by the pop hit “Days Of The Week” and Weiland’s kiss-off to Courtney Love “Too Cool Queenie.”
Stone Temple Pilots (2010)
After 9 years Weiland gets his act together and returns to what brought him into the conversation two decades ago. The self-titled Stone Temple Pilots record finds the DeLeo brothers weaving a grand, psychedelic rock album that may be Weiland’s most accelectic album since Tiny Music.
No. 4 (1999)
This hard-metallic offering mirrored the Woodstock 99 / Nu Metal / Family Values tour trend of 1999. It was a semi-awkward fit for dudes entering their 40’s, but the band remembered to bring top-shelf songs such as the pit-starting “Down” and their enduring psych-ballad hit “Sour Girl.” The last track on the album “Atlanta” is one of Weiland’s greatest vocal performances of his career, carrying a gorgeous melody with the swagger of Frank Sinatra or Jim Morrison.
The second break up of Stone Temple Pilots found Scott playing multiple sober-living gigs around Hollywood, which eventually put him in contact with three ex Guns N Roses members. Slash, Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum decided to create a supergroup and proudly celebrate Sunset Strip hard-rock sleaze with Velvet Revolver. While the music would have sounded better in the late 80’s, the Gunners and Weiland have a definite chemistry.
The band formerly known as Mighty Joe Young mixed cover-worthy fashion looks with instant-gratification hard rock, and they couldn’t have possibly hit at a better time. Core hit right away and then stayed on the charts and on MTV for years, pushing Weiland to superstar status as well as establishing producer Brendan O’Brien’s career. Some called STP a cheap Pearl Jam rip-off, but the reality is that Pearl Jam heard Core and then subsequently began a long and fruitful discography with the producer. The thing is absolutely riddled with earworms that arguably soundtracked the early 90’s just as much as Nevermind, Ten or Siamese Dream.
12 Bar Blues (1998)
The first break up of STP found the guys working with a new, charisma-free singer for the band Talk Show while Weiland created this Bowie-esque masterwork. Stepping outside anything remotely resembling grunge-rock, Scott channels Scott Walker, Burt Bacharach and Brian Eno and peppers that with new wave and the results were excellent.
Tiny Music… From the Vatican Gift Shop (1996)
After 1994’s multi-platinum Purple album, the guys could have easily duplicated that successful sound, instead they took the hard road both in the studio and out, with Weiland beginning his descent into his demons. The music reflected this unease, even though the DeLeo brothers dress up the sound in a colorful eclecticism that more mirrored classic rock than anything contemporary. Not a single bad song on this record.
Purple was the first time that people took a second and realized that STP were the real deal. After four hit singles on the debut, they added another four hits here exemplified in the winding, soul rock rifts of “Interstate Love Song.” “Big Empty” brought the pathos like no other band except Nirvana or R.E.M. could deliver with such power and was debuted during their iconic MTV Unplugged performance. This is the grand coming out party for one of the 90’s greatest alternative rock bands. Neither Weiland nor the rest of the band would ever return to this perfection.