Faith No More – Angel Dust (1992)


Warner Bros. figured that lightning could strike twice at a time when oodles of (most horribly bad) funk-metal acts were following in Faith No More’s and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ footsteps. In response, the former recorded and released the bizarro masterpiece Angel Dust. Mike Patton’s work in Mr. Bungle proved just how strange and inspired he could get given the opportunity; now, in his more famous act, nothing was ignored. “Land of Sunshine” starts things off in a vein similar to The Real Thing, but Patton’s vocal role-playing is smarter and more accomplished, with the lyrics trashing a smug bastard with pure inspired mockery. From there, Angel Dust mixes the meta-metal of earlier days with the expected puree of other influences, including a cinematic sense of atmosphere. The album ends with a cover of John Barry’s “Midnight Cowboy,” which suits the mood perfectly, but the stretched-out, tense moments on “Caffeine” and the soaring charge of “Everything’s Ruined” make for other good examples. Even a Kronos Quartet sample crops up on the frazzled sprawl of “Malpractice.” Other sampling and studio treatments come to the fore throughout, adding quirks like the distorted voices on “Smaller and Smaller.” The band’s sense of humor crops up frequently ? there’s the hilarious portrayal of prepubescent angst on “Kindergarten,” made all the more entertaining by the music’s straightforward approach, or the beyond-stereotypical white trash cornpone narration of “RV,” all while the music breezily swings along. Patton’s voice is stronger and downright smooth at many points throughout, the musicians collectively still know their stuff, and the result is twisted entertainment at its finest.

1 Land of Sunshine
2 Caffeine
3 Midlife Crisis
4 RV
5 Smaller and Smaller
6 Everything’s Ruined
7 Malpractice
8 Kindergarten
9 Be Aggressive
10 A Small Victory
11 Crack Hitler
12 Jizzlobber
13 Midnight Cowboy
14 Easy (Bonus)


Faith No More – The Real Thing (1989)


Starting with the careening “From Out of Nowhere,” driven by Bottum’s doomy, energetic keyboards, Faith No More rebounded excellently on The Real Thing after Mosley’s firing. Given that the band had nearly finished recording the music and Patton was a last minute recruit, he adjusts to the proceedings well. His insane, wide-ranging musical interests would have to wait for the next album for their proper integration, but the band already showed enough of that to make it an inspired combination. Bottum, in particular, remains the wild card, coloring Martin’s nuclear-strength riffs and the Gould/Bordin rhythm slams with everything from quirky hooks to pristine synth sheen. It’s not quite early Brian Eno joins Led Zeppelin and Funkadelic, but it’s closer than might be thought, based on the nutty lounge vibes of “Edge of the World” and the Arabic melodies and feedback of “Woodpeckers From Mars.” “Falling to Pieces,” a fractured anthem with a delicious delivery from Patton, should have been a bigger single that it was, while “Surprise! You’re Dead!” and the title track stuff riffs down the listener’s throat. The best-known song remains the appropriately titled “Epic,” which lives up to its name from the bombastic opening to the concluding piano and the crunching, stomping funk metal in between.

1 From Out of Nowhere
2 Epic
3 Falling to Pieces
4 Surprise! You’re Dead!
5 Zombie Eaters
6 The Real Thing
7 Underwater Love
8 The Morning After
9 Woodpecker from Mars
10 War Pigs
11 Edge of the World

Stone Temple Pilots – Shangri-La Dee Da (2001)


No. 4 gave Stone Temple Pilots the comeback they were looking for, albeit a little later and a little differently than expected. Nearly a year after its release, “Sour Girl” gave the band its biggest hit in years, and it set up their fifth album, Shangri-La Dee Da, perfectly. They seized this opportunity by turning out the same record as the time before, splitting the difference between heavy rockers and sugar-sweet psych-pop tunes. That’s not a bad thing, nor is it unexpected, since they’ve basically been staking this same territory since Tiny Music, yet at this point, it feels as if the Pilots are comfortably within a musical groove, no matter how much turmoil they have privately. Here, as on 4, they’re not just better on the pop tunes, they’re phenomenal on the pop tunes. Regardless of their critical reputation, no rock band of their time turned out such a consistently dazzling streak of pop tunes. Sometimes, the rockers do catch hold ? “Dumb Love” provides a gripping opening, “Hollywood Bitch” has a real sense of propulsion, the dreamy “Hello It’s Late” has a gentle rush of its own ? but, by this point, they don’t seem as interesting as the excursions into psych-pop that gives Shangri-La Dee Da its real core. That’s nothing new, but that’s not a bad thing at all.

1 Dumb Love
2 Days of the Week
3 Coma
4 Hollywood Bitch
5 Wonderful
6 Black Again
7 Hello It’s Late
8 Too Cool
9 Regeneration
10 Bi-Polar Bear
11 Transmissions From a Lonely Room
12 A Song for Sleeping
13 Long Way Home

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Stone Temple Pilots – No. 4 (1999)


It would be tempting to scour No. 4, Scott Weiland’s reunion with Stone Temple Pilots, for insights into his troubles, yet the group consciously avoids this throughout the album. That’s for the best, since it’s their hardest effort since their debut, Core. “Down” and “Heaven & Hot Rods” provide a powerful, brutal opening for No. 4 ? it’s as if STP decided to compete directly with the new generation of alt-metal bands who prize aggression over hooks or riffs. With these two songs, the band’s attack is as vicious as that of the new generation, but they retain their gift for gargantuan hooks. Much of the album hits pretty hard ? most explicitly on “No Way Out,” “Sex & Violence,” and “MC5,” ? and even the ballads and neo-psychedelic pop have none of the swirling production that distinguished Tiny Music. That sense of adventure is missed, because even if the album finds STP returning to the muscular hard rock that made them, they always sounded better when they concentrated on melodicism. No. 4’s most effective moments have a variety of sonic textures and color ? “Pruno” tempers its giant riffs with spacy verses; “Church on Tuesday” is a great pop tune, as are the trippy “Sour Girl” and “I Got You”; and the psychedelic “Glide” and closing ballad, “Atlanta,” have a sense of majesty. These songs anchor the heavier moments, instead of the other way around, and it all plays well together. As a matter of fact, No. 4 is as tight as Tiny Music. Even if it isn’t as grandiose or sonically compelling as that effort, it’s a record that consolidates all their strengths.

1 Down
2 Heaven & Hot Rods
3 Pruno
4 Church on Tuesday
5 Sour Girl
6 No Way Out
7 Sex & Violence
8 Glide
9 I Got You
10 MC5
11 Atlanta

Stone Temple Pilots – Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop (1996)


Purple established that Stone Temple Pilots were not one-album wonders but Tiny Music…Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop illustrates that the band aren’t content with resting on their laurels. Without abandoning their trademark hard rock, STP have added a new array of sounds that lend depth to their immediately accessible hooks. Dean DeLeo layers his guitar tracks to create distinctive, multi-textured sounds that make his riffs more powerful. Though there are hints of grunge scattered throughout the album, what makes Tiny Music impressive is how the band brings in elements of psychedelia, trancy shoegaze, jangle pop, and other forms of melodic alternative guitar pop. By accentuating their pop tendencies in both their riffs and melodies, they are able to slip in a number of creative arrangements which manage to expand their musical repertoire significantly. Although the lyrics are nearly as ambitious as the music, they simply don’t have the same weight. But with a band like Stone Temple Pilots, the music is what matters and Tiny Music showcases the band at their most tuneful and creative.

1 Press Play
2 Pop’s Love Suicide
3 Tumble in the Rough
4 Big Bang Baby
5 Lady Picture Show
6 And So I Know
7 Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart
8 Art School Girl
9 Adhesive
10 Ride the Clich?
11 Daisy
12 Seven Caged Tigers

Stone Temple Pilots – Purple (1994)


Stone Temple Pilots had hits with Core, but they got no respect. They suffered a barrage of savage criticism and it must have hurt, since their second effort seems a conscious effort to distinguish themselves as a band not indebted to grunge. That didn’t get them anywhere, as they were attacked as viciously as before, but Purple is nevertheless a quantum leap over their debut, showcasing a band hitting its stride. Yes, they were considerably more mainstream than their peers, but time has proven that that’s their primary charm, since they were unafraid to temper their grunge with big arena hooks and swirling melodies. It works particularly well on the tight, concise “Vasoline” and the acoustic-based “Pretty Penny,” but it really shines on the record’s two masterpieces, “Big Empty” and “Interstate Love Song.” “Big Empty” is ominous and foreboding, yet remains anthemic, a perfect encapsulation of mainstream alienation that is surpassed only by “Interstate Love Song,” a concise epic as alluring as the open highway. Those singles are proof positive that STP was the best straight-ahead rock singles outfit of their time.

1 Meat Plow
2 Vasoline
3 Lounge Fly
4 Interstate Love Song
5 Still Remains
6 Pretty Penny
7 Silver Gun Superman
8 Big Empty
9 Unglued
10 Army Ants
11 Kitchen Ware & Candy Bars

Stone Temple Pilots – MTV Unplugged (1993)


Stone Temple Pilots taped a performance for “MTV Unplugged” in New York City in November of 1993. Band members Weiland (vocals), Robert DeLeo (bass), Dean DeLeo (guitars) and Eric Kretz (drums) perform a rockin’ acoustic set featuring tracks off their debut album Core.

1 Crackerman
2 Creep
3 Plush
4 Wicked Garden
5 Andy Warhol
6 Big Empty
7 Sex Type Thing