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Issue #28:  Stone Temple Pilots – Core

Issue #28: Stone Temple Pilots – Core

Released:  September 29th, 1992

Recorded:  1992

Genre:  Grunge

Record Label:  Atlantic

Duration:  53:37

Producer:  Brendan O’Brien

Personnel

(Regular band members in bold.)

  • Scott Weiland – (as “Weiland) – vocals
  • Dean DeLeo – guitar
  • Robert DeLeo – bass
  • Eric Kretz – drums
  • Brendan O’Brien – producer
  • Steve Stewart – management
  • Nick DiDia – engineer
  • Dick Kaneshiro – 2nd engineer
  • Tom Baker – mastering
  • Kevin Hosmann – art director
  • Katrina Dickson – photography
  • Christian Clayton – illustration  

Track Listing

  1. Dead & Bloated
  2. Sex Type Thing
  3. Wicked Garden
  4. No Memory
  5. Sin
  6. Naked Sunday
  7. Creep
  8. Piece of Pie
  9. Plush
  10. Wet My Bed
  11. Crackerman
  12. Where the River Goes

Singles

  1. Sex Type Thing – January 25th, 1993
  2. Plush – May 13th, 1993
  3. Wicked Garden – (promotional) – 1992
  4. Creep – November 1st, 1993 

Why Core is One of My Favorites

When you hear “grunge,” what immediately comes to mind?  Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden?  Ok, I know some readers will react violently and feverishly begin laying out the history of Sub Pop records and name dropping bands like Green River, Mudhoney, The Melvins…fair enough, but let’s be honest about who brought it to the masses.  So, back to “Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden?”  Well, Stone Temple Pilots (STP) ought to at least be mentioned fourth.  These guys caught static in their early years ostensibly for “sounding like Pearl Jam,” but really, I think critics were just pissy about them coming from San Diego and not Seattle.

If anything, what set STP apart was that they didn’t sound just like Pearl Jam or Nirvana.  STP was heavier, a little sludgier, and a lot more musically refined at the time.  Weiland’s vocal approach was similar to Vedder’s twangy-mumble-moan thing (that’s the best I can do), though I always thought Weiland’s voice had a little more grime and grit to it whereas Vedder chose a more slick and smooth style.

Core is STP’s first album, and one of the better debut albums out there.  Speaking about the record, Weiland took inspiration from the 70’s and wanted to create an album that could be listened to from beginning to end.  He added that Core’s lyrical themes represent humanity’s confusion, which helps to explain why the record isn’t as angsty as its kin.  Coincidentally, Alice in Chains’ Dirt was released on the same day, though I’ll be happy to debate its status as grunge proper.  Ironically, STP was considered somewhat “less gungy” because they weren’t from the Seattle scene, while Alice in Chains were pretty much automatically stuck under the grunge banner because they were from Seattle.

Korn’s debut my have the best opening few seconds of any 90’s album, but Core comes pretty damn close with “Dead and Bloated.”  The quiet, lo-fi vocals allow just enough time to crank up the volume (as anyone should) before POP POP from the drums and the album gets underway.  STP uses their dense crunchy guitars more rhythmically than a lot of grunge acts.  Except for maybe 3 or 4 tracks, all of these songs kick off with a booming guitar riff with plenty of tricks to keep it interesting.  Palm-muting and higher strings really amp up “Sex Type Thing,” while “Wicked Garden” uses churning and aggressive riffing juxtaposed with one of Weiland’s more melodic outings.  “Naked Sunday” uses a “wah-wah” effect atypical of grunge and more at home in the alternative scene.  If I’m being honest, this sort of variety gives Core an appeal beyond the stripped down musicality of grunge.  There’s some incredible drumming on the record as well, particularly in “Wicked Garden” and “Piece of Pie.”

I really can’t figure out what most of these songs are about.  I’ve even spent some time looking at the lyrics in print but they’re just as weird on the screen as they are hearing them.  For instance in “Plush,” the line, “When the dogs begin to smell her / Will she smell alone?” obviously “dog” and “smell” are some sort of metaphor, as is the “smell” of “alone,” but it’s lost on me.  Again in “Crackerman,” “He’s a man, he’s a man / Crackerman Crackerman / he’s a woman too”…a transsexual?  Transvestite?  Metaphor?  There’s nothing to clue me in, except something about guns and rubberbands in the first verse.  Maybe the narrator had sex with a trans person and is trying to process it…?  It would certainly tie in with “humanity’s confusion,” but then again, so could almost anything.  I guess it’s always a bit entertaining to try decoding these things.

One of the best things about Core is the consistent energy level.  It’s got enough frustration and dissatisfaction to keep it grounded, but it isn’t mopey, hate-filled, or otherwise emotionally demanding.  If Weiland’s goal was for STP to make a bunch of songs that fit together as a whole, I’d say the guys pulled it off in fine form.  There are a couple of dips (“No Memory,” “Creep”) but they don’t take anything away from the record.  Core is grunge, it just isn’t “Seattle gunge,” and seriously, did we need another grunge outfit from Seattle?  I love the band’s sense of timing on the album and it’s full of the crunch crunch grind of distorted guitars that I can’t get enough of.  Not many bands project this level of proficiency on their debut, and no picture of grunge is completely without both Core and STP.

Written by The Cubist

Other albums from Stone Temple Pilots in this series:

Back to The Cubist’s 90’s Album

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist


Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

Email me anytime, about anything: thecubist@nerdbacon.com

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