Hits & Misses of ’90s Comebacks (Part 1)

Some of you may remember a band by the name of Stone Temple Pilots.  If you do, you’ll likely remember that they were one of the biggest bands in the early and mid-90’s, monopolizing rock radio airplay with songs such as Creep, Plush, Vasoline, Interstate Love Song and Big Empty.  When their first album, Core, came out in late ‘92 and began climbing the charts in ’93, they were accused of copying “grunge” counterparts, Pearl Jam, in their music and vocal tones.  Despite the accusations, Core stood on it’s own two feet and the song Plush won Best Hard Rock Performance at the Grammys in 1994.

Please understand that I was a huge STP fan.  The albums Core, Purple and Tiny Music… were on heavy rotation when I was younger.  To illustrate how much these albums influenced my musical tastes and aspirations, my first “favourite” guitar solo was on the Purple album in the song Silvergun Superman (great song and solo, if you haven’t heard it!).  I still remember sitting on the floor listening to the song and thinking, “I wanna be able to play guitar like that someday”.  The drum fill leading up to the chorus in Big Empty instilled in me a yearning to learn to play the drums someday.

The reason I explain all this is because I fell off the STP bandwagon many years ago.  My lack of respect for Scott Weiland may have had something to do with it, but it was moreso the lack of quality music they were coming out with.  The album Tiny Music…Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop came out in 1996 and although a pretty solid album, I have not purchased an STP album since.  They have just released a new self-titled album and after hearing their first single, Between the Lines, I probably won’t buy the album.  Not because it’s a horrible song, because it’s not really that bad, but it just doesn’t possess the soul and musical prowess that their earlier albums had so much of.  I can’t go from listening to the Purple or Core albums to this album, it just doesn’t fit to me.  Too much has changed, not enough has stayed the same, including Weiland’s voice.

Maybe time will change my mind.  I kind of wish they quit while they were ahead, somewhere around the turn of the century.  In terms of 90’s bands with unfinished business, my hat goes off to Alice In Chains.  Here is a band that hadn’t released a studio album since 1995 and had a singer overdose and die in 2002 (I think), which seemed to cue the end of all things Alice In Chains.  Then, out of nowhere, in 2006, there watalk of reuniting with a new singer who had a similar growl that the deceased Layne Staley possessed; then a mini-tour backing Velvet Revolver (oddly enough, the “supergroup” Scott Weiland was fronting at the time) as an opening act with this new singer; then talk of recording new material, and finally in 2009, a new album, 14 years since their last studio effort.

Now, not only did Alice In Chains produce a hit single “Check My Brain”, which is vintage AIC (in my opinion), they produced a solid, classic AIC album.  No disrespect to Layne Staley at all, because he was truly one of a kind, but with the addition of William Duvall as co-vocalist with Jerry Cantrell, AIC is as close to the original lineup as they could be and rocking just as hard as they had in the past.  Songs such as Lesson Learned, Take Her Out and All Secrets Known hark back to the days of Grind, Junkhead, or Man In the Box with just as much melody, if not more, and just as much sludgy guitar riffing.  Songs like Your Decision and When the Sun Rose Again are reminiscent of their mid-90’s Jar Of Flies acoustic 7-song EP.

All in all, this is a great example of a successful ‘90’s band comeback.  They experienced a great deal of turmoil and adversity, and when all seemed lost, they managed to produce an equally amazing album as they had managed to produce in the past.  I find it interesting that two bands such as the ones I’ve been writing about could follow similar paths and yet have such different results.  I guess I wish STP could have recaptured what made them special to me when I was younger with their new album as AIC just did last year with theirs.

At least neither of those bands followed the slippery slope Pearl Jam began sliding down a decade ago.  But that’s another blog for another day.

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~ by whet_hopped on June 1, 2010.

2 Responses to “Hits & Misses of ’90s Comebacks (Part 1)”

  1. Excellent upgrade to the site, much easier to read.

    Good examples of 90s comebacks/failures. AIC did come back very strong and really did justice to their well known sound and style. We should play “Check My Brain” this saturday, three way harmonies FTW!

    • Thanks buddy! Thought the standard layout was pretty dull… Like my psychedelic photo of my G&L? 😛
      AIC’s new album is rock solid, for sure. They don’t show signs of slowing down either. Lots of tours and press, I’m hoping for a new album in a year or so! But that might be pushing it. So long as it’s shorter than 14 years between albums, I’ll be happy.
      “Check My Brain” would be money! Three part harmonies are my fave! Let’s do it.

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