Grunge had dominated the charts in the early ’90s and there was no shortage of bands that sounded like they came from Seattle. Stone Temple Pilot (STP) was not one of them. Some critics tried to dissimilar them as another grunge also ran, but the San Diego California-based STP were much more than that.
Lead vocalist Scott Weiland’s soulful delivery did have some similarities to Curt Cobain, but they ended there. If the polished sound of Core did not sound like a debut, that’s because in a way it wasn’t. The original four members (Robert DeLeo, Eric Kretz, Dean DeLeo and Scott Weiland) were formerly members of Mighty Joe Young, a heavy metal band they formed in 1985.
The album’s named was a reference to the apple eaten by Adam and Eve. Producer Brendan O’Brien structured Core as something of a throwback to the album oriented rock of the ’70s. Despite the ’70s influences, Core was very contemporary in its lyrical scope. The concept of human rights and personal freedom was a reoccurring theme. Writing duties were shared by various members of the band.
Despite the lyrical and thematic diversity, STP was dismissed by a few critics as a knock off grunge band. It didn’t help that Alice In Chain’s Dirt was released on the same day as Core and had a similar sound. Most of the reviews were positive, but it would be the public that would decide in the long run that Core was a great take on the Seattle sound by Californians.
With Core, Stone Temple Pilots proved that not every grunge band subscribed to Neil Young and Jethro Thull’s song book. Despite the ripoff claims, lead vocalist Scott Weiland’s baritone was easily one of the best voices in hard rock and was put to great effect in songs like ‘Dead and Bloated”. But it would be the single ‘Plush’ that would send the band over the top. ‘Plush’ shot up the carts quickly, but Core itself needed almost a six months to gather any steam.
Eventually Core would peak at #3 on the Billboard album chart on the strength of four singles. In ten years the album had reached 8x platinum status, putting it up there with in Nirvana’s Nervermind and Pearl Jam’s 10. The singles not only revealed STP’s heavy metal roots, but further distinguished the band by the choice of grown up subject matter. Songs about rape (‘Sex Type Thing’) and depression (‘Creep’) set them apart from the angst that disguised songs about teen love and sex that seemed to come from everywhere else.
While Core was quite and achievement for a debut album. In two years it would be the band’s next release Purple that set them from the grunge fold.