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Friday, December 15, 2006

Record Breaker: Stone Temple Pilot's Tiny Music from the Vatican Gift Shop album

The Year is 1996 and this is Stone Temple Pilot's Tiny Music from the Vatican Gift Shop, the band's third record release - and their wildest to date. The backdrop for this story is a time between grunge and modern alternative music. In a time before Velvet Revolver there was Stone Temple Pilots.



This is the story of STP's third amazing release, criticized and misunderstood at the time, it was still a smashing commercial success. This album is a modern classic - having gone DOUBLE PLATINUM in sales. Critically and biographically, the tale of this album takes place in the public space between sanity and drug binge in a space between alterno-pop, grunge guitar and rock experimentation for the rock star and his band.



STONE TEMPLE PILOTS - formed in Long Beach, California


Despite three number one singles in Lady Picture Show, Big Bang Baby and Trippin' On a Hole in My Paper Heart, the critics just didn't grasp the album's twelve tracks.


Most reviewers missed the mark with the album.
Few critics understood it. Pitchfork wasn't alone in slamming the album, but their review was perhaps the most venomous! Reviewer Ryan Schreiber of Pitchfork had this to say about the release; "There's nothing for sale at the Vatican Gift Shop but lousy, repetitive riffs, wimpy lyrics, and a drug-addled sonofabitch that should have OD'ed a long time ago." Wow. For Pitchfork not to like the album is one thing. To give the album an "0.8 out of 10.0" (the Actual score in the Schreiber review!) is another... But this guy actually wished Weiland embarrassed and dead. That's a pretty personal and scathing attack. (Some things never change.)

Weiland's drug abuse (suspected at first and known privately since the release of the band's second album "Purple" in 1994) was at the center of the album release and may have explained a great number of critic's low scores and overall poor reviews in the press. None of the talk about drugs kept the fans away as the record debuted at the number four spot in the USA in April 1996.

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Troubled and Talented
Scott Weiland was terribly talented and defined what it means to be a Rock Star. STP Live shows, when they happened, were just incredible.


THE TINY MUSIC SINGLES

Two unappreciated masterpieces from Tiny Music
(my two favorite tracks from the album)




THE AFTERMATH OF TINY MUSIC
Fueled by drugs and booze, the songs and live performances rolled off Weiland's tongue. When he played live shows he was artistic and crisp. The problem was that he wasn't making all the shows. In and out of rehab in 1996 and 1997, Weiland's drug addiction was a serious impairment to the band planning a tour to support the Tiny Music album. There was some talk about the band firing the singer (despite the pleas of fans who loved the band's sound) and fulfilling Stone Temple Pilot's five record deal with Atlantic Records.



Two publicly-known stretches in court-ordered rehab squelched talks of firing Weiland as his bandmates considered moving on with their own solo careers. The band got back together to do three more albums; "Four", "Shangri-La Dee Da" and "Thank You." Over these last few releases, Weiland was getting sober and much of the magic made with this music (possibly connected to this change, or perhaps because of it) was gone. The impact of "Core", "Purple" and "Tiny Music..." could not be recreated. An era of the modern "Rock Star" had been ushered into the world, but it's star pupil was gone.

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