Stone Temple Pilots is a band cursed to be misunderstood. Their great albums, the best document of their capabilities, prove this.
Despite being fated with tremendous success, the band’s more artistic tendencies went unappreciated for a long time. STP didn’t make it easy on themselves. After all, they always insisted that they were an art-rock band who just happened to play live in giant arenas.
Their discography proves that Scott Weiland and the rest of the quartet might have been right.
Today I look at the discography of the Stone Temple Pilots, stare in amazement at their success, and rank their albums from worst to best.
Stone Temple Pilots’ Albums Ranked
8. “Perdida” (2020)
Peers like Alice in Chains had proven that grunge bands could return without their original frontman. They could even achieve new triumphs doing it.
The DeLeo brothers test that theory with “Perdida.” Their new singer is Jeff Gutt, a fine vocalist who, to his credit, does not ape Scott Weiland’s style.
Once more, Robert De Leo shows that he’s not a top-rated musician for nothing. “Fare Thee Well,” “I Didn’t Know the Time,” and “Miles Away” are all well-constructed modern rock songs. Some songs sound like a rediscovered B-side from the 1990s.
However, it’s also hard to shake the feeling that you’re listening to one of the many other bands impersonating 90’s alternative rock.
“Perdida” is a nice album. It allowed the STP brand to continue. But it won’t create many new fans.
7. “Stone Temple Pilots” (2018)
This is an STP recording with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, the second singer in their career, on the second album of their career to be titled “Stone Temple Pilots.” If this all sounds confusing, trust me, it’s just the start of it.
It’s not a great record, although it could have been, and even though it deserves a fair listen.
A Weilandless STP had been tried before. Army of Anyone had featured Filter’s Richard Patrick on vocals.
The DeLeo brothers may have concluded that they needed the “Stone Temple Pilots” moniker in order to elicit a significant reaction from the public. They were not wrong.
Furthermore, the 2018 “Stone Temple Pilots” album showed that Robert, Dean DeLeo, and Eric Kretz were excellent musicians.
Chester Bennington, like Weiland, is one of the best rock singers of his generation.
Alas, there are two problems here: a. The public wanted to hear the old songs, and the band knew it and b. New songs are tailored to mimic the old ones.
“Meadow,” “Middle of Nowhere” and “Roll Me Under” are extremely competently performed. This is a group of incredible professionals.
But there’s a certain sleazy charm of old that feels missing.
6. “Stone Temple Pilots” (2010)
Despite the jibes they’d launched at each other in the press, the original four members of Stone Temple Pilots always looked likely to stage a reunion.
“Stone Temple Pilots” showed that there was still some oil in the tank. Not only that, but STP’s creative choices had been correct.
In fact, out of all the original alt-rock and grunge bands to reunite, few enjoyed crowds as large as Stone Temple Pilots.
Yes, STP were always people pleasers at heart. But their success with classic rock fans was born out of genuine stagemanship and because they were the owners of a vast catalog of strong material.
“Stone Temple Pilots” doesn’t take anything away from the greatness of the band’s discography. But, as expected, it doesn’t add a lot to it either.
The singles “Between the Lines” and “Take a Load Off” play to the band’s strength, containing muscular guitar riffs and tasty vocal melodies.
Scott Weiland has adapted his vocal style over the years but still possesses a great singing tone. Robert De Leo has added more tricks to his arsenal of songwriting tricks.
“Stone Temple Pilots” is an enjoyable listen but quite one that rivals the band’s best albums.
It would also mark the original band’s last studio album, another predictable event. However, Scott Weiland’s death in 2015 remains a tragic loss of a highly talented, often misunderstood artist.
5. “No. 4” (1999)
“No. 4” is the album on which STP answer the naysayers with some of their most potent hard-rockers and a few of their most ghostly psych-pop songs.
On previous albums, Scott Weiland had used his lyrics to hint at his issues. Some may have incorrectly believed that the singer was merely mirroring the public persona of other troubled alt-rock singers (Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, or Mark Lanegan).
Three albums into their career, however, these problems had not proven only of great significance but threatened to derail Stone Temple Pilots.
“Sour Girl” is one of STP’s best stabs at a pop song. The moody lyrics and almost Beatlesque melodies made this one of the band’s biggest hits.
In many ways, “Sout Girl” relaunched Stone Temple Pilots. The quartet would be playing to a new generation of rock fans who enjoyed Limp Bizkit and Korn more than they liked grunge.
However, some of the band’s most aggressive numbers dominate the rest of the album. Weiland’s vocals have rarely been grittier than on “Down.”
And there’s menace and bitterness on songs like “No Way Out,” “MC5” or “Heaven & Hot Rods.”
4. “Shangri-La Dee Da” (2001)
This is my favorite Stone Temple Pilots album and their most underrated release. It was their last record before their first official breakup. And it didn’t receive much attention when it was released.
It’s an undeserved and surprising oversight.
For one thing, this is a familiar STP sound. It’s a mixture of all they’d established on previous albums. It’s a psychedelically-tinged, sometimes jazzy, hard-rock sound. “Days of the Week” or “Hello It’s Late” sound like commissioned follow-ups to “Sour Girl.”
By and large, however, the batch of songs is superior. The glam-rock groove of “Regeneration” is the work of a band that had learned their trade in front of stadium audiences. “Hollywood Bitch” and “Dumb Love” are grunge rockers meant to build on the collective fever of their large crowds.
But it’s the lesser-known songs where I truly learned to appreciate Stone Temple Pilots. Album closer “Long Way Home” shows that Scott Weiland could be one of his generation’s best singers even when delivering a casual performance.
“Transmission from a Lonely Room” is the driving, swirling sound that ought to have returned psychedelic rock to mainstream rock radio.
And “Bi-Polar Bear” confirms that in terms of sophisticated melodies set against a backdrop of calamitous drama, there was no band like Stone Temple Pilots.
Stone Temple Pilots had proven all of their critics wrong, had rewarded their longtime supporters, and had bowed out respectably.
3. “Core” (1992)
Maybe critics were right. Stone Temple Pilots rocketed all the way to the top. They had ponied on the effort of their alt-rock predecessors. They sounded quite a bit like Pearl Jam, and Weiland made faces while singing a la Eddie Vedder.
However, what even their staunchest critics couldn’t deny was that STP had the songs to help them be a success. Many cooler alternative rock bands of the 1990s simply did not.
“Plush,” “Sex Type Thing,” and “Wicked Garden” have become rock radio staples for a reason. The explanation is that they withstand repeated listening.
But there’s more to “Core” than just hit singles that set STP apart from bands like Soul Collective or Bush.
There’s darkness and even self-loathing on tracks like “Crackerman” or “Dead & Bloated.” This was not merely a way to compete with grunge rivals like Alice in Chains or Soundgarden.
And there’s an almost jazz-like musical sensibility encouraged by the main songwriter Robert De Leo. This would come to the forefront later.
2. “Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop” (1996)
“Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop” finds Stone Temple Pilots looking down at the world from the kingdom that they’d built
After their debut, “Core,” they were forced to hear critics call them grunge sellouts. By “Tiny Music…” STP shows that the band could, indeed, sell out arenas worldwide while maintaining a psychedelic, art-rock edge to their work.
This is one of the band’s most diverse outings. Dean De Leo’s guitar riffs and Eric Kretz’s capable drumming come to the forefront on rockers like “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper” and “Pop’s Love Suicide.”
Meanwhile, STP’s love of 60s guitar-pop manifests itself in the gorgeous “And So I Know, “Adhesive,” or “Lady Picture Show.”
And Scott Weiland takes the opportunity to remind fans of his love of classic punk-rock with the minimalist “Tumble in the Rough.”
“Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop” is one of Stone Temple Pilots’ most satisfying albums.
1. “Purple” (1994)
Stone Temple Pilots had to withstand the endless comparisons to Pearl Jam and Nirvana for a couple of years. But by the release of “Purple,” few music critics dared to snicker.
Stone Temple Pilots grew in leaps and bounds by the time of “Purple.” It’s almost as if a decade of work had elapsed in the span of two years.
STP is still a singles band primarily. But those singles aren’t just straight-ahead grunge attacks as they were on “Core.”
There’s an artsy, psychedelic menace to the sound. The orchestration is simple but sophisticated. And Weiland’s vocal melodies are inspired.
“Interstate Love Song” is one of STP’s best songs and an early indicator that they’d comfortably graduate to playing to stadium-sized audiences soon.
“Vasoline” is one of the grunge era’s most straightforward and memorable singles. “Still Remains” and “Pretty Penny” are twisted little pop ditties.
“Kitchenware & Candybars” is a long-winding narrative that gives an insight into Scott Weiland’s tortured psyche.
And the hidden track, “My Second Album,” shows that the San Diego rockers had a sense of humor after all.
“Purple” is ranked as the best album made by Stone Temple Pilots by many, and for a good reason.