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Every Stone Temple Pilots album ranked worst to best

STP
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Formed in 1989, Stone Temple Pilots's debut album Core arrived in 1992, and perfectly evoked the previous year's grunge zeitgeist, causing smart-arse critics to cruelly label the San Diego quartet 'Stone Temple Plagiarists'. The criticism stung, with guitarist Robert DeLeo telling the L.A. Times in 1994 “The last thing I wanted to do with this band was make everybody believe we invented something.”

They may not have invented anything but the songs hit big, particularly in America, and with 1994’s Purple and particularly 1996’s glam rock-influenced Tiny Music … Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, STP would go on to demonstrate that they absolutely had their own voice.

Frontman Scott Weiland’s death at the age of just 48 was devastating, and though the Pilots (perhaps ill-advisedly) opted to continue, recruiting vocalist Jeff Gutt, it’s for those early albums for which they will be best remembered.

Here is their eight-album discography, ranked from worst to best.

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8. Stone Temple Pilots (2018)

STP 2018

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After the 2015 death of Scott Weiland, the remaining members of Stone Temple Pilots re-grouped, starting the process of seeking out a new frontman just two months after his passing. It’s hard to imagine that anyone outside their immediate circle is overly excited that they bothered.

Few rock records sound quite so limp as Stone Temple Pilots’ second self-titled album. Middle of Nowhere sounds middle of the road, Thought She’d Be Mine is just lame and the less said about The Art of Letting Go, a ballad that even Bon Jovi would balk at, the better. New man Jeff Gutt gamely does his best Scott Weiland impression, but simply doesn’t possess any of his predecessor’s style or panache.

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7. Perdida (2020)

STP - Perdida

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Billed as “an acoustic record largely recorded on vintage instruments”, Perdida did nothing to revive the fortunes of an ailing Stone Temple Pilots in the 21st century. It's a dull, lifeless collection of songs, and no amount of tasteful cello, viola, sax or flute accompaniment can disguise that.

Perdida onlu narrowly misses out on the dubious honour of being the worst Stone Temple Pilots album in acknowledgement of the DeLeo brothers taking a slightly different direction rather than simply re-treading old ground, but even they must surely be aware that neither post-Weiland album gets within touching distance of STP at their peak.

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6. Stone Temple Pilots (2010)

STP 2010

(Image credit: Atlantic)

The Deleo brothers demanded they produce their sixth album themselves, a decision that Atlantic Records were against and presumably came to regret when designs to create a retro/vintage feel resulted in an album sounding merely weak. Recorded in three studios, sessions took 10 months due to the band’s touring commitments, and and by the end of it, all STP had to show for it was the first of a succession of albums that would begin to tarnish their legacy.

Anglophile Weiland’s vocal performance on Hickory Dichotomy is just embarrassing, the singer affecting a Damon Albarn-style snarl that is completely ill-suited to him, and the BritPop influence continues on Cinnamon, but comes off more Dodgy than Oasis. With its nods to Nirvana, there’s a bit of life in lead single Between The Lines but it’s not enough to salvage a mediocre set.

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 5. Shangri-La Dee Da (2001)

STP

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There’s enough substance on Shangri-La Dee Da to prevent it from being a disaster, but thank heavens the band didn’t plough ahead with their original plan to write a double album. As intriguing as a record dedicated to the memory of Mother Love Bone vocalist Andrew Wood sounds, barely half the material on Shangri-La Dee Da live up to previous STP standards. 

While Dumb Love and Coma have bite, elsewhere WonderfulHello It’s Late and Bi-Polar Bear fall short. Whilst worse was to come, it’s no big surprise that Stone Temple Pilots decided to disband after touring duties for this album were complete.

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4. No. 4 (1999)

STP 4

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Appropriately placed, No.4 was the last great STP record. A focus on riffs and the back to basics approach that had made debut Core so instantaneous resulted in the heaviest STP album to date. Songs like No Way Out, Heaven & Hot Rods, and the Grammy-nominated Down showcased a band operating at full force, while Atlanta is one of the most beautiful songs the Pilots ever recorded.

The album promotion suffered due to Scott Weiland receiving a one-year jail sentence shortly before its release, but it exists as an oft-forgotten gem.

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3. Core (1992)

STP - Core

(Image credit: Atlantic)

The biggest selling album of the band’s career, Core boasts many of the hits casual fans will know and love, specifically the singles Sex Type Thing, Creep and Plush

Critics accused the band of plagiarism, particularly of grunge heavyweights Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, and while it’s true that STP hadn’t entirely settled into their own sound here, the er, core material was simply too good for to deny.

The album would peak at number 3 on the Billboard 200, emboldening the quartet to go on to do braver, bolder things with their next two records.

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2. Tiny Music … Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop (1996)

STP - Tiny Music

(Image credit: Atlantic )

Recorded in a 25,000-square-foot mansion north of Santa Barbara, Tiny Music… is where STP got really experimental, and consequently, it’s the album that is most identifiably them. It’s also the single strongest argument to the naysayers who suggested that the group were mere grunge copyists. 

There's a real playfulness to the likes of Big Bang Baby and the irresistible Art School Girl, while Pop’s Love Suicide marries Exile-era Stones with the psychedelia of The Beatles. Elsewhere, Weiland's love of Bowie shines, and it was here that he began to develop the cavalier persona that would be introduced to an even bigger fanbase when he teamed up with former Guns N'Roses alumni Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum in Velvet Revolver.

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1. Purple (1994)

STP - Purple

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STP’s second album was a defiant middle finger to the critics who had dismissed them as mere Pearl Jam / Alice in Chains copyists. With Purple the Pilots found their own voice, by taking the formula of Core and mixing it with elements of psychedelia (Lounge Fly), country (Interstate Love Song) and blues (Big Empty). They borrowed heavily from the 60s, as did their peers, but managed to put a spin on it that felt uniquely their own.

Recorded just prior to Kurt Cobain’s death, Purple was released into a world much different from the one where it was written. The grunge movement was beginning to wane and for better or worse, the album marked a changing of the guard with STP at the head of this new movement. This may have given the critics even more reasons to raise their pitchforks, but the songs - Meatplow, Vasoline, as well as the aforementioned Lounge Fly and Interstate Love Song, were undeniable.

The greatest album that Scott Weiland has ever been on, Purple should be regarded with the same reverence that we reserve for Ten, Dirt, Badmotorfinger and Siamese Dream

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