Stone Temple Pilots – Purple: #371 of best 1,000 albums ever!

So why is Stone Temple Pilots’ Purple on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

Purple was released on May 31st, 1994, less than two months after Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain took his own life.

It’s hard to believe that that was nearly three decades now as of this writing, and it’s important to think about the context of this time period. That’s to say that the music world and a generation of music fans (these would be my good old – and getting ever older these days – Gen X peers) were mourning the loss of icon, and it’s also an era when there were a huge glut of bands chasing the dominance of alternative rock and so called “grunge” music on mainstream rock radio and MTV.

Which meant that for Stone Temple Pilots, a band that was more popular than “respected” in its day, the timing of Purple’s release probably couldn’t have been much worse.

I hadn’t given STP very much thought in the long years between the mid-’90s and the beginnings of this here best 1,000 albums ever project in 2020, but every time I revisited the band and its best albums, my estimation of them as artists grew. Stone Temple Pilots consistently produced great music that captured the darkness and authenticity and energy of grunge and also layered in outstanding songwriting, strong melodies, and an accessible feel.

For different reasons, I had a similar process of continually being surprised and delighted by fellow “grunge” band Alice in Chains, and it’s been one of the great joys of this project to have that experience of seeing my relationship to music change over time.

My favorite song on Purple is a relative deep cut called “Pretty Penny.” It’s a quirky acoustic number that has a little bit of a Beatles-inspired lilt to it, and it captures the emotion and world weariness and beauty and vulnerability of Scott Weiland’s voice perfectly.

It’s probably not all that shocking then that I’m also really enamored of “Big Empty,” which is quiet, contemplative, and acoustic bluesy in its first half before ramping up to classic STP mid-tempo mode.

“Vasoline” kicks off with a classic hard rock riff which deserves mention alone, and also boasts one of the band’s best ever choruses.

I was a little bit surprised to see that “Interstate Love Song” is the most played Stone Temple Pilots song on Spotify as of this writing, with 336+ million plays. It’s a fine song, but not one of my favorites – and kind of seems a little too similar-ish to the second half of “Big Empty,” the more I think about it. For my money, give me a deep cut like “Army Ants,” which ramps up the tempo and finds the band in rocking energetic form. Most importantly, it’s got a really sweet and catchy hook.

Some stats & info about Stone Temple Pilots – Purple

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Hard Rock, Alternative Rock, Grunge, SoCal Bands
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
  • When was Purple released? 1994
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #371 out of 1,000

Stone Temple Pilots’ Purple on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from Stone Temple Pilots’ Purple that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

Too much walking, shoes worn thin. Too much trippin’ and my soul’s worn thin.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.