Are you familiar with the expression "Second Album Syndrome"?
The second album syndrome is a situation a band finds itself in after their first album was a dizzying success. A band that received success and fame very quickly, a band that immediately entered the public awareness. The pressure on such a band to create, write, record and release the second album before the "hype" around it fades away is enormous, so there are quite a few bands that do not withstand the pressure and release albums that do not come close to the level of their debut album. In many cases, this syndrome destroys the band completely.
So "Stone Temple Pilots' "Purple" album that we want review today, released on July 7, 1994, refers to a band that despite all the pressure put on, managed the syndrome and released an album no less good than its debut album, and if you catch us in a specific day we will admit its even better.
The band did this while taking a risk, which involved a conscious decision not to repeat the winning recipe from the previous album. While changing and diversifying the musical material that this time included influences of psychedelic, progressive, folk, funk, southern rock, blues and even jazz.
On top of that, Stone did so despite Scott Weiland’s severe addiction problems which greatly affected the creative and recording process.
The result is particularly impressive, given the fact that the pressure on the band here has doubled. On the one hand, it sold well and was very successful in the charts, two criteria that put a stamp on the classic "syndrome". On the other hand, the band received high reviews from critics, from most of whom killed their first album, with titles such as "theft", "copycat", "lack of identity", compared to the bands: Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Nirvana. This double standard was best expressed in a survey conducted by Rolling Stone magazine in 1992, in which on the one hand the audience chose the band as "Best New Band" and on the other hand critics of the same magazine chose it as "Worst New Band".
Now imagine what an inexperienced young band, goes through with all the pressure, criticisms and problems described above, and understand that under the circumstances this album is simply a musical miracle, not only because of its amazing content but because of the fact that the band managed to release it against all odds.
Amazingly Scott was able to channel his addictions into the words, most of which include descriptions of his condition, addiction problems and the peripheral damage they left. While the three remaining friends wrapped them in an amazing compositions that only intensified the tremendous power behind the words.
The album begins with the slow and heavy riff of "Meatplow" and with a sharp statement by the band towards all those who criticized it after the release of the first album. It is no coincidence that the band chose to open the album with this particular song, Scott points the middle finger at those critics who came down on the band with negative reviews to show them, we are here even though you tried to "break us.
"They got these pictures of everything/To break us down, to break me down”.
The album gains momentum with Dean DeLeo's howling guitar and the fade into "Vasoline"'s so monotonous riff. Amazingly, this reef has everything it takes to bother, drive mad and annoy, but it does just the opposite !!! And you find yourself drifting after the two notes repeating themselves repetitively. The percussion work of Eric Kretz who happens to be celebrating his birthday today is simply commendable, it enriches and fills the song in just the right places. We must say a word on Dean DeLeo's short but ingenious solo that completely breaks the monotony of a 4/4 rhythm. A great song that was released as the second single from the album and jumped straight to number one on Billboard. Scott said this song was written about the insects that attach to Vaseline and die slowly in an attempt predestined for failure to break free from it. Wieland told "VH1's Storytellers" that after the release of the debut album he felt like an insect under a magnifying glass.
Birthday boy Eric Kretz continues to transcend himself with amazing drum work and percussion leading the song “Lounge Fly”. A song that opens with Backwards-Effect with Dean DeLeo's howling guitar and is interrupted by the rolling drums, before returning to his basic hard rock. During the transition section this song switches to pure acoustic folk and immediately afterwards comes Paul Leary's slide guitar from the band "Butthole Surfers" hosted here.
The fourth track "Interstate Love Song" introduces us to one of the band's most beautiful melodies and the most successful single from the album. After a short acoustic-intro comes the sweeping entrance with DeLeo's funky riffs. Scott simply transcends himself here with amazing and powerful poetry, which probably stems from the personal story that emerges from the lyrics of the song in which Willand tells of his insincerity in trying to hide his addiction problems.
The next two tracks "Still Remains" and "Pretty Penny" emphasize the musical diversity that is on this album. The first corresponds a bit with a country mixed with southern rock while the second is wrapped in oriental folk that is reminiscent at times of the acoustic sections of "Jethro Tull" that come from the progressive rock in general.
Did we say progressive? So the seventh song "Silvergun Superman" includes transitions reserved for the same genre, yet it is so far away. This is one of our favorite songs on the album. A very dynamic segment that opens with the metallic and slow riff and reaches the climax with DeLeo's amazing solo and bizarre rhythm breaking towards the end.
From here we move on to the first song recorded on the album, or actually not recorded for the album but for the soundtrack of the movie "The Crow" starring Brandon Lee son of Bruce Lee. The band wrote this song specifically for the film's soundtrack, but since they really liked it, they put it on the album as well. The original name of the song was "Only Dying" but after the death of Brandon Lee on the set of the film, the band decided to change its name to "Big Empty". It should be noted that the song was originally played in the band's MTV Unplugged performance that took place even before the soundtrack of the film came out, but the song was not recorded there and was only released on the soundtrack and then on the album.
The song that seals the album "Kitchenware & Candybars" is probably the most melodramatic of all the tracks on the album, and again one of our favorites. The first entry with the dirty and unprocessed distortion excites us time and time again.
What a tremendous and meticulous production that includes strings and orchestral effects that add to the uniqueness of the song. The song also includes a "Crazy" Hidden Track called "My Second Album", a jazzy part whose combination of madness and genius is reserved only for virtuous individuals like Mike Patton. This is actually the twelfth track of the album that includes a guest appearance by Richard Peterson on vocals. This section provides an explanation of the image on the back cover of the album, which features a cake with the phrase “12 Gracious Melodies”.