I got on a Stone Temple Pilots kick recently because I got excited when I saw they were playing in nearby Birmingham. Then I remembered Scott Weiland has been replaced by Linkin Park's Chester Bennington. I can't tell you how much I don't want to hear someone else sing Weiland's vocal lines other than to say I didn't buy tickets. He already channels and mimics so many other singers. Having someone imitate his imitations seems pointless. Besides, I don't really like Bennington's voice or Linkin Park's music.
All the talk of STP did get me to go back to the records and that led to my definitive list of their five best songs. I like many more but I'm comfortable standing on this list. I will not be surprised to be taken to task by some of you for omissions more than what I've included. I also expect a few angry LP/Bennington defends will have pointed comments for me. Bring it on, dear readers, and have your say. What would your list look like?
- Big Bang Baby: Scott Weiland has the highly unusual ability to alter and adjust his voice to sound like every singer you've heard. He summons a bit of John Lennon on this fuzzed tune that plays a bit like Bowie with a winning power pop chorus. It's a big, sloppy mess that most people didn't know what to do with at the time. It's also the song that won me over, having largely passed on Core and Purple.
- Interstate Love Song: I came around on this one after "Big Bang Baby" one me over. I think of this as STP goes country. No, it's not classic country but the title feels like a country tune and so does the opening electric guitar figure playing above the strummed acoustic.
- Down: This is another great example of Weiland as vocal chameleon, alternating between seductive-yet-creepy in the verse before channeling his inner Chino Moreno (Deftones) and howling like a man possessed, all of this happening over a bludgeoning riff.
- Sour Girl: This is their best pop ballad and no one is more surprised than me that I have two songs from the horribly uneven No. 4, far from their best work. The hook and harmonies in the chorus are what sets this apart and
- Wicked Garden: This is my favorite of the big rock songs from their canon. I know "Plush" was a bigger hit and I like songs like "Dead and Bloated" but this one has such an air of cool about it. The churning, chiming riff sounds like wind blowing your hair. The drumming is more active than I typically like but I love the way it works when deployed here.