September 29, 1992: Stone Temple Pilots Core releases on the exact same day as another monster album from the grunge era.
And yes, I’m starting with the comparisons straightaway by design. Because that’s exactly what was happening 30 years ago. 1991 saw grunge break out of Seattle by way of Nirvana‘s Nevermind, Soundgarden‘s Badmotorfinger, and Pearl Jam‘s Ten, among others. A year later, Alice In Chains dropped Dirt and record labels far afield were looking for “the next Seattle.” Soundalike acts were being scooped up, plopped into the studio, and trotted out on the road, all to varying levels of success. Some would throw Stone Temple Pilots into this particular barrel. I would not.
The early critical knock on STP was that they sounded like Pearl Jam. But here’s the thing: they don’t. I chalk that critique up to the “sellout” themes that defined the ’90s era of alternative music. Critics and fans were forever arguing about what it was to sell out and who exactly was selling out. As a surly teen who was energized by the music of the ’90s, I certainly took part in the discourse. It seemed important then. Now? It just seems childish.
Stone Temple Pilots were and are a legitimate, talent-laden rock and roll band. And Core has no business sounding as good as it does when you take into account the fact that it’s the band’s debut album. The DeLeo brothers have written some of the richest and most complex chord voicings and progressions in rock, and they were coming right out of the gate with them on Core. We take “Plush” for granted 30 years on because it’s (arguably) the bands biggest hit, and was their breakthrough in ’92. Listen to it again with me below and rekindle your appreciation for just how vital it is. Those chords, that tone, Weiland’s voice driving it ever forward. It’s a masterful rock song.
Stone Temple Pilots ‘Core’ Turns 30
Did Core get its due in ’92? Not really. Sure, it got a lot of radio spins and MTV play. And it sold a TON of records. But it was too often dismissed. I won’t use the term “underrated.” I’ll instead say it was underappreciated. But I feel that, over the last 30 years, the album’s appreciation and influence has grown and its legitimacy is now undeniable.
Let’s spin through it again, together.