Atlantic Records, 1992
REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/25/2000
It's somewhat difficult to fully explore Core without looking at the history that has followed. Back in 1992, the debut of this SoCal quartet was met with critical acclaim and success. Thanks to their two hits, "Plush" and "Creep," the production efforts of Brendan O'Brian and solid word-of-mouth, the Pilots were thrust into the echelon of alternative's new stars -- right alonside Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. The future seemed bright for vocalist Scott Weiland, bassist Robert DeLeo, guitarist Dean DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz.
As we all know, things didn't pan out as fully as one may have hoped. Due to Scott Weiland's recurring drug abuse and drug-related problems, the band has been forced to stop, start and re-start throughout the 90s. They even tried a new vocalist and changed their name to Talk Show, but that went as well as Scott Weiland's solo effort. Currently, they're back together and promoting their latest effort, No. 4. Still one cannot deny their abilities nor the strength of their debut.
The album kicks off with the hard, yet catchy, "Dead & Bloated." It's a proper intro to the album, mixing in the hard rhythm set by Kretz and Robert DeLeo with the guitar licks of Dean DeLeo and, on top of everything, the vocal delivery of Weiland. From here you have the controversial hit, "Sex Type Thing." A very strong song with a driving rhythm, it speaks of the mind of a rapist - but not celebrating it, as many detractors would have you believe.
The Pilots carefully construct some of the best social commentary since early U2. Listen to songs like "Wicked Garden," "Naked Sunday" and "Wet My Bed." "Naked Sunday" speaks of how God is used for the creation of war, while "Wicked Garden" employs imagery from the classic short story "The Secret Garden" to speak of depression and breaking out of it. Granted, it's not on the level Rage Against the Machine plow through, but it's something.
Amazingly, along with their rough and hard edges, the band also manages to create some very melodic songs. "No Mercy" is otherwordly and weird. The hit, "Plush" is very abstract and has some great melodies. The album-closing, "Where The River Goes" seems to be the band's epic song. It goes through nearly eight minutes shifting and swinging from its hard edges to greater melody.
Still, the bad does have some strong rock in here. "Crackerman" is a very hard song about Chef's favorite crackers (oops, sorry, wrong show). It nevertheless is very cool. "Creep" mid-tempoes through a song about creeping in life. Of course, it became famous for the line "I'm half the man I used to be" when Lorena Bobbit did her thang. (OUCH!) Finally, "Sin" speaks about the power of vice. In retrospect it's very prophetic about Scott Weiland's own problems with powerful vices.
So, what has happened to this once-promising band? Well, like I said above, they're still out there, still promoting their work. It's a shame that their own problems have prevented them from reaching the levels of success that they seemed destined to reach. Of course, if you take a look, it seems all of alternative's gods have dissapeared. Pearl Jam is still out there, like STP. However, Soundgarden has broken-up and Alice In Chains seems to have gone that way. As for Nirvana, well, we all know what happened there.
For the kids that grew up alongside me at the start of the '90s, Core is one of the albums we most remember. I couldn't put it down when I first got it. Close to a decade after its release, it still holds up as a snapshot of a good band that seemed poised to break through and become great. It didn't. And, while one hopes that Stone Temple Pilots may reach higher levels, their hardest album still remains this one.