monday music fix:

This entry is inspired in part by NoBenta's recent entry, Sa Wakas, STP.

Stone Temple Pilot's Plush is a remarkably, distinguishably '90s tune. Ask anyone who was a teen in the 1990s about the most memorable songs from that era, Plush is likely to be in their list.

I first heard the heavily-rocking, post-grunge song thanks to a classmate of mine, way before it hit the local airwaves. If I remember correctly, it was 1993; last day of First Quarter exams.

The said classmate's name was Dawn. She and I weren't exactly close, but she needed company and I needed a place to hang out in until 4pm, so she invited me to stay at her house for a few hours. I thought that it wouldn't be a bad idea to be friends with that girl, especially when I saw she lived in a massive modern mansion decked with expensive-looking things. She let me invade her room while she excused herself to wash the stressful school day from her system. She put a disc into her impressive-looking CD player to keep me company while she was out. The aggressive sound boomed from the speakers that were set up in such a way that made her room feel like a rock concert.

I didn't yet recognize the songs that played, but I immediately liked the sound - the instrumentation had elements of grunge, but had a heavier but more polished quality; the vocalist sounded like Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, only his voice wasn't as deep and he pronounced his words clearer. I wondered who the band was. They weren't yet known in the country, and I felt privileged to be among the first to sample them.

I figured my new friend Dawn must have purchased this cool, new CD from a trip to the 'Sates during the summer. Stone Temple Pilots. New. Sounded mean enough. The album art, save for the text, was in a reddish monochrome, all mysterious-looking but not quite interesting.

I inspected the rest of the swell stuff cluttering her room. I was jolted in guilt when I suddenly heard a man's voice pipe out from behind me, "I am ... smelling like the rose That somebody gave me on my birthday deathbed." Good grief. I quite felt like a thief caught red-handed until I realized it was the CD.

We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing about and chatting about high school-level quasi-intellectual philosophy in front of a humongous television turned to MTV. How cool were we? So '90s teen. I thought about making her my new buddy and possibly coming back to her house to hang out. But neither of that happened, since we both already had our own preferred circle of pals. We did stay friends though - we were in the same class after all - but there wasn't much hanging out after that.

A while after I first heard the Stone Temple Pilots, Plush made it to mainstream radio. I immediately recognized it as something I heard at Dawn's house (I felt so proud of myself for knowing my rock music; I was so awesome). In those days, Campus Radio 97.1 LSFM was the cool mainstream station to tune in to. They had a top 20 at noon, and Plush made it into the countdown daily for a period of time. It never made it to the number one spot, but it was often requested and well-overplayed.

The single rapidly gained popularity, particularly among teens. We would try to sing along, making up the hardly intelligible lyrics. Those who played the guitar learned to play that song; many didn't make it past the intro, but the intro itself was recognizable enough to add coolness points. It was one of the top hits covered by amateur rock bands.

There was something about STP that appealed to the GenX-ers. Rockers and posers likely named the band as one of the artists they would love to see live. The Stone Temple Pilots (if they weren't unplugged) were able to generate an angry mosh pit full of sweaty, topless, tatooed guys; those who went to see their concert would come home with scars, black eyes and missing articles of clothing. It would have been a mad rush - but STP was the sort of band that was too big to come by Manila.

Another memory I have about Plush was that it was played at our high school dance. It's not the kind of song you could dance to, but the idiotic DJ put it on anyway. A not-unattractive college boy started to dance with me earlier that night and introduced himself. When Plush came on, things became weird because we couldn't move to it. We both just stood there swaying while the people around us were head-banging (I mean, what else could we do, right?). He tried to sing along while I nervously thought of a way to exit. To attempt a save, he started what turned out to be an overly awkward conversation - he asked for my number but I didn't have one, so he asked for my address. Huh? The music was really loud and it was useless to keep chatting, so we just moved away from each other and looked for the friends we came with.

The other singles from the Core album weren't as popular in the mainstream, but they were topnotch - among rock-lovers anyway. Dead and Bloated. Creep. My personal favorite for both music and lyrics was Wicked Garden.

Core was followed by Purple in 1994, with Vasoline, Interstate Love Song, et al. I loved the phrase "Conversations kill" from Big Empty; I thought it was just profound. Purple wasn't as loud as their first album, but it was still pretty good.

Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop was released in 1996. Lady Picture Show, Big Bang Baby, Trippin On A Hole (With A Paper Heart).

Composer and frontman Scott Weiland had a creative slump accompanied by a heroin addiction, various misdemeanors and arrests. The band's a decrease in popularity was later punctuated by a breakup. Weiland went on to try recording as a solo artist, and despite his haunting rendition of Ave Maria, he didn't get very far. In 1999, the band regrouped and produced the fiasco called No. 4; two years later came Shangri-La Dee Da. I suppose STP attempted to evolve along with the evolving music trends, but their later works were eclipsed by the success of their early albums.

Early 2000's, Weiland got together with GnR's Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum to form the band Velvet Revolver (it was Guns n Roses with Weiland instead of Axl Rose [who I believe was in rehab at the time], and with a hard-rock sound veering away from what they used to be known for). I.m.h.o., they're pretty good. A1.

The Stone Temple Pilots, to the delight of fans who kept them in their playlists since the early 1990's, are finally coming to Manila for a concert this month. Wow. It would certainly be great to see them live, and I probably would ... if I were teenager and if it were still the '90s. I feel too old for that sort of thing, but that's not the only reason why I'm not so excited over it. I guess I just grew out of it. Besides, now that they're has-beens, I kind of think we should be insulted that they grace us at a time when they're trying to revive their careers, possibly a stab at making money to finance their substance addictions. I've learned that mosh pits are no longer fashionable in rock concerts so I doubt there will be one - but who knows, right? Thirtysomething and fortysomething males might just want to relive their younger years that way - I mean, if they can get away from work responsibilities and daddy responsibilities, and if they aren't too proud to look like a testosterone-laden teenager.
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