It wouldn't be proper for me to make this list and NOT include the first record I ever bought on my own. It was the first time I decided to use whatever allowance I was getting back in 1994 was deserved of a record. Being 11 years old, I guess this was kind of big. What would I buy first? Would it be The Offspring's Smash? Not yet. Would it be Weezer? That was second. Would it be Soundgarden's seminole Superunknown? Wrong grunge band. No, first was my old favorite band of all times sophomore anti-slump. Stone Temple Pilots' Purple. The album is beyond what I knew then what grunge was and still kind of stands above the rest of what grunge really is. It's not quite Alice in Chains or Nirvana or Soundgarden or even Pearl Jam. Some songs sound like these bands. But there is another layer to the album cuts that stood out to me and that was the bands classic/glam rock leanings on certain tracks. As a young kid, my favorite song was "Interstate Love Song" and if anything, this track reminded me of bands that my parents listened to growing up and allowed me to move out on my own and figure out what music I liked that wasn't my parents. I know I mentioned this with Beck and Odelay, but that was simultaneous to this one for the most part. But Odelay wasn't until 1996 making Purple the first album I ever owned. I still have the original CD and the cover art is on a sweet collage of CD covers I made.
As far as being a young buck liking bands, I was like any young kid and I listened to a lot of alt rock radio. WDRE and Y100 were my youth. These stations played everything from the dance music that was more popular on the Top 40 to bands like the Lemonheads or STP. It was kind of what I imagined old AM radio being only a little less off the charts amazing. There was plenty of random bands like Veruca Salt and Dishwalla to tread through (although I loved both of those band's respective hits.) To show you the sheer gravity of 1994 and it's immense amunt of amazing albums and tracks, here is a quicky list:
Beck - Loser - Mellow Gold
Beastie Boys - Sabatoge - Ill Communication
Green Day - Dookie - Longview
Weezer - Buddy Holly
Soundgarden - Superunknown - Black Hole Sun
The Cranberries - No Need to Argue - Zombie
Snoop Dog - What's My Name? - Doggystyle
En Vouge W/ Salt N Peppa - Whatta Man - Runaway Love
Nas - N.Y. State of Mind - Illimatic
Gin Blossoms - Found Out About You - New Miserable Experience
Nine Inch Nails - Closer - The Downward Spiral
That's just a smattering of awesomeness. But for me, it didn't get any better than Purple.
I can't really say why this was the one that had to be first. But I'm ever glad it was. To make things clear, I feel like STP has never gotten the kudos they deserve. This album did go 6x Platinum which I guess is kudos enough, but how come no one gives them props, yet everyone talks about PJ and Nirvana? I could put Purple song for song against any album by other grunge bands and these songs hold up better and have just as much amazing rock fervor as any. The A.V. Club over at The Onion wrote an amazing blog about how STP gets the shaft and now, with their current US Tour and maybe, God Willing, a new album and maybe a rehashing of the greatness that this band actually has in their catalog.
Take a song like "Silvergun Superman." It's an epic song that sprawls and reels with rock excess yet brilliant songwriting and musicianship that never ceases to amaze. It wasn't a radio hit, but it's a track that is just as good as "Interstate Love Song" or "Vasoline." The real masterpiece of the album was a big hit and that is "Big Empty." One of the bluesiest songs of the 90's, it's an amazing track in all it's aspects. It's even more cream inducing live, which thanks to this reunion tour I was lucky enough to see. "Meatplow" is an amazing first track and sets the tone for the rest of the record. Although this album doesn't have some of the jazzier songs that made the rest of the STP's future albums have a bit more depth, it still had a much bluesier influenced greatness to hold it's own and define the major sound of STP. That of a rock band that had a blues core buried under the intense drumming, fast paced and fuzzy guitars and funky bass lines.
Not many bands that I loved as a youngster have stayed with me this 14 years latter. One thing is for shit sure though. The first record I ever loved is still one of my all time favorite records. It's also one of the most important records on this list as it defined myself as an independent music lover (not indie but one who decides for himself what music rulez.) Rather than angsty grunge, STP was bluesy grunge. It was Grunge with deep seeded roots in the greatness of the delta blues but turned up to 11. The song "Kitchen Wares and Candy Bars" is a perfect example of this hence the selection of this track for the video portion here. I still like to think I was an awesome 11 year old for choosing Purple as the first album worth my hard earned lawn mowing money.
Oh and side note... doesn't the bass player look like Justin Theroux??
1. The Who - Tommy
2. Beck - Odelay
3. Television - Marquee Moon
4. Weezer - Pinkerton
5. Brian Eno - Before & After Science
6. Wilco - A Ghost is Born
7. The Beatles - Rubber Soul
8. Grand Funk Railroad - Closer to Home
9. Foo Fighters - The Colour & The Shape
10. Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection
11. Interpol - Turn On the Bright Lights
12. King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King
13. Jeff Buckley - Grace
14. Warren Zevon
15. Black Mountain - In The Future
16. XTC - Skylarking
17. Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
18. Nick Drake - Pink Moon
19. Stone Temple Pilots - Purple
Up Next: The Clash's London Calling