Pilot's Solo Flight a Success

Scott Weiland - 12 Bar Blues
(Atlantic Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)

By Tony Bonyata

Just as the Stone Temple Pilots were shaking the nagging comparisons to fellow Seattlelite grunge rockers Pearl Jam and Nirvana with their defining album Tiny Music (Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop) lead vocalist Scott Weiland went and took the all too familiar, for rock stars at least, downward drug-laced spiral. While Weiland was cleaning himself up in rehab, fellow Stone Temple Pilot members hired a new, although temporary, lead singer and continued to produce a lucrative sound under the moniker Talk Show.
Weiland, now supposedly cleansed of the big H, has released his own album outside of the Pilots entitled 12 Bar Blues, a collection of disjointed songs in which he bears not only his soul but seems to exorcise some of the personal demons that have been tormenting him throughout the past few years.
Brushing the grungier sound of the Pilots off the seat of his pants, Weiland instead wears the influences of the Beatles, David Bowie and, whether intentional or not, Cheap Trick on his sleeve for the whole world to hear. Uneven and unpredictable 12 Bar Blues is at the same time appealing in it's unexpected nature. Like John Lennon on his soul-bearing debut solo album, Weiland screams out in primal scream therapy fashion, "I Love You" over and over to an ex-lover who never shows up on the desperate song "The Date". "Son" is a gentle ballad that finds Weiland searching for a purer world than his own through the love of his child. On the Bertolt Brechtian inspired "Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down" Weiland's Beatles-like psychedelic circus swirls as popstress Sheryl Crow adds a surreal accordion to the carnival-esque mix.
The album is heavy with the canned rhythm of a beat box which Weiland plays himself and ends up sounding like Gary Numan on the cold, synth-heavy "Desperation # 5". On "Barbarella", the first single from the album, he can't conceal his affection for Bowie circa-Hunky Dory on this infectious space-age ode to love.
Weiland further distances himself from his former band on the industrial, yet strangely organic numbers, "About Nothing", "Cool Kiss" and "Jimmy Was A Stimulator" as well as the by-the-book pop of "Mockingbird Girl" and "Opposite Octave Reaction", a song which could make Mid-western pop heroes Cheap Trick beam with pride.
While not what most expected from this son-of-a-grunge, Weiland's first solo flight from the Stone Temple Pilots is, nonetheless, a refreshing success.

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