During their hey-day, Stone Temple Pilots were (perhaps unfairly) criticized for being too corporate, too derivative and too cliche when measured up against their peers like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. You could make the argument that Stone Temple Pilots, in a way, are responsible for what I like to call “grunge-lite” or “pseudo-grunge” bands that followed in their wake, like Live, Candlebox and later on, Nickelback.
In the years since, Pearl Jam and Nirvana (and to a lesser extent Soundgarden) have achieved a sense of respectability that has moved them beyond the ’90s. Stone Temple Pilots, meanwhile, have been regulated to ’90s nostalgia in the minds of listeners and their songs are frequent staples on ’90s oriented channels on Satellite Radio.
But here’s the thing: even while they were clearly a product of their time, their singles are strong and actually hold up pretty well. Their 1992 hit, “Plush” is a good example of this. A mid-tempo number with a big, muscular riff, “Plush” is a direct descent of ’70s hard-rock with no apologies with a sing-along chorus. Who doesn’t sing, “And I feeeeeel, and I feel, when the dogs begin to smell heeerr…” (ridiculous as it is) at the top of their lungs along with Scott Weiland?
Producer Brendan O’Brien is key to the song’s sound and appeal. O’Brien’s production gives the song a lift that makes “Plush” sound contemporary yet familiar. Each member of the band is given a crystal-clear sheen that emphasizes the individual parts. Dean DeLeo’s guitar, is never noisy or distorted. The space between the signature chords gives drummer Eric Ketz plenty of space to provide a wallop that is rock-solid. The whole thing is perfectly constructed for mass appeal. It’s no wonder that the popular acoustic version of “Plush” was included on the group’s greatest hits collection, Thank You.