In the world of music it is not uncommon for an album to feel “dated” by the kind of music, social themes, or lyrical content it contains. This is especially prevalent in today’s “throw away” musical landscape where songs are big for a few weeks, but you forget about them shortly after and later cannot believe that you listened to them only a short time after that. However, looking back over the last two decades there are a few rare exceptions to sounding dated. Over the next few posts I will explore some of the albums that, in my opinion, refuse to age.
I gauge my judgment on these albums by a few different criteria:
- Overall listen-ability: Is the entire album worth listening to or just a few tracks?
- Repeat listen-ability: Regardless of how many times you’ve listened to it, do you ever tire of hearing the music and songs?
- Social theme/lyrical content: Are the lyrical/social themes still relevant today?
- Music: Does the music still sound fresh? I.e. if it were released today would it still sound new and have an impact on the soundscape?
So with that I will start this off with a bang!
Artist: Stone Temple Pilots
Release Year: 1992
The debut album by Stone Temple Pilots remains as fresh a listening experience today as the day it was released. Often confused as both being from Seattle (actually from San Diego) and being grunge, the album leans more toward a straightforward rock album than it’s contemporaries.
In my opinion this is one of the strongest debut albums ever and arguably the best since Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction (released just 5 years earlier), and stands the test of time as much as AC/DC’s Back in Black does.
From front to back the album tracks are cohesive and flow well from one to the other. Borrowing from the classic rock of Led Zeppelin, STP employs a constant build throughout the songs on the album (opening with a mid-tempo “Dead and Bloated” and moving on to “Sex Type Thing” easily while increasing the tempo. The band is able to put together a hard charging show of their talent and rock chops, while still displaying a mind towards how their live sets would be composed, they allow some slow burners and even ballad-esqe songs like “Creep” to give a bit of an audio rest between the heavy tracks. Even the two non-traditional song tracks (‘No Memory’ and ‘Wet My Bed’) are listenable and even amusing in the case of the latter.
My personal favorites on the album are ‘Sin’, ‘Naked Sunday’, ‘Piece of Pie’, ‘Plush’, and ‘Where the River Goes’. While almost everybody knows ‘Plush’ and ‘Creep’ from their heavy MTv rotation (yes kids, MTv used to actually show music videos) I find the more unknown tracks just as pleasing.
The social themes of the album have to (as of yet) become dated because they are still things that haven’t changed much over the last 23 years. Religion, Sexual stereotypes and gender relations, as well as kidnappings and isolation/insecurity of being different than what is considered “normal” are all things that will continue to be relevant for some time to come.
The music on the album still sounds fresh. Some rock never ages and I believe it is because, even though it is an ever-evolving form of music, the same elements make the great songs great. If Core were released today, I believe that it would fit into both the contemporary rock radio and hard rock radio just as well.
Listening to this album, it is hard to tire of it. The songs are catchy yet rocking, infinitely sing-able (imagine the looks I get when I belt out Plush with my windows down), and often times if find that the album has played all the way through without realizing it.
As far as I’m concerned this album fits all of the requirements of an album that doesn’t age. Until society as a whole becomes utopian, the lyrical themes will still be relevant and the music will always give you a reason to rock out.