Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Sour Review For A Sour Single

The Good: One amazing track, A decent reinterpretation of that amazing song
The Bad: One mediocre track, SHORT!
The Basics: A great, though very short disc becomes the only Stone Temple Pilots I've yet made an effort to own. And I love it!

Nothing quite tests the reviewer like reviewing a c.d. single. Yet, I find myself with a strange desire to review the Stone Temple Pilots' c.d. single "Sour Girl." This is a three-track disc and two of the tracks are essentially the same and it clocks out at twelve and a half minutes.

"Sour Girl" was a moderate success for the band Stone Temple Pilots in 2000 when the track was playing on the radio. The single opens with the album (and radio) version of "Sour Girl." Lead singer Scott Weiland wrote and sings the track (actually, both tracks on this disc).

"Sour Girl" is a mellow rock ballad that charts the end of a relationship from the perspective of a man who has been left by a very bitter young woman. Weiland's baritone gently and mellowly describes, "She turned away, what was she looking at? / She was a sour girl the day that she met me / . . . She was a happy girl the day that she left me." This is a tremendous and melodic breakup song that is backed by the band for the refrain of "What would you do / What would you do if I followed you?" The song charts the man's joy over meeting the woman and her indifference toward him, despite his best efforts. It's a wrenching and witty song.

This version is marked by the presence of direct, up front bass and guitars. The drums are strong and accent the strummings of the electric guitars to accent certain lines. It's a perfectly arranged, wonderfully written and sung song and it's a shame it never went as high on the charts as it deserved to go (this was around the time Red Hot Chili Peppers were burning up the charts with "Californication").

The live version of "Sour Girl," which closes the album, is notable for accenting the lyrics by removing the electric guitars and replacing them with acoustic ones. The drums are replaced by simply knocking the guitar after each strum. This creates a very stark, lonely sound that perfectly expresses the lyrics and intent of the song. It is a wonderful supplementation to the original version and a legitimate and worthy reinterpretation of the rock song.

In between the two tracks is a live song called "Sex & Violence." The song is an up front rock track with heavy guitars and banging drums that embody exactly what one expects from rock and roll music. The vocals are somewhat garbled through the refrain as Weiland sings about the effects of sex and violence on a relationship. The reason this song works even remotely well with "Sour Girl" is the setup for the song. It is telling essentially the same story as "Sour Girl" when the narrator declares, ". . . And now I turn around, you're everywhere / You chew me up and spit me out / You're just a little bitch I care about . . ."

The track ends with the audience cheering and Weiland noting that they might have to release the track in the future. That seems silly, but it does capture the "live" aspect of it. It's not a bad track, but sandwiched in between two great versions of an amazing song, this just seems somehow underwhelming. It has the feel of "we're a rock band and you expect us to rock, so here's a rock and roll track for you fans!" "Sour Girl" is softer than much of Stone Temple Pilots's standard works.

All in all, though, "Sour Girl" has three songs. It's straightforward rock and roll and the title track - both versions - are amazing. It's a well written, well produced song that illustrates there are still some genuinely creative talents working in the field these days. The serious drawbacks, of course, are that this disc is hard to track down and it only has the three tracks. That said, I went through the effort of finding it and have never once regretted the purchase.

For other singles, check out my reviews of:
“Stand By Me” - Oasis
“Jackie’s Strength” – Tori Amos
“Across The Universe” – Fiona Apple


For other music reviews, please visit my Music Review Index Page where albums and singles are organized from best to worst!

© 2013, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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