Almost Acoustic Christmas is an annual concert run by the Los Angeles radio station KROQ-FM.
December 5, 1997 – The first day of the two-day KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas Concert in L.A. December 5 will be graced by the added presence of Scott Weiland on his second live solo outing, as well as Rancid. The two were called in to augment the bill after both the Verve and Jamiroquai were forced to pull out.
The “L.A. Times” reports that Jamiroquai singer Jason Kay has been suffering from exhaustion and opted to return home to England. The Verve pulled out last week after a death in one of the bandmembers’ families.
The annual concert is taking place at the Universal Amphitheater December 5 and 6. The first night will also feature Fiona Apple, Chumbawamba, Jane’s Addiction, Matchbox 20, Sarah McLachlan, Smash Mouth and the Sneaker Pimps. Tomorrow sees David Bowie, the Aquabats, Everclear, Green Day, Live, Portishead, Save Ferris, Sugar Ray, 311, and Third Eye Blind.
12 Bar Blues is the debut solo album from Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland. Its sound and style differ greatly from STP’s previous releases. The design concept of the cover is a homage to the cover design of John Coltrane’s Blue Train album. The title name comes from the simple chord progression known as “twelve-bar blues.”
Released in 1998 on Atlantic Records, the album was not a commercial success, but achieved some critical acclaim. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic gave the album 4 out of 5 stars, declaring “12 Bar Blues is an unpredictable, carnivalesque record confirming that Weiland was the visionary behind STP’s sound. He’s fascinated by sound, piling on layers of shredded guitars, drum loops, and keyboards, making sure that each song sounds drastically different from its predecessor.” David Fricke of Rolling Stone awarded the album 3.5 out of 5 stars and declared that “12 Bar Blues isn’t really a rock album, or even a pop album. Weiland, out on his own, has simply made an honest album – honest in its confusion, ambition and indulgence. It was worth the risk.” but also remarked that “Maybe it’s a little early for Scott Weiland to be going the solo way.” Pitchfork Media stated upon its release that “12 Bar Blues is easily the most innovative album Weiland has ever produced for public consumption,” while Entertainmnt Weekly wrote that “the LP’s sheer invention and hooks will make your indulgence worthwhile.”
All Songs Written By Scott Weiland (Co-Writers in parenthesis).
- “Desperation #5” – 4:05
- “Barbarella” – 6:36 (Tony Castaneda)
- “About Nothing” – 4:48 (Castaneda)
- “Where’s the Man” – 4:55
- “Divider” – 4:23 (Victor Indrizzo; Famous Music Corp.)
- “Cool Kiss” – 4:55
- “The Date” – 5:21
- “Son” – 5:04 (Indrizzo; Famous Music Corp.) (dedicated to “Zack”)
- “Jimmy Was a Stimulator” – 3:58
- “Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down” – 5:26 (Indrizzo; Famous Music Corp.)
- “Mockingbird Girl” – 5:02 (Jeff Nolan, Zander Schloss; UA Music Inc., Floated Music, EMI Virgin Music; “Its The Mega”, United Lion Music, Sho Me Mo)
- “Opposite Octave Reaction” – 4:18
- An additional track entitled “Lazy Divey” was recorded for the album, and was included on some early promotional copies of the album.
- “Mockingbird Girl” was a re-recording of a song Weiland had originally recorded with The Magnificent Bastards for the 1995 Tank Girl soundtrack three years prior.
The first solo album from the late Scott Weiland marked the public return of the troubled former Stone Temple Pilots vocalist, whose penchant for chaos and self-destruction had forced STP into an indefinite hiatus the year before. While the music is thoroughly glam and carnivalesque, the album also continues on where STP’s 1996 full-length, Tiny Music… Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop, left off. Basically, Weiland was free to get fairly weird and wacky on both albums.
Luckily, allowing Weiland to do his “thing” often produced worthwhile results. For as disjointed and random as the ideas might seem on 12 Bar Blues, it’s clear there’s an awful lot happening – even just within in the space of a single song. Whirling piano passages, oversaturated noise guitar and the transistor hum of vintage synths all find a home on 12 Bar Blues – an album fueled by fearless experimentation. The progression through the album’s eclectic ideas, the lush layering and the interaction between the broad palette of sounds showcase a keener vision than what Weiland had previously been credited.
In fact, it’s almost mind-boggling to hear how fluidly and competently Weiland moves from one totally different sonic vibe to the next. One moment, he’s building dramatic tension with the acoustic ballad, “Where’s The Man” (which intensifies with progressively loudening drums and guitars), the next moment, an eerie piano solo opens “Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down” – a quirky waltz with accompanying strings that sound equal parts Johann Strauss and the Beatles’ White Album.
Elsewhere, “Divider” has the Latin ballroom intrigue of a James Bond score while the verses of “Opposite Octave Reaction” could easily pass for something Prince might’ve written. Weiland’s use of electronica is also quite noteworthy, rooting much of the recordings in a barrage of drum loops and distorted, solid-state crackle before much of the rest of the rock world embraced EDM elements.
Equally impressive is the lengthy list of contributors to the recording, which includes Sheryl Crow (accordion on “Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down”) Daniel Lanois (synths on “Desperation #5” and guitar on “Barbarella”) and jazz pianist Brad Mehldau, whose nimble fingers dance across the keys on “Divider” and “Mockingbird Girl.” Weiland also got into the spirit of musicianship himself, contributing guitar, keyboards, piano, bass, synth bass, beat boxing and drum loops in addition to his myriad vocal tracks.
And while much of 12 Bar Blues was too abstract to ever find a home on mainstream radio in the ’90s, there are a few songs where commercial appeal wasn’t entirely thrown out the window. On “Barbarella,” melodic verses crash into stunning choruses and “Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down” appeared on the soundtrack to 1998’s Great Expectations. There’s also a re-recorded version of “Mockingbird Girl” (originally recorded by Weiland’s side project the Magnificent Bastards for the soundtrack to 1995’s Tank Girl), which is dazzling in the way it jumps between sludgy, hyper-distorted guitar and airy, tranquil passages.
Not surprisingly, the album didn’t achieve great commercial success – it marked a pretty big departure from the rock-rooted marketability of STP. Critics, however, were slightly more attuned to the album’s artistry. Rolling Stone’s David Fricke wrote that it “isn’t really a rock album, or even a pop album. Weiland, out on his own, has simply made an honest album – honest in its confusion, ambition and indulgence.”
That sentiment speaks well to the charm of 12 Bar Blues, even 18 years later. It’s an exercise in sincerity, assembled with little care for convention or commerce. Weiland reunited with the other three members of Stone Temple Pilots just a few months after the release of the album to begin work on their back-to-basics 1999 album, No. 4. And while he went on to release two more albums with STP, two with modern rock supergroup Velvet Revolver and another solo album, 2008’s “Happy” in Galoshes, there’s something about 12 Bar Blues that sets it apart from the rest of Weiland’s discography.
The album shows that, after stripping away all personal pandemonium and trappings of rock stardom that defined his public persona, Weiland was a remarkably gifted, nuanced and versatile artist, capable of playing with words and sound the way a painter manipulates color. If there’s anything about 12 Bar Blues that’s regrettable, it’s that Weiland never released another album quite like it.