Edited by Doug McCausland
Scott Weiland was known for many things throughout his incredible career, such as his impeccable ability to write a melody and his commanding stage presence. What was arguably his biggest strength, however, was his chameleon-like vocal abilities. It’s hard to think of many other singers, if any at all, with the ability to channel other vocalists like Weiland. In honor of the late Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman, here are his top 10 covers of classic songs.
- Mountain Song (Jane’s Addiction)
This Jane’s Addiction classic became a staple of Weiland’s live sets when his band officially became known as The Wildabouts during 2012 and 2013. He consistently nailed this one, even during the wildly inconsistent “Purple At The Core Tour”. This particular performance is probably the best Wildabouts performance I have ever heard; the band and Weiland absolutely kill it. It’s incredibly sad to see how much Weiland deteriorated in just three short years, seeing that he has almost as much energy during this performance as he did back during STP’s glory days. We never really saw Weiland in top form during those final couple of years.
- Revolution (The Beatles)
On October 2, 2001, a tribute concert for John Lennon took place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, where a host of famous artists came together to celebrate John Lennon and the city of New York less than a month after 9/11. It was at this show that STP debuted what has become one of their most well known covers, their take on The Beatles “Revolution.” The Deleos and drummer Eric Kretz master the gritty sound of the original studio version, but it is Weiland’s inner Lennon channeling that truly makes this performance special. It was so good that they went into the studio to record the song as a single the following month.
- Something Must Go This Way (Paloalto)
Released on disc two of Weiland’s sophomore solo effort, 2008’s Happy In Galoshes, this cover is a great example of Weiland’s ability to completely recreate a song and still keep the original magic, if not enhance it.
- The Jean Genie (David Bowie)
It was difficult to chose between this and Weiland’s take on David Bowie’s “Ashes To Ashes” that he recorded with Big Blue Missile circa 1999. Because this was a staple in Weiland’s solo shows for pretty much all of his tours with The Wildabouts, and like Mountain Song, he consistently nailed this song no matter what state he was in, I had to give “Jean Genie” the edge. Weiland could channel Bowie unlike anyone, and his version of “Jean Genie” is a testament to that. During The Wildabouts’ final tour, Weiland oftentimes seemed to be going through the motions, but during Jean Genie he always appeared to enter his element, as if him and Bowie had some sort of internal connection.
- Dancing Days (Led Zeppelin)
Perhaps my favorite STP cover, Weiland found his inner Robert Plant on this one. STP’s version of this Led Zeppelin classic is a slightly more mellow take, and Weiland’s soaring vocals and excellent vibrato take the cover to a new level while still staying true to Plant’s original take. This track was a rarity live that was only played during a few legs of the Self Titled tour in 2010 and 2011, and the Tiny Music tour in 1996.
- Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
This is undoubtedly one of Weiland’s most emotional covers; you can feel his heart pouring out on this one. All of the tragedy, all of the bittersweet moments. This performance, which features great musicianship from the rest of Velvet Revolver that can’t go unnoticed, was recorded in 2007, the year Weiland’s brother passed away from cardiomyopathy.
- But Not Tonight (Depeche Mode)
It’s hard to imagine the man responsible for the vocals in “Sex Type Thing” would be able to nail a Depeche Mode cover, but if anybody could do it, Weiland was that person. Originally covered for the soundtrack to Not Another Teen Movie, Weiland brought the track back with a performance on Jimmy Kimmel in 2011 to promote his autobiography. This is another great example of Weiland taking a song and making it his own.
- Time Of The Season (The Zombies)
Recorded for the soundtrack to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me with Big Blue Missile in 1999, this Zombies cover is another Weiland recreation that if anything enhances the original. Weiland was in his vocal prime during this era, and the power in his voice really shines on this cover. Weiland’s cover of Bowie’s “Ashes To Ashes” was recorded during this same session, but Big Blue Missile drummer Frank Reina commented that their take on the track “was a little too dark,” so they opted to go with this.
- Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle (Nirvana)
Weiland introduced this cover in 2011 to promote his autobiography, and it is one of the best recordings Weiland did in his final years. His band (not yet known as The Wildabouts) definitely does the song justice and stays true to the Nirvana version, but it’s Weiland’s channeling of Kurt Cobain that steals the show here. This is simply an excellent cover of an underrated song, and I would argue that it is at least as good as the original. While I prefer his studio take slightly over the live version, it’s worth checking out the live version too, as it captures the raw energy that the studio version doesn’t.
- Break On Through (The Doors)
This one doesn’t need an explanation. You can just feel the vibe from the members of The Doors; it’s like they have been transported back in time to the original days of the band with Jim Morrison. The look on Ray Manzarek’s face says it all. The Doors performed with several other guest vocalists in the last few decades, but no one ever came close to Weiland. This performance is simply incredible. Make sure to watch “Five To One” from this same show.
This list only scratches the surface of the many great covers Weiland recorded and performed throughout his career, as he paid tribute to everyone from Radiohead to Bing Crosby. Some of it just comes down to personal preference, but on certain songs Weiland would become a completely different singer – and that goes for his STP catalogue as well. Not many people could successfully segue from “First Kiss On Mars” to “Sex Type Thing” on a set list, but Weiland was a one of a kind singer.