STONE TEMPLE PILOTS frontman SCOTT WEILAND recently released a Christmas album, and there’s quite a lot to say about it. Released for the 2011 Holiday season by Softdrive Records via Rhino, THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR is an interesting conversation piece that contains a couple decent renditions of classic tunes alongside some of the most… unique.
When I first posted Weiland’s video for Winter Wonderland last month, I wrote that “I can’t tell if he’s being 100% serious or not.” From the liner notes contained within the CD booklet (a small pamphlet, printed on paper – which accompanied a small, round disc which contained the audio – very common in the late 20th century), it’s quite clear that THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR is intended to be a serious affair, delivered with sincerity. With mention of the military that brings to mind the old Bob Hope U.S.O. specials along with the flashback sequences in the Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye WHITE CHRISTMAS, you’d expect something a little different than what’s actually here.
The fedora-sporting Weiland appears on the cover striking a crooner pose – but one that looks forced, complete with an oddly awkward smile. Better, classier, more timely photos appear elsewhere in the packaging, really making you wonder why the cover looks so bad – but then you see that Weiland himself served as the art director. In the previously mentioned music video, Scott doesn’t look right. He looks tired, stiff, and relatively unhappy. His face looks plastic, almost botoxed as if he can no longer smile – and maybe he has a new set of teeth as well. It’s almost like the Scott Weiland we know and love has been replaced by a robot – a Stepford version of himself if the Stepford Wives were Husbands instead.
The robo-Weiland appears throughout the album, notably displaying itself on I’ll Be Home For Christmas and the above mentioned Winter Wonderland. When he loosens up we have David Bowie-Weiland, in which Scott sounds like he’s got a few cocktails in him and is starting to have some fun. But he sounds like Bowie – this from the guy who covered Bowie’s Fame on 2008’s “HAPPY” IN GALOSHES. On just one track – the original, Happy Christmas and Many More do we hear anything resembling the STP/former VELVET REVOLVER frontman, but there it’s accompanying a reggae-tinged, sorta bossa nova track – which is also how Silent Nightis presented.
Overall, THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR is a musical oddity plagued with “what was he thinking?” moments. The backing band does a great job, and the orchestral arrangements by Weiland himself are pretty solid, but you have to wonder why no one tried to reign him in on those vocals. Or, maybe they did?
Hit iTunes for the good tracks, and leave the rest.
Rating: 1.5/5 Stars