Now that I’ve gotten your attention with that absurdly over-the-top headline…

Stone Temple Pilots’ debut album, Core, was released in September 1992 to much derision; many a grunge fan cried foul over the way the San Diego band shamelessly aped Seattle titans like Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.  (And one of the album’s singles,  “Creep,”  might as well be singer Scott Weiland’s mediocre entry into a Kurt Cobain soundalike contest.)  Whatever the merits of their subsequent work, STP has an indelible scarlet letter on their record because of the way they started out with Core.  They are condemned to be forever remembered as recyclers, imitators, and coattail-riders.

What I’m trying to get at, I suppose, is that no one should be shocked to a discover that an early ’90s STP song has unoriginal elements.  But since I’m writing this post, I’m hoping you’ll be mildly surprised — or at least a little amused — to learn that one of those songs is even more unoriginal than you previously thought.  Specifically, I’m talking about “Sex Type Thing,” the band’s very first single, perhaps most recognizable for its memorable guitar riff.

Yes, it’s a very memorable hook indeed — so memorable, in fact, that I instantly recognized it when I heard in the car this afternoon.  Only one problem:  I wasn’t listening to the Stone Temple Pilots.  Instead, I was listening to the Dictators’ adrenaline-pumping third album, Bloodbrothers, which was released in 1978.  Ross the Boss, their lead guitarist, was playing the riff during the verses of a song called “The Minnesota Strip,” and the rhythm guitar picked it up during Ross’s solo.  Sure, the heavy grunge distortion used in “Sex Type Thing” wasn’t used in the Dictators’ song, and sure, the STP song’s tempo is a bit faster, but the riff is pretty much the same.

Is it a rip-off?  Consider this:  Not only do the songs use the same riff, but both are about the same subject — sexual exploitation.  Then again, one is a Scott Weiland rape fantasy, while the other is just about Handsome Dick Manitoba picking up prostitutes, so… maybe not.

Entirely by coincidence, earlier today, Cracked.com published an article, “7 Famous Musicians Who Stole Some of Their Biggest Hits,” which is about exactly what the title says it’s about.  The writer, Mohammed Shariff, tried to pick out a few songs by each of seven artists — including, among others, the Beatles, Radiohead, the Strokes, and Green Day — and identify earlier songs whose elements were supposedly taken without permission for the later songs.  A couple of Shariff’s examples were correctly identified blatant rip-offs, but he was completely off-base with most of the rest.  While he did a good job of convincing his readership that he didn’t know a thing about chord progressions, he did a poor job of doing what he set out to do — that is, convincing readers that these bands are dirty, rotten music thieves.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering whether I’m taking the same approach to this post as Shariff took to his Cracked article.  Well, I’m not.  I’m not trying to convince you that Scott Weiland, Dean DeLeo, and Eric Kretz are a bunch of dirty, rotten music thieves.  I honestly don’t think that those three were stealing from the Dictators when they wrote “Sex Type Thing.”  Why not?  Well, to be honest, I just don’t think that any of the Stone Temple Pilots had ever listened to the Dictators prior to writing this song.  Even if they did listen to some punk rock while growing up, somehow I don’t think the geniuses who gave us “Wet My Bed” were quite sophisticated enough to “get” the Dictators.

Call it a hunch.

-Hardiman

P.S.  The Dictators’ “The Minnesota Strip” is nowhere to be found on YouTube or Vimeo, but you can listen to it on Grooveshark by clicking here.  And below please find the loathsome music video for STP’s “Sex Type Thing.”

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