A couple of shaky (literally) early promotional outings for Weiland's latest solo effort, Happy in Galoshes, pointed toward another train wreck this winter, but--at press time--the vocalist has fulfilled all live obligations, including a well-received STP New Year's Eve gig. With the help of producer Doug Grean, a frequent Weiland collaborator and co-founder of Weiland's label, Softdrive Records, Happy manages to capture flashes of his former STP glory with hook-laden rockers "Missing Cleveland" and "Blind Confusion."
Elsewhere on Happy, Weiland professes mad Bowie love (outside of stealing the Thin White Duke persona) on "Paralysis," and squeezes a "Good Vibrations"-worthy harmonic refrain into "Beautiful Day," a reworking of a STP outtake. But a series of loungy ballads, a shameful Casio-based cover of Bowie's "Fame" and six-plus minutes of Weiland's Liza Minnelli-like, drunken-karaoke rendition of the hymn "Be Not Afraid" erases all previously earned goodwill, even if it is just a bonus track.
Time will tell if, to Weiland, Grean is a poor man's Rick Rubin, or closer to Brian Wilson's money-funneling, co-writing Svengali therapist Dr. Landy. Keep an eye on a recently inked deal tying Weiland's publishing rights from STP's catalog--and all future projects--to Grean and Weiland's Softdrive label.