This spring, Sony Legacy will release a deluxe version of Mad Season’s one and only critically-acclaimed album, Above. Due out April 2, the expanded release will include a DVD and two CDs that feature the original studio album plus five bonus tracks intended for the band’s second album and a full concert video of their last show ever performed.
The Seattle supergroup of Layne Staley from Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Barrett Martin from Screaming Trees and the Walkabouts’ John Baker Saunders formed in 1994, shortly after McCready and Saunders returned from rehab stints in Minnesota. Mad Season’s beloved Above, originally released in March of 1995, also included guest vocals and additional lyrics by Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan.
The band began recording sessions in 1996 for a follow-up effort, but Staley and Saunders were battling addictions.
“You can only try so long before you kind of go, ‘Ok we need to move on or figure something else out,’” McCready told Billboard. “We tried hard to get them down but they weren’t in any shape.”
Saunders and Staley both ended up dying of drug overdoes in 1999 and 2002, respectively.
The expanded reissue came about last year when surviving members McCready and Martin got together and revisited some of the rough cuts from those 1996 recording sessions. Lanegan eventually got on board again, too, helping to pen lyrics and lending vocals on three previously unreleased tracks “Locomotive,” “Black Book of Fear” and “Slip Away.”
“‘Locomotive’ is a song that best represents the direction Mad Season was going for our second, unfinished album,” Martin told Rolling Stone. “Mark Lanegan’s lyrics and powerful voice captures that time perfectly.”
McCready, meanwhile, noted the new direction of “Slip Away.”
“‘Slip Away,’ which I wrote, was kind of my feeling at the time how [Mad Season] was slipping away,” McCready told Billboard. “The guitar solo at the end of that, you can hear the pain that’s in that. That’s my pain of how this whole thing was all falling apart when Baker and Layne were dying… Mark put lyrics to that and they mean something different now… but I’m getting a little deep in to what the lead is. You’ll listen to it and you’ll hear pain.”
So mark your calendars for the April 2 drop date, and in the meantime, enjoy this documentary piece.