Mad Season - Above
This is the story of the album "Above" and the supergroup "Mad Season"...
During the final mixing of Pearl Jam's "Vitalogy" album, Mike McCready went through a drug and alcohol rehab procedure at a rehab facility in Minnesota. At the institute, he met John Baker Saunders who also came from Seattle and was in the process of rehab.
The two returned to Seattle together and decided to set up a side project with drummer Barrett Martin who played in "Screeming Trees". The three entered the rehearsal room and immediately began writing songs.
Since they did not have a lead singer, Mike thought who was a good friend of Layne Staley from Alice In Chains, invited Layne to the band. Mike thought it would be good for Layne to work and be around people who had just quit drugs and alcohol since Layne was at that difficult time of drug addiction.
The atmosphere in the rehearsal room and studio was very similar to the atmosphere in the "Temple Of The Dog" sessions, the collaboration and creativity between the members were so amazing that Mike closed a show even before they could finish one song. Detached from their mother bands, without any pressure, without any commitment, released from all inhibitions, the members together created and recorded 10 songs that entered the album (and many other materials that did not enter). The writing of the entire album took seven days and only a few more days in which Layne recorded vocals.
Layne was given a free hand when it came to writing the lyrics and the melody of the song, he felt he was on a spiritual journey, a mission, a search, and this would also be reflected in the songs, in which Layne chaptered all his personal frustrations and his struggles with addictions.
Already in the opening song of the album "Wake Up" you can feel the enormous exposure that Layne transmits in the text and poetry, even though the music for the song was written even before Layne arrived in the band.
After several appearances on the local scene in 1994, the band gained popularity, changing its name to "Mad Season" which is an English nickname for a season in which the hallucinogenic mushrooms are in full bloom (Mike's allusion to his drinking season and drug use),
And on March 14, 1995, they released their only album "Above".
The influence of the blues from which John Baker and Layne Stally came from is very noticeable on the album, but it also includes influences from other genres, even jazz.
The album released two top singles "River Of Deceit" and "I Don't Know Anything".
After the album's release, the band performed several shows, including a special one that took place on April 29, 1995, at the Moore Theater in Seattle and was videotaped, but the band disbanded immediately afterward. Baker died of an overdose in January 1999 and in April 2002 Layne Staley also died of an overdose, which finally sealed the band's future.
A special edition of the album was released in 2013, which included several bonus tracks in addition to the aforementioned performance that took place in 1995.
It is interesting to note that the singer and creator Mark Lanegan, known among others from the "Screaming Trees", is hosted in singing and participated in the writing of the tracks "I'm Above" and "Long Gone Day". Lanegan also wrote the lyrics to three songs from the deluxe version: "Locomotive", "Black Book of Fear", and "Slip Away", following Mike's requests to replace Layne and possibly release another album.
Another guest who helped write the song "Black Book of Fear" is Peter Buck from the band R.E.M.
Although the band did not survive for a long time and performed many shows, it is one of the prominent albums of the grunge scene, in the eyes of many fans and especially Mike, this album have a very strong meaning.
It's an exciting album that has touched a lot of people around the world and always reminds Mike of his two friends he lost out of the band.
Another significant influence of the album's creation on Mike is the turning point created in the career of the talented guitarist. Early in Pearl Jam's career, Mike was not active in writing. Maybe because of the dominant talents that were by his side or because of the drugs, but in any case, Mike did not contribute much to the work. After recording the album "Above" he discovered his writing ability and received a significant dose of confidence. He said that from that album he started contributing and taking an active part in the Pearl Jam albums.
The album cover is an illustration created by Layne based on a real picture of him and his then partner and fiancée Demri Parrott. Damari was the love of his life and his muse and she passed away as a result of an overdose, a year after the album was released. Layne was broken from her mammoth and some say it was the beginning of his deterioration to death. After her death, he asked for Damari's mother, Demari bear doll that Layne kept until the day he died.