MAD SEASONIt’s a good time to be a fan of Rock music right now as a new Alice In Chains album is due in May, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam, Sevendust, Scott Weiland and many others are gearing up for new albums of material. Speaking of Alice In Chains, former lead singer Layne Staley’s one & only album “Above” with the supergroup band Mad Season, will be seeing a reissue this April 2nd.

“I remember that we laughed a lot,” says Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin, of writing Above, the lone (and beloved) 1995 release from Seattle supergroup Mad Season. “We laughed about being sober for the first time, and the newsness of that. We laughed at ourselves and a lot of the stupid things we’d done as young men.”

After completing rehab in Minnesota and also Pearl Jam’s 1994 ‘Vitalogy’ album,  lead guitarist Mike McCready approached Screaming Trees guitarist Barrett Martin and Alice in Chains Layne Staley about the prospect of writing together, in hopes of helping the latter gain some distance from a battle with addiction that would Staley until his death in 2002. Joining them on bass was late Chicago native John “Baker” Saunders, a friend and fellow rehab alum. “It was kind of a failed attempt at trying to get everybody to not be drinking or doing drugs,” says McCready. “Not that you can really control that. You have to figure that out for yourself. It’s been really hard to go back and listen. I miss Baker. I miss Layne. I wonder how Layne would be met these days, what kind of music he’d be making or if he’d be a father. And his lyrics [on Above] in particular still sound fresh to me. They still make me feel, and that’s good.”

Above, Martin adds, is the only album comprised entirely of Staley-penned lyrics, many of which were inspired by a spiritually minded, Kahlil Gibran-enriched stack of books the late vocalist carried with him from place to place in a backpack. Coupled with compositions that remain outliers for their time, the result was a delicate, blues-driven set whose recording the foursome financed themselves, just weeks after they performed for the first time at a sold-out performance at Seattle’s legendary Crocodile Cafe. “It has a certain mood and a certain quality to it that no other records of that time really have,” says Martin. “There’s a real atmosphere to it. And when I listen to it, it just makes me happy. I’m sad about my friends being gone, but I also feel proud that we all left behind a beautiful piece of music. You can’t always say that.”

On April 2, the album will get a deluxe re-release in expanded form, including three songs originally meant to appear on Disinformation, a second Mad Season full-length album that never came to be. Because Staley never recorded vocal takes, Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan stepped in to complete them with fresh vocals and lyrics of his own. You can pre-order Mad Season now on iTunes, Amazon and Pearl Jam’s Ten Club store. Additionally, there will be double 12″ LP of Mad Seaon’s Above made available for Record Store Day on April 20.

We’ll have a full review for Mad Season when the album becomes available.

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