As others have said, this album deserves to be better known.
The 4 musicians together produce a warm, mellow album that sounds quite unlike anything by their usual bands. I feel that
Layne Staley is the real star of the album since he wrote virtually all the lyrics and plays a fair bit of guitar, whereas with Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell wrote most of their material.
The standout tracks I think are Wake Up(the opening track), River Of Deceit, Long Gone Day and Lifeless Dead.
As well as the excellent guitar work of Pearl Jam's Mike McCready and drums by Barrett Martin of the Screaming Trees,
'Above' serves as a worthy tribute to both Layne Staley and bassist John Baker Saunders who both later died tragically of drug overdoses.
on 28 September 2007
It's hard not to be completely in awe of Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley's vocals and lyrical ability. This singer as well as the troupe of Screaming Trees and Pearl Jam members that make up this album, were the voices of my twenties. The recording, made after an extended Jam session at a Seattle cafe with Staley and Peal Jam went exceptionally well, features vocals hewn from pain, sorrow, and remembrance of things past. At times it feels like a jam more than a directed recording, but why should that be a bad thing - the opening "Wake Up" is unmatched for its cascading chorus, the mellow tints - it's so engulfing you fancy the light in the room might be dimming in time with the quieter moments. Screaming Trees fans will enjoy Mark Lanegan's guest appearance on 2 tracks. It is a sad testament to the march of heroin that 2 of the band (Baker and Staley) have died from an overdose. There is one more song (a John Lennon song cover) on the Lennon Tribute Album "Working Class Hero" called I don't Wanna be a Soldier." Other than that, these songs are all we ever got.
Rest in Peace.
on 29 May 2013
A brilliant mix of blues, rock and grunge...The "new" Mark Lanegan songs stand up to the rest of the album (although the haunting voice of Layne Staley is sadly missed)....Probably Mike McCready's finest hour?
on 6 February 2013
If you enjoyed the Alice in Chains EP's, 'Sap' and 'Jar of Flies', chances are you will love this album. A 'Seattle Supergroup' that went largely unnoticed and unappreciated during it's brief lifespan in the 90's, Mad Season comprised members of Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Screaming Trees. Layne Staley is the real star of the show here, and his instantly recognisable voice is on top form.
The main difference to be pointed out between Mad Season and Alice in Chains (Staley's better known band), which becomes clear after just a few songs, is the guitar sound. Whilst AIC favored aggressive and almost sinister riffs, combined with creepy, haunting acoustic melodys, Mike Mcready (of Pearl Jam fame) utilises a more blues/jazz based mellow groove to his playing on this record, and when combined with Staley's powerful and tortured voice, makes for an intruiging musical cocktail.
There are some great tracks on offer here. Album opener 'Wake Up' is a grand way to set things off, begining with the gentle chimes of Mcready's guitar, then slowly introducing Staley's creaky, painful tones, which slowly build into an epic display of vocal power when the 'chorus' kicks in (not really a chorus in the traditional sense of the word). It is songs like this that proved Staley to be one of the best rock vocalists of the 90's, and that was up against some pretty stiff competition.
There are a couple of throwaway tracks aswell, which do little to help the album along, but they are few and far between.
One of the most interesting musical releases of the 90's alt-rock revolution, Above deserves to be recognised along with the better known albums of its era, and I guarantee that if you give a chance, you won't regret it.
on 4 February 2014
Whilst Layne Staley would still later record with Alice in Chains, his heart was never really there. But in this release with his solo super group, you can see that Staley revelled in the creative freedom he had. He wrote almost all of the lyrics, contributed to songs and even designed all of the artwork. This was indeed Layne Staley's baby.
That doesn't mean Above is easy listening mind you. Staley has a distincitive voice, depressing for some, hypnotic to others, and when you play the record don't expect people around you to go wow! Layne Staley and Mad Season is an acquired taste.
There are 10 songs here. With highlights being Wake Up, River of Deceit, I'm Above, Lifeless Dead and the superb instrumential November Hotel. Only X ray Mind and All Alone don't work that well. Though All Alone was quite superb in a live setting. As you would expect the lyrics are no holiday camp and deal with drug addiction, depression and relationships gone sour. it's heavy stuff, but if you're in the mood then Above is one of the best records to come out of the Seattle era. For some it could be said that Above is grunge all grown up.
The deluxe edition contains 3 extra tracks all sung fittingly well by Mark Lanegan and a bunch of cool extras with live shows etc. It's worth purchasing the deluxe now it is finally here. And it has the infamous Moore show uncut.
on 4 April 2013
The original album was great, but this is fantastic, live at the Moore, more previously unseen footage, and the three new songs featuring Mark Lanegan are the icing on the cake, they really stand out. Just buy it.
on 6 May 2013
A truly honest piece of work from four men with severe sensitivities and a great level of artistic creativity. One of the groups i would always put on a "would have liked to have seen live" list.
on 27 February 2005
It's unlikely that your after this album unless your familiar with the works of Alice in Chains (Layne Staley) or Pearl Jam (Mike McCready), the two main 'stars' of this side project. However 'Above' is not reminiscent of either of the above bands in terms of sound; rather it has a much more subdued, Jazzy/Bluesy feel to it. Why this album is not more widely acclaimed is beyond me, perhaps because its probably the least commercial album to come from the grunge era. Don't expect a continuous masterpiece as with Pearl Jams 'Ten', although it would be foolish not to own this album. The opening track 'Wake up' is worth the money alone, alongside a handful of other undiscovered works of art. Skip through the distinctively ordinary tracks and be inspired.
on 23 January 2005
This album is really really good.
The opening track epitomises Layne's vocal abilities, harsh and beautiful. It sounds so soulful that you can't help being sucked into the world of the music. It's not samey (appart from maybe Mike's solos, which at times sound all too familiar to previous efforts) and thusly makes it always interesting and always great to listen to. I think Layne Staley is one of the greatsest singers and this is no exception. Best songs?
... 'Wake up', 'River of deceit' and 'i'm above'.
Buy it if you like any of the artists involved or even if you don't!
on 3 June 2004
Mad Season - existence of the band was a season, indeed. "Above" is the first and simultaneously the last album of this ephemeral project. Mad Season's specific sound was due to Layne Staley (Alice In Chains) and Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) who - when played together - emitted an incredible dose of energy (what can be seen on their concerts). I strongly recommend MS. In my opinion, "Above" is one of the most mature grunge albums ever - an absolute must-have! Season bands (or rather projects?) are the best - consider the example of Temple of the Dog ;)...