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Mad Season: Above (Deluxe Edition)

A glimpse into what might have been for Seattle supergroup

Featuring members of Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and the Screaming Trees, Mad Season’s one and only album was elegiac and quite brilliant. They went on extended hiatus in 1996 while singer Layne Staley struggled with his ongoing heroin problem, but it was the drug-related death of bassist John Baker Saunders in 1999 that finally did for them.

For the reissue, Mark Lanegan’s taken some of the tracks recorded for the band’s unreleased second album and added new vocals. What’s so saddening is how quickly apparent it becomes that Mad Season’s second album could have eclipsed their first.

Locomotive is built around Barrett Martin’s relentless, tribal drumbeat, creeping along like a bad dream. The eerily titled Black Book Of Fear rumbles like a distant storm before being spirited away on a shimmering solo while bloody-minded heartbreaker Slip Away thrums into life on a sheen of acoustic guitars.

The separate live disc, from April 1995, should break some hearts of its own, showcasing a band brimming with potential yet doomed to fail.

Philip Wilding is a novelist, journalist, scriptwriter, biographer and radio producer. As a young journalist he criss-crossed most of the United States with bands like Motley Crue, Kiss and Poison (think the Almost Famous movie but with more hairspray). More latterly, he’s sat down to chat with bands like the slightly more erudite Manic Street Preachers, Afghan Whigs, Rush and Marillion.