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WIN! WIN! WIN! Mad Season’s “Above: Deluxe Edition” from Legacy Recordings Can Be YOURS!

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 11, 2013 at 11:59

Review: Mad Season, “Above: Deluxe Edition”

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Mad Season - AboveWhere was grunge, or alternative rock, in 1995?  Kurt Cobain had died one year earlier at his Seattle home.  Before 1995 was out, Alice in Chains had released its third album, the last with vocalist Layne Staley and also its final studio LP until 2009.  Foo Fighters, born from the ashes of Nirvana, scored a hit with its July debut, but by and large, the brief, blazing supremacy of grunge was ceding to other genres like post-grunge and Britpop.  Yet 1995 was the year in which Staley joined with Pearl Jam’s guitarist Mike McCready, Screaming Trees’ drummer-percussionist Barrett Martin and The Walkabouts’ John Baker Saunders to release Above, the only album by the grunge supergroup Mad Season.  Eighteen years later, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings have reinvigorated Above as a 2-CD/1-DVD Deluxe Edition (88725 47339 2), as well as a 12-inch 2-LP expanded vinyl edition and a digital version.

Above doesn’t stray far from the blueprint typically associated with so-called grunge albums.  Like the best of the genre, it removes all of the artifice once associated with hard rock in favor of a raw, “pure” sound.  The combo (vocalist, guitarist, bassist and drummer) is far from unusual.  The lyrics are expectedly dark and angst-ridden.  The sound is appropriately stripped-down.  One can practically hear the flannel shirts!  So why is Above being celebrated all these many years later?  The album affords another opportunity to evaluate the work of Layne Staley, who tragically died of a drug overdose in 2002.  He gifted Above with his only full set of original lyrics.  It also showcases his three bandmates in peak form, including Saunders, who fell victim to drugs in 1999.  Each member brought subtle touches, and crisp, tight interplay, to the somber, tense set of songs.  (Every track on the original album is credited to Staley for lyrics, and Mad Season for music, save “I’m Above” and “Long Gone Day,” with music by McCready, Martin and guest Mark Lanegan.)  Anguish is the thread which connects each of the album’s tracks, making Above an emotionally taxing but intermittently beautiful song cycle that veers from sadness to anger and back again.

Hit the jump to explore further! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 3, 2013 at 11:25

Posted in Mad Season, Reissues, Reviews

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Release Round-Up: Week of April 2

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Alexander O'Neal vinylThe S.O.S. Band / Cherrelle / Alexander O’Neal, “Tabu Reborn” Vinyl Editions (Wave 1) (Tabu/Edsel)

The start of a lengthy reissue campaign from Demon Music Group, these are 180-gram vinyl reissues of The S.O.S. Band’s III (1982), Cherrelle’s 1984 debut Fragile, and Alexander O’Neal’s self-titled debut from 1985. Expanded editions of these albums come out on CD next week, followed by a great many more waves of product throughout 2013 and into 2014!

S.O.S. Band: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Cherrelle: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Alexander O’Neal: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Martha and The Vandellas Singles CollectionThe Four Tops / Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, 50th Anniversary: The Singles Collections (Hip-O Select/Motown)

Two new lavish sets collect all the single sides worldwide by two of Motown’s most underrated vocal groups – and in the case of Martha & The Vandellas, there’s a bonus disc of unreleased “lost and found” content to enjoy, too!

Four Tops: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Mad Season - AboveMad Season, Above: Deluxe Edition (Columbia/Legacy)

This short-lived grunge supergroup, featuring Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley and members of Pearl Jam and Screaming Trees, only put out one record, but it’s been expanded as a 2CD/1DVD set featuring unreleased tracks (with vocals by Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan) and live audiovisual content. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Born Under a Bad SignAlbert King, Born Under a Bad Sign: Expanded Edition (Stax/Concord)

One of the Memphis’ label’s most celebrated blues albums is remastered and expanded with five unreleased alternate takes! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

David Gates - Early YearsDavid Gates, The Early Years: The Early Songwriting Genius of David Gates (Rare Rockin’)

Before leading Bread, Gates was a talented singer-songwriter whose early works were covered by a myriad of vocalists – many of which are making their CD debuts on this compilation. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Simple Minds CelebrateSimple Minds, Celebrate: The Greatest Hits (Virgin/EMI)

As the ’80s hitmakers embark on a new tour, this new hits compilation – available in double and triple-disc variants – was made available in the U.K. last week. (A U.S. release is reportedly slated for later this spring.)

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
3CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

RKivesRilo Kiley, RKives (Little Record Company)

A collection of rare and unreleased material from the now-defunct L.A. band.

Margaret Whiting - Wheel of HurtChet Atkins with The Boston Pops, The Pops Goes Country/The Pops Goes West / The Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 24: Cow Palace, Daly City, CA – 3/23/1974 / Tom Jans, Take Heart/Tom Jans / Barbara & Ernie, Prelude To… / Steve Lawrence, Winners!/On a Clear Day / Don Nix, Living by the Days / Eydie Gorme & The Trio Los Panchos, Amor/More Amor / Margaret Whiting, The Wheel of Hurt: Deluxe Edition Maggie Isn’t Margaret Anymore/Pop Country / Alfred Newman, The Diary of Anne Frank: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The latest wares from Real Gone: plenty of two-fers, a rare Alfred Newman soundtrack, a new Dead reissue and expanded works from country-pop singer Margaret Whiting.

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Mills MercilessJerry Butler, Love’s on the Mend/Suite for the Single Girl / Stephanie Mills, Merciless: Expanded Edition / Donna Washington, Going for the Glow: Expanded Edition / Nancy Wilson, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You/Now I’m a Woman (SoulMusic)

A slew of great titles from SoulMusic are out this week, including a Stephanie Mills album produced by the late Phil Ramone. Check out the above post for details.

Jerry Butler: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Stephanie Mills: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Donna Washington: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Nancy Wilson: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Anita WardCaston and Majors, Caston and Majors / Fern Kinney, Groove Me / Arthur Prysock, All My Life / Anita Ward, Songs of Love (Big Break)

And the latest expanded titles from Big Break include some Motown and T.K. rarities, including Anita Ward’s megahit “Ring My Bell.”

Caston and Majors: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Fern Kinney: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Arthur Prysock: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Anita Ward: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Judy Garland CreationsJudy Garland, Creations 1929-1962 (JSP)

A four-disc U.K.-only compilation of “the songs that Judy Garland sang first.” (Amazon U.K.)  U.S. customers may order at CD Universe or Collectors’ Choice Music for April 9 release.

eagles_boxEagles, The Studio Albums 1972-1979 (Elektra/Rhino)

Every one of the California hitmakers’ original studio albums, in a handy slipcase. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The Legacy of Record Store Day: Upcoming Exclusives Revealed From Sly, Willie, Miles, Taj, Aerosmith and More

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It’s not quite the summertime yet, but Legacy Recordings has some hot fun planned for Record Store Day thanks to a diverse slate of releases from A (Aerosmith) to, well, S (Sly and the Family Stone)!  April 20 is the date when Legacy will join 2013 Record Store Day Ambassador Jack White to celebrate not only those beloved black vinyl discs, but also the brick-and-mortar retail record store experience which we hold very dear at The Second Disc.

Titles for the sixth annual Record Store Day have already been announced from artists including Paul McCartney, Duran Duran and Hüsker Dü; we know that plenty more news is on the way, so stay tuned for more RSD scoops as they come!  In the meantime, hit the jump to find out just what goodies Legacy has in store for you! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 22, 2013 at 09:46

Mad Season’s “Above” Rediscovered for Expansive Deluxe Edition

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Mad Season - AboveThough the group isn’t often spoken of in the same breath as Crosby, Stills and Nash or The Traveling Wilburys, Mad Season was a bona fide supergroup for the 1990s.  The Seattle-based group of musicians – Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, guitarist Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, drummer/percussionist Barrett Martin of Screaming Trees, and bassist John Baker Saunders of The Walkabouts and The Lamont Cranston Band – joined together in 1994 and released just one album, 1995’s Columbia Records release Above.  Almost twenty years later, Legacy Recordings is revisiting that watershed album in a 2-CD/1-DVD Deluxe Edition, as well as a 12-inch 2-LP expanded vinyl edition and a digital version.  The Deluxe Edition will arrive on April 2, while the vinyl will follow for Record Store Day on April 20.

It was, indeed, a mad season for the talented quartet of Staley, McCready, Martin and Saunders.  Despite scoring a Top 10 single with “River of Deceit” and a Top 10 album with Above, the band’s time together was short, as group members struggled with substance abuse.   (The name Mad Season refers to the time of year when “magic mushrooms” are in bloom.)  Following the success of the debut album, a second Mad Season effort was mooted in 1996, with all members save Staley writing and recording tracks for roughly 15 new songs.  Staley’s health precluded him from participating, however, and the sessions were eventually shelved.  A hiatus was planned, but it became permanent.  Mad Season never reunited; McCready returned to Pearl Jam and Martin to Screaming Trees.  Saunders died of an overdose in 1999, with Staley also tragically losing his life to drugs just three years later.  (Perhaps ironically, McCready first met Saunders in rehab.)  Yet Mad Season left behind an abundance of riches on the dark, somber and bluesy Above.  Produced by Brett Eliason, it remains the only complete album of Layne Staley’s evocative lyrics, and featured additional vocals from Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan and Seattle-based saxophonist/percussionist Skerik (a.k.a. Eric Walton).

After the jump: what will you find on the Deluxe Edition?  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 8, 2013 at 10:09

Posted in Mad Season, News, Reissues