Why is Mad Season’s Above on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
A supergroup with real chemistry. An album that’s deeply affecting and melancholy and cool.
Some stats & info about Mad Season – Above
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock, Alternative Rock, Rock Music, Grunge, Indie Rock, Seattle Bands
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 3 out of 5 stars
- When was Above released? 1995
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #872 out of 1,000
Mad Season’s Above on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Mad Season’s Above mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
As luck would have it, I’m writing this best 1,000 albums ever entry on the night of the NBA trade deadline in early 2022.
The biggest basketball news of the day is that a trio of superstars on the Brooklyn Nets – a “supergroup” of NBA players if there ever was one – was broken up before we really got to see them in action at all. While there were other players and draft picks involved, the top line news is that the Nets’ James Harden was traded for the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons.
There’s a lot of reasons why the trade was made and why the supergroup was broken up before its time, but what’s important in this context is that I’m reminded how important chemistry is in team sports and with musicians and bands alike.
Which is to say, if you could wave a magic wand (and what a wand it would be!) and assemble a supergroup of your favorite musicians from all time – for kicks, lets go with Ray Manzarek of The Doors on keyboards, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin on drums, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers on bass, and Meg White of The White Stripes on vocals (which… might be kind of incredible, actually?) – that doesn’t automatically make them a band destined for massive success and, in fact, may well have less chance for success versus a group of musicians with incredible chemistry who become much more of the sum of their parts when the music machine becomes fully operational and sentient, so to speak.
Great, Harden and Simmons, magic wands and made up funk-heavy metal-jazz/blues rock bands of historical conjuring, you say. What about Mad Season. What about the Mad Season, man?
Yes, Mad Season. I was getting to that, and thank you. A “supergroup” with real chemistry and a singular album in Alone that is deeply affecting and melancholy and cool. And the bands that Mad Season pulls from – Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees – are among the most popular and critically acclaimed to come out of the “Seattle scene” in the 1980s and early 1990s.
“Wake Up” is an exceptionally executed and surprisingly delicate yet powerful pop song with beautiful keyboard sounds and a delightfully dark edge.
If I didn’t know better, I’d easily think that “I Don’t Know Anything” is slightly unusual-sounding Alice in Chains, and/but I’d easily rank it in my Top 10 AiC songs. It’s got that whiny yet intriguing, dark yet beguiling, sludgy yet catchy sound that all Alice in Chains acolytes (like my man Lou, an unfortunate Nets fan lifer and AiC superfan both) know well.
The bongos and soft, gravely vocals on “Long Gone Day” could almost be the start of a Tom Waits song in the best possible way. It then segues into a subtle yet perfectly grungy groove, the acoustic guitar and bongos accenting each other, and the harmonizing vocals some of the best you’ll find out of the entire Seattle scene catalog.