DVD Review: Malfunkshun - The Andrew Wood Story
In many grunge related documentaries you see, Andrew Wood and Mother Love Bone are merely mentioned as a footnote, usually when telling the tale of the formation of Pearl Jam, but this film really delves into the life and music of Andrew and the band.
It features interviews with both of Woods brothers, his mother Toni, Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, as well as many other notable grunge figures, each chip in to tell their own stories about Andrew and his music and the type of person he was, and some of the footage is very poignant. Family photos and tales of his first KISS concert with his brother where he decided he was going to be a rock star. The film documents his life from the very beginning and his troubled child hood, right up until his passing.
There is a great part in the film about all of the bands under the grunge umbrella, and how they came to form. It shows a sort of flow chart highlighting all of the Seattle bands in the mid 80’s and the direction they all went in, really shows what a tight community of musicians were around at this time. Chris Cornell talks in detail about how he and Wood were best friends, room mates, they shared everything and even wrote music together. Someone even jokes that had one of them be female, they would have made the perfect couple. We are also introduced to Wood’s fiancée Xana and the incredibly loving yet volatile relationship they shared.
The documentary goes into great detail about Wood’s issues with drugs, which sadly is a very big part of his story. We hear from some of his doctors and drug counsellors as they talk about the struggle he faced to try and beat his addiction, and we are even shown documents and writings from times when he was in a particularly bad way. What is really interesting to see is that during his later years, how angry Wood would get at himself for relapsing, as he cared so much about the band he did not want his drug issues to harm their chances of making it in any way. His passion and determination for his music was completely undeniable.
Obviously, we know the ending to his story, his tragic passing after a heroin overdose in 1990. The movie takes a very poignant turn when describing the lead up to his death, detailing how he was found by Xana and pronounced dead at his home, before being revived and taken to hospital and placed on life support. Very quickly all brain activity disappeared but his family would not turn off his machine until Chris Cornell could fly in from New York to be at his side, and Chris goes into more detail about this, clearly upset.
Overall, Mafunkshun really is a great film of a sad tale. Very engaging and really lets you in on the sort of person Andy was, something we have never really been able to see before. Definitely a must see for any fan of Andrew or Mother Love Bone, or a grunge fan in general. But even if not, it is a compelling watch and thoroughly recommended.