Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story: By Scot Barbour

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Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story
Director: Scot Barbour
(Hip-O Select)

“…You guys got to take care of yourselves, I can’t go through this again. You guys in the band, well, I bet you feel like you’re sold out, but Andy didn’t do this to you. He had everything in the world to live for and he lived for you. I hope you go on to be the biggest stars you can be. I want to see you guys on TV, but if you guys got to get another singer, don’t get a junkie.”

Those are the words of David Wood at his son’s – Andrew Wood – memorial service on March 24, 1990. This is also how the Scot Barbour documentary film “Malfunkshun -The Andrew Wood Story” begins.

Wood aka L’andrew the Lovechild was the larger than life front man of the Seattle bands Malfunkshun and later on Mother Love Bone before his death of a drug overdose in 1990.

The charismatic singers death would be the first in a string of rock ‘n’ roll deaths to hit Seattle in the 90’s. At the time of his death Wood was fronting the band Mother Love Bone featuring Stone Gossard and Bruce Fairweather on guitars, bassist Jeff Ament and drummer Greg Gilmore. After signing to Polygram Records and releasing the EP Shine in 1989, Mother Love Bone was on the verge of rock stardom with their debut long player Apple. But on March 16, Wood was found comatose in his apartment by his girlfriend, having taken a lethal overdose of heroin. Wood was placed on life support, but the damage was already done, and he died three days later.  Apple was release on July 19, 1990 to rave reviews.

Director Scot Barbour originally debuted “Malfunkshun -The Andrew Wood Story” at the Toronto Film Festival several years ago and now with a deluxe packaging from Hip-O Select Records the movie finds the light of day.

“Malfunkshun -The Andrew Wood Story” chronicles Wood’s life with interviews from family – including brother’s Brian and Kevin and his Mom Toni telling stories about early family life. There are also many interviews with musicians and former band mates Ament, Gossard, Gilmore, Regan Hagar, Jack Endino and Kim Thayill and Chris Cornell of Soundgarden among others.
No matter who is telling a story about Wood, they all light up with memories and have funny stories to tell about their fallen friend. However, it’s not all laughs and rock ‘n’ roll. The film takes a look inside Wood’s dark side from being a young child seeing his parents fight to his later struggles with drugs.

“The Andrew Wood Story” is a 3-disc set featuring the original DVD of the documentary, with two discs of music, rarities, and interviews. The first disc is a reissue of Malfunkshun’s Return to Olympus – originally released in 1995 on Gossard and Hagar’s Loose Groove Records. The album is a collection of unreleased ‘80s recordings. The third disc features demos, oddities, radio interviews, and unreleased material from Wood’s former roommate Chris Cornell called “Islands of Summer.”

On a personal note I never knew Andrew Wood, but I have a hard time with his death. Mother Love Bone is one of the best bands to come out of the Seattle area and sadly a lot of people forget that because of the “grunge scene.” Arguably, even though Wood’s music wasn’t grunge, there would have never been Temple of the Dog, Pearl Jam, Brad, Mad Season and all the Pearl Jam-related side projects if it wasn’t for the death of Andrew Wood. I firmly believe his death was the precursor to the great Seattle music explosion. That is Andrew Wood, his legacy. He was taken to Olympus way too soon, but he has never truly left us.

We miss you Andrew, rest in peace.