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Documentary: Cure for Pain: The Mark Sandman Story

When Morphine’s Cure for Pain came out in 1993 i wasn’t too impressed. I was in the middle of going from my Guns N’ Roses/Nirvana phase to a more louder couple of bands and while the few Morphine songs i heard sounded cool i never really bothered to check out that album and basically forgot all about them. Until i saw them again a couple years ago on an old Beavis and Butt-head episode and figured i would check them out anyway. And i’m glad i did as all their albums sound incredibly good, with The Night and, ofcourse, Cure for Pain being my favorites. I was a bit bummed that i only discovered them then and therefor never got to see the weird combination of two string bass, baritone sax and drums in a live setting before Mark Sandman passed away after a heart attack he suffered on stage in Italy.

A few days ago this documentary was brought to my attention after reading a post by Italian photographer Valerio Berdini, who was at the last Morphine gig in Italy and was taking pictures there.


The documentary shows the life of Mark Sandman, from his youth to his last ever gig in Italy and while it’s a nice insight in the Morphine’s frontman life it has some flaws. Part of it can’t be helped by the makers, as a lot of footage is taken from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, a time where there weren’t HD camera’s so the imagery of those times is often blurry and a little washed out. But that isn’t really bothering. What is bothering is the way the recent interviews, for instance with Sandman’s parents, are shot. Zoomed in too far, low sound and a weird color tone. I’m not sure if that’s done on purpose but it’s not really working in my opinion.


Another thing, and again something the makers can’t help, is that Sandman was a bit of a private person so he kept a lot of things to himself. Therefor the story isn’t really as interesting for non-Morphine fans and you hear and see a lot of things but they never really get to the bottom of how and why. Sometimes i felt like they could have asked further in the interviews with for instance his parents about why there was such a distance between them and Sandman and why they only found out about his real success and popularity after he passed away. But maybe this was done on purpose not to upset his parents, since they already lost two sons before Sandman passed away as well.

Despite all this it is a nice documentary about a unique singer, and band, that deserves the attention. The different footage from small bars to larger festivals is great to see and makes you realize that Morphine truely did something special. If you like Morphine or are interested in music this documentary is recommended.


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