Fronted by charismatic and multi-talented singer Mark Sandman, toting his self-built twostring bass, Boston’s Morphine rose through the 1990s with the introverted post-punk style they called ‘low rock’. After four albums, starting with 1991’s Good (1997’s Like Swimming marking their debut on Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks), Sandman died onstage at a sweltering July 1999 Italian rock festival after suffering a heart attack stemming from a congenital defect. By the time Morphine’s next album, The Night, was released in 2000, the band had split.
Since then Morphine have enjoyed a swelling posthumous legend, consolidated by Mark Shuman’s detailed film that traverses their rise to alternative stardom. It’s enhanced by interviews with associates, star fans and band members, including sax titan Dana Colley and drummers Jerome Deupree and Billy Conway.
The film beautifully evokes an era when grass roots and college radio could break a band into the mainstream but, sadly, ends up a tragedy.