Andy Wood – Love Lost In Seattle (1990)

AWMotherLoveBoneECGAs the late 80s started to sign a brighter hope in Seattle‘s morbid hemisphere (remember – it always rains in Seattle?) the music industry quivered with the prospect that Seattle has finally found its next star product following the ever so magnetic Jimi Hendrix and the man was none other than Mother Love Bone’s front man, Andrew Wood. The acceptance towards Mother Love Bone as the succeeding historical touchstones of the city’s sullied almanac has reached fever pitched and there was no longer a doubt that once their album hits the dawn of the daylight, the band will carry the crown home. There was no better time for Mother Love Bone to finally make their lush debut, as they have shined at predominantly at creating an impression while Wood’s self-imposed British glam-rock benchmark cemented him as one of Seattle’s finest products to date. Unfortunately for Seattle, Wood jumped of to the deep end when he died from an alleged heroin overdose just a few months before the album, Apple was due to change his live and the entire demographic structure of Seattle’s underground music archives, was scheduled to hit the stores thus ending  Seattle’s hopes and dreams for the aspiring young idol.

Andrew Patrick Wood, the youngest of 3 brothers was born in January 8, 1966 in Columbus, Mississippi and started experimenting music at a very young age. In 1980, Wood‘s who was 14 formed Malfunkshun with his brother, Kevin and the band’s lush debut instantly established Malfunkshun as the scene’s firm favourites ultimately uplifting their names in the Seattle alternative music show ground. Malfunkshun recorded its first demo in April 1980 and in the following years as they started to open for Seattle’s subversive bands such as Soundgarden, The U-Men, and Skin Yard, the pressure of spotlight fell greatly on Wood for a number of reasons.

Often referred to as a startling composition between the legendary front man of the The Door’s, Jim Morrison and Marc Bolan of T-Rex, musically Wood was more aligned to the early 70s British rock personified bands such as Queen and T-Rex while adapting to the comically obscene glam-rock fashion that was widely popularised by British acts such as T-Rex and David Bowie among others and Lou Reed, The New York Dolls and Jobriath in US. Although facing decline halfway through the mid 70s, glam rock was occasionally revived  throughout 90s and has since influenced punk, gothic rock and more.

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Still early in his inception, Wood was already causing quit the stir in the industry and in doing so managed to turn some heads in his way. Andy Wood’s was blessed with the whole hermaphrodite visage, spunk and charisma of his former antecedents; the ever so flawless lions of hard rock such as Robert Plant and Jimmy Page from the Led’s, Patti Smith, David Bowie, Mick Jagger and the rest that was hardly seen in the new and upcoming band of the mid to late 80s. Taking the spirit of fashion to the heart, Andrew Wood  would often take the stage dolled up in heavy make up and daring plus outrages clothes through his stage alter-ego, Landrew The Love Child. 

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In 1985, while the music was slowly picking up the speed and flair of the mainstream arena, it also somehow ignited the cultural shift in the opium trade as Seattle started to witness a rise in the heroin transaction while  youth turned to the substance as the ultimate drugs of choice. Andy Wood became one of the many youth who started falling into the heroin trapping but managed to steer off the path when he got himself admitted to a rehab in the same year. After cleaning up his act, Wood and Malfunkshun continued performing around Seattle picking up a steady flow of partisans who were growing in volumes by then. Andy Wood and Green River are still upheld as the real forefathers of grunge in the early Seattle underground movement.

Although Malfunkshun recorded a hefty stash of demos throughout their reign, they never officially released an album and were also turned down by Sub Pop, a famous Seattle-based record label who would continue to sign Nirvana as they found Malfunkshun not grunge enough to grace their map of existing artists since the record label was highly committed in fronting bands that were inclined to the soaring trends of grunge. Even without a proper record label to fluctuate Malfunkshun’s talents further into stardom, two of Malfunkshun’s songs ‘With Yo’ Heart (Not Yo’ Hands) and Stars-n-You were compiled in the legendary Deep Six Compilation Album released by C/Z Records in 1986. That served as the last credits to the Mulfunkshun’s catalog as the band disbanded two years later in 1988.

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Shortly after Malfunkshun pulled the plug on the band, Wood and Hagar started jamming with Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament of the Green River, which also met its end in the same year. Together, they started performing under the pseudonym Lords of the Wasteland until former Green River guitarist Bruce Fairweather joined the band followed by Skin Yard’s drummer Greg Gilmore replacing  Hagar. The band was later baptised as Mother Love Bone. The formation of Mother Love Bone saw a heavy collision of two power pack band members who had equal fame, talents and cult in the scene and this further upheld the band’s reputation than anyone could have dared to comprehend. In 1989, the band signed a deal with Polygram and issued a six-song EP, Shine through their sub label, Stardog.

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1. Thru Fade Away                                   2. Mindshaker Meltdown                                     3. Half Ass Monkey Boy
4. Chloe Dancer / Crown of Thorns    5. Capricorn Sister

mother_love_boneMother Love Bone newly released EP, Shine was later cited as a form of dedication to the whole Seattle music hubbub by John Book. In 1989, the band started recording their debut album while simultaneously going on tours and supporting bands like the The Dogs D’Amour. With such high hopes and expectations placed on Mother Love Bone’s upcoming album (later called Apple), Wood started to acknowledge his struggles with the heightening need and desire for heroin addiction, he once again checked into a rehab in 1989 hoping to kick the habit before the album release staying there till the end of the year.

In the dawn of 1990, the band continued to play gigs in Seattle while they waited for the release of their first studio album, Apple.

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1. This Is Shrangila                     2. Stardog Champion                  3. Holy Roller                               4. Bone China                       5. Come Bite the Apple               6. Stargazer                                    7. Heartshine                             8. Captain Hi-Top (Hi Top)
9. Man of Golden Words           10. Capricorn Sister                    11. Gentle Groove                      12. Mr. Danny Boy
13. Crown of Thorns

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However, Seattle’s exceptional jewel of the year did not live long to enjoy the kind of reception that the band’s album would live to harbour when his girlfriend found him in a state of comatose (where casualties falls into a deep sleep and looses all sense of response to touch or sometimes having no or little ability to response thus diminishing any signs of brain activities) after overdosing on an alleged lethal dose of heroin. Wood was immediately rushed to the Harborview Hospital and placed on life support. Wood suffered a haemorrhage aneurysm and despite of being responsive he had lost all brain functions. Andrew Wood was removed from life support on the 19 March 1990 following the physician’s suggestion thus marking his biological time of death. It also marked the day where Seattle was shaken to the core of its very foundation for having to loose yet another of its star studded son who was destined for greater things in life.

Apple may be one of the first great hard-rock records of the 90s and Andrew Wood could have been the first of the big-league Seattle rock starsDavid Browne of The New York Times

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Apple opened to an overall positive review from the critics and was well received by fans.

All members of Mother Love Bone broke up shortly after Wood’s death and went their separate ways. However, Gossard and Ament reconcile after much persuasion from Mike McCready and set out to form a new band that would later be known as Pearl Jam with Eddie Vedder of Broken Radio as the band’s front man.

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In the following year, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, a long time friend of Wood’s who was also a former roommate erected Temple Of The Dog as homage for the fallen hero. Cornell who already wrote two songs, ‘Reach Down’ and ‘Say hello 2 heaven’ approached Gossard, Ament (who were Mother Love Bone’s former members) and McCready to record the songs as singles before all of them reached to an agreement of releasing a full album dedicated to Wood. Mat Cameron joins Temple as the drummer and the San Diego based musician and surfer, Eddie Vedder who came down for an audition for the future Pearl Jam would also end up as a contributing vocalist with a duet between Cornell and Vedder on ‘Hunger Strike’ on Temple of The Dog’s self titled one and only debut album released in 1991.

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Temple disband after the album release and all existing members returned to their respective bands, which later sees the formation of Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam first and major debut, Ten would open to international stardom shortly after Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ breaks the barrier of the Seattle’s underground movement simultaneously uplifting it to the shiny pop spectrum of the mainstream arena. Pearl Jam’s newfound fame saw Temple’s previous work coming back to the spotlight that it so richly deserved.

Alice in Chains members debuted ‘Would?’ to Wood’s memories also including other fallen hero’s of the music society who died as a result of heroin addiction in their second album Dirt.  

I was thinking a lot about Andrew Wood at the time. We always had a great time when we did hang out, much like Chris Cornell and I do. There was never really a serious moment or conversation, it was all fun. Andy was a hilarious guy, full of life and it was really sad to lose him. But I always hate people who judge the decisions others make. So it was also directed towards people who pass judgments. Jerry Cantrell

Both Shine and Apple were reissued by PolyGram in 1992 as part of the Mother Love Bone compilation album while Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns was included on the soundtrack to the film Singles.

Faster Pussycat, an LA-based band also wrote a song in tribute to Wood’s called Mr. Lovedog from the album Whipped!  Allmusic’s, Bradley Torreano, described the song as a sad requiem to the passing of yet another charismatic figure in the metal world.

Continuing the tradition in the memory of the late Andrew Wood, another Seattle grunge band, Candlebox released their self-title debut featuring the single Far Behind, which was made to his name in 1993 followed by former band mate Stone Gossard who compiled all of Malfunkshun’s early recordings and releasing it as a compilation album, Return to Olympus.

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A documentary was finally made in commemorating Andrew Wood’s musical career in 2005 by director Scot Barbour entitled, Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story. The film premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival followed by FAIF Film Festival in Hollywood, California in the same year. The film was released in 2011 on DVD as part of a 2CD+DVD set entitled Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story including the Return to Olympus album, a bonus CD including many interviews and demos and the movie on the DVD disc.