Morphine: Journey of Dreams

Boston trio Morphine was a minor band with a major sound: a bleary, bottom-heavy inversion of postpunk into lounge jazz that showcased Dana Colley’s itchy, croaking sax and Mark Sandman’s distinctive slide work on a two-string bass guitar. The group arrived in the early 90s, when neonoir like Twin Peaks and Reservoir Dogs was all the rage, and managed to score some radio airplay and MTV exposure despite the dominance of gr­unge­, but Morphine never developed a large mainstream fan base. Director Mark Shuman is so enamored with his subject that he blames the band’s commercial failure on record labels and dim-witted radio listeners, though Sandman and crew never lived up to the promise of their dusky and elegiac sophomore album, Cure for Pain (1993). Exhaustive and lively, this also approaches hagiography; newcomers will learn plenty about Morphine but may be disappointed if they seek out all the band’s music.