Color Me Obsessed
Starring: a bunch of Replacements fans
Directed by Gorman Bechard
Julien Temple’s year 2000 Sex Pistols documentary The Filth & The Fury is artistically notable in that it refuses to show the band members in present day, cloaking their physical wear and tear in literal shadows and only allowing the Pistols to be seen via 1970s news footage and home movies. Gorman Bechard goes a few steps further with his Replacements narrative Color Me Obsessed—the old bird doesn’t show any photos or movies of the band at all (save the final frames of the movie). Bechard also doesn’t use any of the Replacements’ music, instead allowing the entire story of these ramshackle indie rock pioneers to be told via the talking heads of fans and friends. It’s an odd gambit but one fitting of the Mats who are, in fact, one of the last rock groups to have a legend cushioned by endless too-good-to-be-true second hand anecdotes that remain unverifiable thanks to their existence in a pre-Internet age.
Yes, upon the release of their landmark third album Let It Be, the Replacements attempted to erase their first two albums from history by throwing what they thought were the master tapes of those records into the Mississippi River. No, humble guitarist Bob Stinson did not tell his future wife Carleen about his successful underground rock group, introducing himself to her as a mere pizza cook. Yes, Tupac Shakur was horrified when Tom Arnold told him the Replacements had been banned from “Saturday Night Live” for defecating in a cooler backstage and sending it to the first floor of 30 Rockefeller Center. No, no one can agree which Replacements album sucks more, Don’t Tell a Soul or All Shook Down. Yes, Matt Pinfield is as annoying as you remember him.
It’s hard to say how effective or captivating Color Me Obsessed would be to the strange alien who’d never heard a lick of Replacements music. There is certainly a linear tale here, no different than if a group of bar flies were piecing together a tall tale for you, and the emotion behind the testimonials will surely pique some virgin’s interest in tracking down a worn vinyl copy of Hootenanny. For those of us already enraptured by the tough but tender “aw shucks” songwriting of Westerberg and Co. this doc is required viewing, if only for reassurance that their are plenty of other schlubby white folks out there still gritting their teeth to “Hayday” and “Bastards of Young.”
FINAL SCORE: Three raspy former MTV veejays (out of four).
From the mealy mouth of Replacements singer Paul Westerberg (left) comes news that the group’s founding drummer Chris Mars “really didn’t want any part” of the band’s September reunion to record an EP of covers for the financial benefit of ailing guitarist Slim Dunlop. Dunlop was partially felled by a cerebral artery stroke in February; Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson decided to reform the ‘Mats last month to help their ill friend. Quoteth Pauly O on the drummer sitch:
I was not surprised, but I was a little disappointed. I’d talked to [Chris], I thought maybe he might come down and play with us. That’s fine, he’s totally into painting, and doesn’t want to return to the skins.”
Is Mars still miffed they scrapped most of his work in favor of session drumming for that last Replacements album he was on, Don’t Tell a Soul? Who knows, maybe there’s something else going on (whatever the issue, it appears related to the guy’s former instrument—the last time the Place Mats reassembled, for two new tracks tacked onto the 2006 greatest hits release Don’t You Know Who I Think I Was?, they had to hire freelance drum god Josh Freese ’cause Chris only wanted to sing).
At any rate, that aforelinked Rolling Stone chat with Westerberg is a great reminder of the deft voice rock music’s been missing since Westy’s semi-retirement. Also, please note Paul’s reaction to Color Me Obsessed, the ‘Mats documentary currently farting about the festival circuit:
I recognized most of the people, and some of them I thought, How dare you, you shameful so and so? Why don’t you get a life? I was embarrassed by it more than anything, I guess. Wouldn’t you be, if a movie described every little intricate thing about your life? That thing, the R band, the ‘Mats, they don’t even really belong to us anymore.”
The four song Replacements reunion EP comes out later this year on ten inch vinyl (limited edition, of course) that will be auctioned off online. Just like the old days!