My February 2013 film column for Maximum Rock N Roll. Originally appeared in issue 357.
LAY IT DOWN CLOWN
It is an interesting idea - a band documentary that does not include any music from the band or any interviews with any band member. Band members can be notoriously difficult. There is always the inevitability of rewriting history through the rosy glow of nostalgia. Music rights are never cheap. Will it work? I had to know.
Color Me Obsessed - A Film About The Replacements takes on that ambitious premise. I am routing for the concept to work. In an ideal world the only reason for a band to reunite is for the fans. Of course, I know that is never really the reason. Bands break up, stop speaking, members die, whatever, but the music continues to exist and people continually discover it. I never really blame a person who discovers an album ten years after its release for wanting to hear it performed live. You just have to know going in that it will never be the way it was originally.
Color Me Obsessed - A Film About The Replacements is all about the fans. Some were there when the band formed. Some came to the music later. Some knew the band personally. Some speculated from afar. Some saw the band live. Some never saw them. Yet, they all have a story to tell. This film is more the story of the people who listen to the music than the people who made it. It is a good thing.
The Replacements formed in 1979 in Minneapolis, MN. They released seven albums before their break up in 1991. Hearing the band's story through the eyes of the fans gives a different insight into the history. A person could remember something one way and another recalls it the opposite way. All points of view are presented. Who is correct? Does it matter? There is probably no way to know for sure. Then again the band could even have another recollection.
There are some good stories. The intro for "Stink" where the police bust up the party was recorded by Terry Katzman who was recording the bands and had the foresight to press play before the police stepped up to the microphone. The namesake of Tim was the lead singer of Duck Kicking Vulture who passed out during his band's set at a party. Guitarist Bob Stinson wanted to finish a pinball game even though the band had already started playing without him. Paul Westerberg taunting heckling punks with a twenty minute drum rendition of "Louie Louie". Of course, who knows what is true and what is remembered as true. That's the fun of Color Me Obsessed - A Film About The Replacements.
The only facts presented in Color Me Obsessed - A Film About The Replacements are each album's sales stats and the rating Village Voice critic Robert Christgau gave the record. Also pointed out are the top selling record of the year. While I know this is to put into perspective how underappreciated The Replacements were by the majority of the public, those facts mean little to me. Either I like the music or I don't. If more people bought Synchronicity than bought "Hootenanny" in 1983, it doesn't bother me too much. It just reinforces my opinion that most people have bad taste.
By the time talk turns to discussing The Replacements' appearance on Saturday Night Live (in 1986, past the halfway point of the documentary) I just want to hear some of the band's music. I am fed up with listening to people I mostly don't care about rambling on with their impressions of the band. I want to hear it for myself. This is when the film goes down. I know the music. I've seen the band live four times. I never needed to know that the creator of the TV show One Tree Hill thinks getting kicked off Saturday Night Live is a punk thing to do.
Also at this point I start paying more attention to the interview backgrounds, undoubtedly because I have become bored of listening to the never-ending opinions about The Replacements. There are so many locales I assume the interviewee is responsible for where they are interviewed. There are the inevitable ones at a rock club or a bar. Some are on sofas with or without pets. However I enjoy the ones where it looks like the subject is sitting in his/her grandmother's living room on a chair with flowery upholstery and ruffled curtains. Jack Rabid sitting next to a piano in what also looks like his grandmother's house is pretty funny too.
The DVD for Color Me Obsessed - A Film About The Replacements contains two discs. The first includes the documentary along with a bunch of deleted scenes and commentary from the director Gorman Bechard and producer Jan Radder. The second disc is superfluous. It contains a "behind the scenes" with the director and producer which is basically an hour and sixteen minute interview about the film. There are also extended interviews with Husker Du drummer Grant Hart and rock critics Greg Kot, Jim Derogatis and Robert Christgau. These are over three hours long just in case you hadn't already had enough of expounding on The Replacements. Plus there are film trailers.
While I like the premise of Color Me Obsessed - A Film About The Replacements, the film lives up to its title by getting very obsessive and overanalyzing every aspect of the band's history. The film should have been half the length. I can't imagine anyone who is not already familiar with The Replacement's music wanting to discover more about the band after watching this. Even though everyone interviewed is obviously into the band, it is a hard sell without any music. mvdvisual.com
I am always looking for films to review. If you made one, send a copy to Carolyn Keddy c/o Maximumrocknroll, PO Box 460760, San Francisco, CA 94146-0760. If your film is playing in the San Francisco Bay Area, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will go see it.