The Wrecking Crew is the brilliant new(ish) documentary from filmmaker Denny Tedesco; it’s a labor of love and small wonder – his late father Tommy was the brilliant guitarist who played in this incredible collective. For those who really don’t know, “The Wrecking Crew” was the nickname coined by drummer Hal Blaine for the group of studio/session musicians who played – often with no credit – on many recording sessions/releases during the ’60’s that came out of Los Angeles. This “dream group” backed a countless number of popular singers – and became the studio version of many well-known bands – and are easily one, if not the single most successful groups of studio musicians in history. What made The Wrecking Crew’s so special, as you quickly learn in the movie, is that they were musically versatile even though most came from a background of either jazz or classical training. This group, which was referred to as “first call” players were used on literally every style of recording – not just pop records but television theme songs, film scores and ad jingles. They did it all. They were the players behind The Beach Boys’ revered Pet Sounds; they were the crisp outfit behind The Byrds’ debut single “Mr. Tambourine Man”, they were the “Wall Of Sound” created for Phil Spector’s landmark productions during the early ’60’s.
Speaking to an endless and wonderfully engaging group of music stars from the era – including Cher, Micky Dolenz, Roger McGuinn, Brian Wilson, Gary Lewis, Nancy Sinatra, etc. – the memories are vivid; the excitement of the time and thrill of being able to work with these musicians is conveyed clearly and it’s an entertaining and fascinating document. Hearing from the players themselves – Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Glen Campbell, Plas Johnson, Don Randi, etc. – you can easily understand, especially in hindsight, what a special time and group of musicians this was. Most importantly, you get to hear a stream of songs that as different as they all are, have stood the test of time beautifully.
Many more of The Wrecking Crew have died since the film was first shot, so this fits as a wonderful testimonial for the finest group of musicians ever assembled at one time. Denny Tedesco has done a terrific job with this and one can only hope many, many people will see and marvel over this aural time capsure.
*The Wrecking Crew can be seen on pay-per-view video