The Wrecking Crew
Directed by Denny Tedesco
Starring Lou Adler, Herb Alpert, Hal Blaine, Sonny Bono and James Burton
A celebration of the musical work of a group of session musicians known as "The Wrecking Crew", a band that provided back-up instrumentals to such legendary recording artists as Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and Bing Crosby.
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★★★½ review by fourstarfilmfan on Letterboxd
If you have any appreciation for music, especially 1960s rock/pop, you need to go see this right now. It's not a fantastic documentary per se but the anecdotes and music alone make it wholly worthwhile. The Wrecking Crew deserve a lot more attention than they have received over the years. I learned to appreciate names like Hal Blaine, Tommy Tedesco, Carol Kaye, and of course Glen Campbell.
If this one tickles your interest then you should also check out Standing in the Shadow of Motown about the Funk Brothers, another music making machine in their own right.
★★★★ review by RetroHound on Letterboxd
Great music doc on Los Angeles studio musicians. There wasn't a set group called The Wrecking Crew, but a large stable of musicians that were later given the name. They played on everything, rock and roll, Sinatra-style standards, Henry Mancini... Even bands that mostly played their own instruments on stage, when the hit songs were recorded, the producers called in the best musicians to put it on tape and make it a hit.
There was a variety of responses to this from the musicians on both sides, and memory has made some stories opposites. One producer said he told the studio musician to put his name on it, but the studio musician didn't want to be known for playing that kind of music (many were into jazz and only played the rock stuff to pay the bills), but the musician was talking about the same song and complaining that it was a huge hit and his name is nowhere on it. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. It could be that bitterness built up as the song has been a staple for decades now, and he gets no royalties at all.
Another thing mentioned by some of the Black musicians is how they would get used in the studio and then they create a touring band of White musicians to go on the road as the band. I have no doubt that is true.
Overall, the story of a pretty interesting group of folks in a pretty interesting time.
★★★½ review by Kyle on Letterboxd
Like a lot of music docs this has a great soundtrack, but unlike others, the sound track is so huge with varied styles and artists for a couple of decades. The wrecking crew probably played on your favorite songs from the 60's and 70's.
It was fun to see their story. Unfortunately there are so many of them that it's hard to keep up and figure out who is talking about who and who did what. It's like jumping in to an episode of Game of Thrones in the middle of a season. Wait, who is that guy, what did he do? Lot of respect to Brian Wilson. Had no idea how talented he was. Need to dig into that more.
★★★½ review by Rick D on Letterboxd
A sweet documentary featuring a group of superstar musicians who created the sounds of the 60's but went unheralded outside of the industry.
I was surprised to find out that many of the songs I love were created by these musicians.
Great interviews, music and photos make this a fun watch.
★★★½ review by Ken Rudolph on Letterboxd
[Seen and reviewed at a film festival in 2008]
The director's father, Tommy Tedesco, was a great guitar player who was part of a group of relatively unknown studio musicians called the "Wrecking Crew" which backed up most of the really great L.A. rock and pop groups of the 1960's through the mid-80's. Such groups as the Beach Boys, the Association, the Mamas and the Papas used them; plus they made up the backbone of Phil Spector's wall of sound. This documentary is a tribute to these men (and one woman), using interviews with many of those still alive plus generous portions of the songs they helped produce. This was my era of music...I don't think there was one song here that I didn't know and that didn't provide the sound track of my life. Plus all this happened within a mile of where I lived and worked (and even was a peripheral participant in this scene as a music video editor and filmmaker). So for me, this was a fascinating evocation of a part of the music industry that I was only dimly aware of at the time. The film was emotionally satisfying, to say the least; but as a documentary film it was rather straightforward and broke no new ground.
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