Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Wrecking Crew review

Today I went to see the documentary The Wrecking Crew at the Bloor Cinema in downtown Toronto. Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time will know that I like music documentaries. Standing in The Shadows Of Motown is about The Funk Brothers who played on all the Motown hits. Muscle Shoals is about the Alabama musicians who played on plenty of hits. The Wrecking crew is a similar story of Los Angeles studio musicians who played on many hits of the 60s. What they all have in common is you haven't heard of these musicians but you have heard them. The film will be a revelation for the average music fan. I've known about The Wrecking Crew for years but I enjoyed seeing them get the spotlight. The film was directed by Danny Tedesco. His dad was Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco. The Wrecking Crew started out as a generational thing. Studio musicians of the 50s were very stiff and formal. Most of them were classically trained. A lot of the younger musicians were jazz musicians. The guy who probably deserved a lot of the credit for making The Wrecking Crew ubiquitous in Los Angeles recording studios was producer Phil Spector. They were on all his records but never got any credit. Record companies didn't want fans to know that rock groups didn't play their own music. This changed in the late 60s when The Monkees demanded to play on their own records. After that the use of studio musicians in Los Angeles became less common though many of them did film and TV work. We meet many of the musicians including bassists Carol Kaye and Joe Osborn, drummers Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer, guitarists Al Casey and Tommy Tedesco, pianist Don Randi and sax player Plas Johnson. The best known members of The Wrecking Crew were Glen Campbell and Leon Russell. There are archival interviews. The musicians credit producer H.B. Barnum as the first to give them a chance. Other interviews include Herb Alpert, Lou Adler. Cher, Dick Clark, Mickey Dolenz, Nancy Sinatra, Jimmy Webb and Brian Wilson. Wilson talks in detail about why he used The Wrecking Crew on records instead of The Beach Boys. Adler talks about using The Wrecking Crew on The Mamas and the Papas. He also said that in the 70s, singer songwriters like Carole King brought their own musicians so studio musicians weren't needed anymore. Some of the musicians show how they invented some of your favourite songs. Though it didn't surprise me, I think the scope of The Wrecking Crew's influence will surprise fans. They played on all these records? They certainly did. I enjoy these kind of music history docs so I loved it. Check out the trailer.

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