THE WRECKING CREW (2015)
Featuring Brian Wilson, Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Tommy Tedesco, Hal Blaine, Don Randi, Carol Kaye, Joe Osborn, Earl Palmer, Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, Herb Alpert, Roger McGuinn, Dick Clark, Jimmy Webb, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Bones Howe, Lou Adler, H.B. Barnum, Al Casey, Snuff Garrett, Larry Knechtel, Larry Levine, Lew McCreary, Bill Pittman, Carmy Tedesco and Denny Tedesco and archival footage of The Association, Chuck Barris, The Beach Boys, Sonny Bono, James Burton, Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis Jr., Jerry Dunphy, Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Tommy Tedesco, Hal Blaine, Don Randi, Carol Kaye, Joe Osborn, Earl Palmer, Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, Herb Alpert, Roger McGuinn, Dick Clark, Jimmy Webb, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Bones Howe, Lou Adler, H.B. Barnum, Al Casey, Snuff Garrett, Larry Knechtel, Larry Levine, Lew McCreary, Al Jardine, Davy Jones, Barney Kessel, Kurt Loder, Mike Love, Dean Martin, The Monkees, Ricky Nelson, Mike Nesmith, Don Peake, Howard A. Roberts, Frank Sinatra, Phil Spector, Ronnie Spector, Julius Wechter, Adam West, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson and Frank Zappa.
Directed by Denny Tedesco.
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures. 95 minutes. Rated PG.
History is littered with great men who never quite receive recognition for their contributions to society. Whether in science, politics, philanthropy, athletics, or the arts, many of the most influential movers and shakers are content to stay behind the scenes and toil away in obscurity.
Take The Wrecking Crew.
Most people who are not involved in the music business have never heard of the Wrecking Crew. And yet, you’ve been listening to their work all of your life.
The Wrecking Crew was a group of musicians who worked together to perform the soundtrack of a generation. They weren’t even really an official band, per se, more an often-shifting collective of studio musicians who worked together on some of the biggest hits of the 50s, 60 and 70s.
The members mostly have names that are completely obscure to everyone except for the biggest music geeks – names like Tommy Tedesco, Joe Osborn, Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Don Randi, Mike Melvoin, Plas Johnson, Earl Palmer, James Burton and many others. Occasionally one of the members would go on to greater stardom – Glen Campbell got his start as a member of The Wrecking Crew, as did Leon Russell – but mostly they worked best in the background, putting their own particular stamp on musical history.
The Wrecking Crew could play anything: rock and roll, R&B, country, jazz, classical. They often did TV theme songs or movie background music. Anything or everything, they were up for it. They were artists, they were craftsmen, they were the best in the business. And their music was so ubiquitous in popular music for a generation that often they didn’t even get album credit, because record execs were afraid of people seeing the same names on just about every song being released.
Take a gander at some of the songs that members of The Wrecking Crew played on. And believe me, this is just a small, small sampling. “Good Vibrations.” “Strangers in the Night.” “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” “Be My Baby.” “ABC.” “Twisting the Night Away.” “Mr. Tambourine Man.” “California Dreaming.” “A Taste of Honey.” “The Theme From Bonanza.” “(They Long To Be) Close To You.” “I Got You Babe.” “This Diamond Ring.” “I Think I Love You.” “The Pink Panther Theme.” “River Deep, Mountain High.” “This Guy Is In Love With You.” “California Girls.” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.” “Annie’s Song.” “Love Will Keep Us Together.”
Like I said, that was just a small sampling. Drummer Hal Blaine, for example, played on six straight song of the year Grammy winners. And they never got any credit for their work. Until now.
The Wrecking Crew is a good companion piece to the Best Documentary-winning Twenty Feet From Stardom from a couple of years ago. Like that film, it gives names and faces to some of the greatest musical artists of a generation.
It is a labor of love long in the works by director Denny Tedesco, son of Tommy Tedesco, one of the best unknown guitarists ever. Denny grew up a normal kid who had no idea the huge impact his dad had on pop culture. He just thought he was another working dad, like a doctor or a plumber, who went in to work and then came home.
Denny Tedesco started the film with a filmed summit with his dad and a few other of the Wrecking Crew mainstays soon after his father learned that he was extremely ill. (Tommy died of lung cancer in 1997.) Over the years the film has grown exponentially and deepened, not only celebrating Tedesco’s life but a whole host of forgotten artists and giving a snapshot of a musical world that has passed us by.
For anyone who has even a passing interest in the pop culture of the 20th century, The Wrecking Crew is an unexpected treat.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 13, 2015.