The Wrecking Crew Blu-ray Review
Blame it on the Monkees! Until they hit the musical scene, via their popular television show, it was pretty much assumed that most bands played their own instruments. While Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork were fine musicians, the only time they were needed in the recording was to sing. It wasn’t until their third album, “Headquarters,” that the boys all played instruments on their records, tired of being the 1960s equivalent of Milli Vanilli.
But what the public didn’t know is that, despite bands like the Beach Boys having competent musicians, a lot of their albums were recorded with a group of Los Angeles session musicians collectively known as the Wrecking Crew.
I could list a hundred popular songs here that you would surely recognize and that wouldn’t be a tenth of the music created by such great session people as Hal Blaine (drums), Carol Kaye (bass) and guitarist extraordinaire’ Tommy Tedesco, whose son, Denny, developed this film as a tribute to his father. Consisting of anywhere from 15-30 people, the Wrecking Crew provided musical support to everyone from Frank Sinatra to Frank Zappa, and many, many more in between. Though the Beach Boys boasted such musicians as drummer Dennis Wilson and guitarist Al Jardine, their iconic album, “Pet Sounds,” is a combination of the genius of Brian Wilson and the musical life-blood of the Crew. You may never have heard of the three musicians I named above, but you surely know Glen Campbell and Leon Russell. Both of them were part of the Crew in the 1960s before finding success as solo acts. And, when Campbell successfully began his solo musical career, he made sure that the Crew played on his albums.
The interviews featured are enlightening, from music industry people like producers Lou Adler and Snuff Garrett, “American Bandstand” host Dick Clark, and a host of people who owe their careers in part to the work of the Crew, including Cher, Gary Lewis, Nancy Sinatra, and Jackie Deshannon. Interviews with the members of the Crew also make this film a must see. Hal Blaine is often regarded as the most recorded drummer of all time, having played on more than 40 #1 hits as well as 7 songs that went on to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.
Rare, behind the scenes footage of such seminal recording sessions as “Pet Sounds” and Phil Spector’s “Christmas Album,” take you back to a simpler time when rock and roll was truly here to stay. Add to this the various contributions these musicians made to their respective recordings and you have a film you will want to watch again and crank up the volume!
Video: Presented in a 1:787.1 aspect ratio, the picture is sharp and clear. Even a lot of the archival footage stands out. There is some visible tape wear during a few guitar tutelages by Tommy Tedesco but not enough to distract.
Audio: The soundtrack is delivered in DTS- Master Audio 5.1 and is amazing. Every drum beat, every guitar lick, every bass line is sweet and clear.
The extras here are amazing:
There are three separate chapters here, all with some great stories. To include them all in the finished film would have made for a movie longer than GONE WITH THE WIND but it’s a treat to see them here.
Songs (59:28): The musicians talk about the songs they played on and the stories behind them, including the errors made that helped make some songs hits.
Themes (36:48): Stories abound about working with various producers, including Phil Spector, whose “Wall of Sound” is still debated by some.
Musician Jokes (6:24): Some of the best one-liners ever uttered by musicians.
Also included are eight featurettes featuring the Crew, broken down by what their instrument of choice was:
Reel of Song Credits (2:51): No wonder some of these people have in excess of 150 Gold records.
Donors (7:29): A list of people that donated to the film’s Kickstarter campaign.