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Stunning documentary that's long overdue
larry-41119 March 2008
Imagine if every hit song of the late 50s, 60s, 70s, and even into the 80s was performed by one band. Ridiculous, huh? Well, guess what? It's closer to reality than you may think. I attended the World Premiere of "The Wrecking Crew" at the 2008 SXSW Film Festival and I was so moved by it that it's hard to contain my enthusiasm for this stunning documentary.

Denny Tedesco chronicles the musical history laid down by his legendary late father Tommy, as well as Hal Blaine and Don Randi (who were present for a Q&A afterward), Carol Kaye, Al Casey, Earl Palmer, Plas Johnson, Joe Osborn, and the dozens of others who sat in on the recordings. Known informally as The Wrecking Crew, these session musicians played on so many hit songs that it could be said they had a larger role to play in the culture of the last 50 years than any other group of people in the world. You may not have heard their names, but you've heard their music.

The list of artists whose songs they backed up is amazing: The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Association, Glen Campbell, The Mamas & Papas, The Monkees, Richard Harris, The 5th Dimension, Sam Cooke, Sonny and Cher, Captain and Tennille, The Righteous Brothers, Simon and Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Ike and Tina Turner, Nancy Sinatra, The Carpenters, Tommy Roe, The Ronettes, Paul Revere and The Raiders, and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, to name a few. The Wrecking Crew played on almost all their hit songs. To look at the list is to hear the soundtrack of your life, whether you're 15 or 85 -- you know these songs.

"The Wrecking Crew" was so lovingly made. And the fact that Tedesco got the clearances which gave him the rights to include the music in the film is a tribute to the industry's love and respect for these musicians. It goes without saying that the soundtrack is, without a doubt, the greatest of any film I've ever seen. It has to be, after all. These are the songs we've been listening to fondly for 50 years. I had the chance to sit down with Blaine and Randi after the screening and hear some of their incredible stories. For example, not only are both in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but their contribution to Grammy history is groundbreaking. Blaine played on seven Records of the Year, including an incredible run of six in a row back in the 1960s. That would be unheard of today. It's a feat that was never equaled, not before or since.

No matter what your age, if you have ever listened to music I can guarantee you "The Wrecking Crew" will touch you as few films have. To say that this film is long overdue would be an incredible understatement. It's hard to imagine anyone alive today who hasn't been affected by the people who are profiled in this documentary. There's even a good chance you wouldn't be here if not for the music of The Wrecking Crew. Ponder that.
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The TRUE stars of 60's rock & roll
caraisin4 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Secrecy, deception, lies, conspiracies, aliases, big money, celebrity careers and reputations constantly on the line.....

With plot elements such as these built in, the story of The Wrecking Crew had the potential to be Oliver Stone-d to the realm of the Twilight Zone by veering off into absurd theories. As a documentary, it also had the potential to bore viewers into unconsciousness with excessive facts and figures. Or, thankfully, it had the potential to be what it is: ninety-five thoroughly enjoyable minutes of getting acquainted with people you thought you knew, but were actually others who you may have never heard of.

Confused? That is exactly what, for decades, the music industry executives and most of their star performers wanted you to be. We were intentionally misled into accepting that all credit for what we listened to and purchased in the form of vinyl discs with holes in the center was entirely the work of those whose names appeared on the record labels. Unless you moved in certain circles or had access to the right sources, you had no idea how far from the truth you were.

In the late 1950's rock and roll music caught on and consumer tastes changed. With money to be made, record labels sought to crank out the greatest amount of product for the least amount of investment. That meant using musicians who could deliver quality recordings within a minimum of studio time.

Most of the established studio musicians either could not or would not work for rock and roll sessions. This opened the door for the new breed of studio players who began arriving in Los Angeles around that time. Being less formal and eager to play anything (even rock and roll!), the status quo was convinced that these new people were destined to wreck the music business. The Wrecking Crew name stuck, and so did the new musicians.

From the late '50's into the 70's, Wrecking Crew personnel provided instrumental tracks for just about every hit song that was recorded in L.A. The list of Wrecking Crew-driven hits and number ones on the charts is huge! And with each gold record, their individual and collective reputations soared higher and higher.

They were the machine that all but guaranteed success for recording artists, and the producers of rock/pop stars knew that. Wrecking Crew members got the majority of calls for studio sessions, not only for records, but also for television and movie soundtracks and commercial jingles. They even recorded instrumental songs of their own (under fictitious names) that charted, and bands were later recruited to do these tunes at live shows and accept credit for the Wrecking Crew's work.

Fast forward to the late 1990's. Tommy Tedesco, an extraordinary guitarist who had been one of those upstart musicians, was diagnosed with cancer. Denny Tedesco, his son whose own skills lay in the film industry, embarked on a mission to accurately document the astounding, yet unsung, contributions that his father and coworkers made in supplying the "soundtrack of our lives." It was a quest that took years to complete.

The Wrecking Crew was never an organized band; they were individuals who trickled into the L.A. music studios between the late '50's and mid 60's. The number of those who should be counted as Crew members has been estimated at up to two dozen. They covered the typical instruments heard on rock records: guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, horns, and other percussion. Many played multiple instruments. While the Wrecking Crew alumni identified in the film may be mostly unknown to the general public, you might recognize some names. Besides Tommy Tedesco, they include: Carol Kaye, Joe Osborn, Julius Wechter, Leon Russell, Billy Strange, Glen Campbell, Earl Palmer, Al Casey, Plas Johnson, Steve Douglas, Don Randi, Larry Knechtel, Don Peake, Bill Pitman, and Hal Blaine.

Playing music was how they earned a living, while those they backed frequently became stars and household names. They often worked long shifts and odd hours, mostly for scale. Yet, they were the right people, at the right place, at the right time. We are the beneficiaries of their skill, talent, intuition, creativity, and camaraderie, plus a love and passion for what they were doing.

I am not going to tell you the whole story, I am going to urge you to see this film. Denny Tedesco has assembled a phenomenal tribute to his late father and the Wrecking Crew. Told through archival footage, still photos, interviews, and (of course) the music itself, the film has just enough historical data, just enough humor, and just enough pathos. As good as it is, the forthcoming DVD with added outtakes should be that much better.

After viewing this film, you will likely find yourself listening to these songs in a way you never have before. Denny Tedesco has succeeded in preserving important details in the history of modern American popular music with this wonderfully entertaining film.
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Amazing And Long Overdue...
DJKenHeath9 February 2011
Denny Tedesco has captured an era that will never be duplicated in musical history with personal insights and an unconditional love that only a child of music could accomplish.

I was fortunate enough to see it at a press screening at the NAMM convention 2011, this documentary deserves to be seen by everyone who's ever listened to the music of the 60's & 70's... go to the website and buy a shirt or something so they can finally pay the royalties and get cleared to release the DVD to the public!

The interviews and personal anecdotes bring out secrets and nuances that would've been lost to the world if not for this documentary, it will surely open the eyes of the general public about how the music industry and specifically the hit-making-machine works. These virtually unknown musicians were geniuses in their fields and contributed more to our culture than some of the "stars" they played behind!

For someone like me who's earliest recollections in life involved this music, watching this documentary was a deeply moving experience. A magical glimpse into a secret place where I was privy to the behind-the-scenes labors and commeraderie of greatness.

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Good Vibrations
ferguson-615 March 2015
Greetings again from the darkness. The music business has always been a bit of a mystery – not just to the average record buyer, but even to those within the industry. History is filled with singers, band members, and songwriters missing out on the pot of gold due to slick legal maneuvering from some less-than-upstanding agent, producer or label. This documentary details the prolific recordings from a core group of studio musicians responsible for the sounds heard as rock and roll music exploded on the scene … their stellar performances marketed to the public as the work of popular bands.

Lest you think this is limited to an obscure genre or style of music, the two dozen (or so) musicians known as The Wrecking Crew were responsible for the album music for such groups and performers as The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, The Righteous Brothers, Elvis Presley, The Mamas and the Papas, Sonny and Cher, Sam Cooke, The Byrds, and The Monkees. And we can't leave out Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" which dominated the charts for years. Director Denny Tedesco set out to make a documentary short about his father, guitarist extraordinaire Tommy Tedesco, but quickly realized the story was much bigger than just his dad.

In addition to the very talented (and funny) Tedesco, we get interviews with such talented musicians as Hal Blaine, Earl Palmer, Don Randi, Al Casey, Pals Johnson (The Pink Panther sax soloist), Carol Kaye, and Bill Pittman. There is also insight from producers Lou Adler and Snuff Garrett, American Bandstand's Dick Clark, songwriter Jimmy Webb, plus icon Herb Alpert. Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork explain the business rationale in having the professionals take care of the recordings, while Roger McGinnis spills the beans that other members of The Byrds (including David Crosby) were pretty miffed at the process.

The personal importance of telling this story is quite obvious in the work of the director, and is especially clear in the segments featuring his father. In addition to the popular music he was involved with, the senior Tedesco's work is heard in such well-known TV themes as Bonanza, MASH, Batman, and The Twilight Zone … plus many movie scores. Archival footage is available for Q&A roundtables and some of the seminar work Tedesco did in the later stages of his career (he passed away in 1997). There is also footage of Phil Spector working in the studio, and some audio from Frank Sinatra as he works on recording, and early Brian Wilson creating the magic of Pet Sounds with the Wrecking Crew.

Glen Campbell and Leon Russell are the two big breakout performers from this group of studio musicians and both speak so highly of these unpublicized artists. Their interviews, and that of Dick Clark, highlight the confusion of timeline in the making of the film. It began making festival rounds in 2008 before running the age old issue of "musical rights" brought distribution to a screeching halt. So now, in 2015, the film is finally getting some theatre time, and with it comes the recognition and appreciation that is long overdue for the members of this very secret club … few of whom seem to hold any type of grudge. They were just happy to make a living doing what they love.

This film instantly becomes one of four documentaries highly recommended for those who want to better understand the music biz. Group it with Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002), Muscle Shoals (2013), and Oscar winner Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013) to form an 8 hour education and history of popular music over the past three generations.

**NOTE: Kent Hartman released a book entitled "The Wrecking Crew" that provides additional detail; however, it is not affiliated with Denny Tedesco's film.
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You'll Have A Good Time
johno-2114 February 2012
I saw this at a special screening last year in Palm Springs. Director Denny Tedesco was on hand for an audience Q&A following the film with Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine. Also on hand at the screening were Wrecking Crew guitarist Bill Pitman and movie mogul Jerry Weintraub. This film was conceived by director Tedesco as a 30 minute documentary featuring four of the members of LA's legendary studio musicians known as "The Wrecking Crew." Dozens of key musicians made up the crew during the decade of the 1960's as they provided the music for almost all the legendary recordings coming out of the Los Angeles recording studios during that wonderful era of music history. Tedesco arranged a round table discussion of their remembrances of that time with his father, guitarist Tommy Tedesco and fellow recording sidemen and women Carol Kaye, Plas Johnson and Hal Blaine. One thing leads to another and Tedesco found so much material was being covered that he needed to expand further and include more interviews with other musicians. This led to more archival interviews to supplement that, more music to add to the soundtrack and archival footage on film and from stills. This turned into a delightfully entertaining and thoroughly informative documentary that is a must see for anyone weather they lived in that decade or not because the songs live on are the part of the soundtrack of America itself. Look for interviews by Herb Alpert, Dick Clark, Cher, Glen Campbell, Frank Zappa, Nancy Sinatra, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, Jimmy Webb, Bones Howe, Snuff Garett, Larry Knechtel, Lew McCreary, Larry Levine, Don Randi, Bill Pitman, Joe Osborne, Julius Wechter, H.B. Barnum, Lou Adler, Al Casey, Brian Wilson, Earl Palmer and many more. A monumental soundtrack featuring over 100 1960's classics. Micki Stern had the difficult but enjoyable task of Music Supervisor for the film and Bob Branow was the sound re-recording mixer. Denny Tedesco directs with cinematography by Trish Govoni, Rodney Taylor and Vincent E. Toto. Claire Scanlon does a masterful job of editing all this material. Just a wonderful film and a must see. As a documentary I would give this a 10 out of 10 and highly recommend it. You'll have a good time.
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Fascinating Documentary with Unbelievable Soundtrack
FilmRap17 September 2010
If you are an aficionado of music between the 50s and late 80s early 90s you will find this a fascinating documentary. It is the story of studio musicians who did most of the playing for the recordings of some of the great groups of this time period. The film is lovingly put together by Denny Tedesco and includes a particular focus on Tommy Tedesco who is his father and who recently died after having participated in interviews for this film with many other of these great musicians. You probably did not know that just about all the music of Beach Boys was not recorded by them but was played for the records by the musicians affectionately self named " The Wrecking Crew " The film also features Carol Bass who is obviously a great guitar player and is only really known by people in the music business as these musicians did not get any recognition on the albums they recorded. They were financially well paid during this time and have no regrets for their anonymity. There are film clips from many recording sessions including one with Frank Sinatra. Apparently potential distributors have been skeptical that the producer would be able to get the rights to include all the great music that is in this film but he did it as people recognized the historic value of this documentary. The soundtrack is unbelievable and is a concert in to itself and will make a great CD.
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gavin69424 September 2015
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.

Production began in June 1996 and was completed in February 2008. The film played in film festivals in North America, and was the closing film at the Nashville Film Festival on April 24, 2008. A Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2013 raised over three hundred thousand dollars to cover music licensing and final production costs. The film opened in theaters across the United States on March 13, 2015.

I am not clear on what the Oscar rules are. Is this a 2015 film or a 2008 film? I hope it is eligible for Best Documentary. Some are saying it is similar to "20 Feet From Stardom", and I can certainly see that. But I would say this is an even bigger deal. Who knew that so many songs, in so many styles, came from a handful of folks? I will never listen to 1950s or 1960s music the same way again.
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what's behind the soundtrack of my youth
slfisher-229 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Have to agree with the other commenter; this is really a fantastic movie. It's funny, I hadn't even heard of it, and then a few weeks back I was listening to a radio show called Acoustic Cafe and they had Glen Campbell as a guest. Well, I'd loved Glen Campbell as a child, and he mentioned this movie. Then fortunately the Idaho International Film Festival had it.

I grew up during the sixties so I knew and loved all these songs (including the Monkees) and I'd had no idea they were all played by the same people and that they weren't the people on the records.

My former husband told me early on that he'd been trained by Carol Kaye and I went who? so I was really happy to see so much emphasis placed on her.
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"The Wrecking Crew" is Well Played
texshelters28 March 2015
If you have ever heard "Happy Together" by the Turtles, The Byrds "Mr. Tambourine Man", "Day Dream Believer" song by the Monkees, or "Close to You" by the Carpenters, you have heard the group of studio musicians called "The Wrecking Crew." They were regular contributors to hit songs in Los Angeles from about 1958 to 1965. The composition of the Crew varied, but if you lived in Los Angeles and needed bass, drums, guitar, horns or other instruments for your recording, you called on the in The Wrecking Crew.

According to the film, the musicians got the name "Wrecking Crew" from jazz musicians who felt they were "wrecking" music with their rock and pop stylings. Whatever they case, this group of musicians were called if you wanted to record a hit song.

The film features interviews with the players, old footage of them performing together and interviews with musical luminaries such as Cher and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Wilson used The Crew for most of the backing tracks on the seminal album, "Pet Sounds." The crew could read musical scales, take direction, and write parts for the songs if needed. They were flexible and served the client first even if they talked about them behind their back after the session and on camera during the film. And as the film implies, the Crew was responsible for more than one song becoming a hit.

The footage and interviews in the film proves how important these musicians were to popular music of the late 50s and early 60s. In the 60s, bands such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Doors, and so forth, left the Wrecking Crew with fewer jobs, for they had the talent to play their own instruments. Some of the musicians from the Crew, notably father of the director, guitarist Tommy Tedesco, got jobs playing for film soundtracks other records after the studio jobs dried up. Other members went on to record their own records, some even becoming big stars on their own such as Leon Russell and Glen Campbell. Yes, those stars were part of the Crew.

The film shares a unique time of music and a unique set of musicians with us. Watching the film gives us a view of the inner workings of one of the greatest groups of studio musicians in the history of popular music. And it entertains us all the way.

The set and filming is nothing scream and shout about, but the music leaves us with Good Vibrations.

Rating: Pay Full Price.

People who play or like music will enjoy by this film.

Peace, Tex Shelters
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If you're over 60 or a musician, you need to see this
jljacobi2 April 2015
Even if you didn't grow up with the music, you're bound to recognize nearly all of it. And the film is done well enough that you should enjoy it even if the subject matter doesn't fascinate you right off the bat.

I first saw this film as a preview in Alameda when the director was showing it in private screenings to raise the money to pay the royalties. There are a lot of very famous, well-known songs and he was determined to see everyone got paid. After all, it's about a group of studio musicians who worked for a living.

Just saw it again, and it wears extremely well. It's a documentary, and there's naturally there's some nostalgia, but mostly it's a celebration that mirrors the light-hearted spirit of one of the main subjects, the director's father, Tommy Tedesco.

Like I said up front, if you grew up in the 60's or are a musician, it's a must see. For me it's a 9, but I lowered the rating a point as I realize not everyone is going to be as fascinated by the subject matter as I am.
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Famous yet anonymous
moonspinner552 August 2015
First-rate documentary on the evolving group of Los Angeles session musicians self-dubbed The Wrecking Crew who, throughout the 1960s and early '70s, performed mostly without credit on many of the greatest songs in music history. Directed by Denny Tedesco, whose father Tommy was a guitarist in the Crew, this lively, lovely document of the music scene in southern California during rock and roll's heyday is alive with memories and awash in marvelous tunes. Candid interviews with Tommy Tedesco (before his passing), Glen Campbell and Leon Russell (both onetime members of the Crew), drummer Hal Blaine, saxophonist Plas Johnson, bassist Carol Kaye, keyboardist Don Randi, and artists such as Brian Wilson, Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork, Herb Alpert and producer Lou Adler add to the rich experience. A highly entertaining way to get acquainted with these talented musicians, whose music one instantly recognizes yet whose names and faces have heretofore remained anonymous. ***1/2 from ****
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A great insight into the behind the scenes of some of the greatest recordings in music history.
mdroel2012 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The Wrecking Crew chronicles the stories of a wide, ever-changing group of session musicians in the 1950s and 60s that are hailed as some of the greatest musicians of all time. The kicker is that these great artists were never given proper credit for their work. Tedesco mainly focuses and sits down with his late father Tommy and his pals and fellow Wrecking Crew musicians Carol Kaye, Plas Johnson, and Hal Blaine. Together, these musicians recall countless stories from their time in the studio. The essence of this movie is the fact that many popular groups of the times weren't the best of musicians themselves and The Wrecking Crew were the uncredited band behind the music. A few poignant examples feature Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, of The Monkees, and Roger McGuinn of The Byrds speaking at length complementing the sound of these session musicians. Brian Wilson, in creating genius works such as Pet Sounds, recruited The Wrecking Crew because he knew the guys in his band couldn't reproduce the sounds he wanted for the album. McGuinn echoed Wilson's sentiments and recruited the band for the classic Byrds recording Mr. Tambourine Man. Dolenz's story was even more enlightening as he reveals The Monkees were strictly a novelty band whose music was entirely created by The Wrecking Crew musicians. The Monkees themselves were forced to take music lessons in order to replicate the music for the road. Even more revealing, the classic tune, Windy by The Association was entirely performed by The Wrecking Crew, who received no credit and The Association couldn't even play their instruments.

This film shared a lot of parallels in that regard and many other with another Little Theatre special, 20 Feet From Stardom, which I reviewed here. Much like 20 Feet From Stardom, classic tracks and their most memorable parts were created by unknown and uncredited artists. Female bassist, Carol Kaye, left her mark on plenty of hit songs in this fashion. Take, for example, Sonny and Cher's classic, The Beat Goes On. Kaye explains that the original sound had a basic, boring bass lick, which she improved to what you hear on the recording. Kaye's story is also one of the most fascinating because she broke through the boy's club to do such incredible work. The Wrecking Crew also parallels 20 Feet From Stardom for its reference to Phil Spector's legendary "wall of sound" recordings. Spector tapped these session musicians for the majority of his recordings to capture the majestic sound he slaved for. His recordings jump started the careers of the likes of Glen Campbell and Leon Russell.

Campbell's story is crucial to this film, as he was the first session player to break out and become a hit maker in his own right. The country great tapped his old pals to play on his solo debut and future recordings as his popularity grew. At the same time, the notion of the session music began to fade into obscurity, as more bands began recording for themselves. The phone stopped ringing for The Wrecking Crew, though their legacy lives on in this film.

Though film from the era (which is nonexistent for the most part) would have been more engaging for the viewer, The Wrecking Crew is an excellent film and serves as a great piece of music history. Rock critics and musicians rave about this film having the likes of Elvis Costello saying, "A wonderful, touching and hilarious film about the unsung stars of so many records that you carry in your heart." This film is a must see for any music enthusiast. Also, check out the outtakes for some great unused footage!
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Watch this only if you don't mind having your illusions shattered!!
MartinHafer2 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The story of the Wrecking Crew is fascinating, but it's also one that some fans of 1960s music MIGHT not want to see. It's not that the film is bad (it's terrific) but because you learn through the course of the documentary that so many groups you loved at the time really didn't least not like you thought. So, when groups like The Byrds, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and many others traveled the country doing concerts, the actual musicians on their albums were session musicians dubbed 'the Wrecking Crew'! So, when Alpert made a great tune that resulted in instant fame, he needed to find folks willing to travel as his band...and the session musicians didn't want to go because they were so good that they were just too busy working and making lots of money to go on the road!! I thought this was all very interesting though I thought the only groups like these were The Monkees, The Partridge Family and some of the Phil Spector bands. But, this film makes it sound like just about EVERYONE made albums this way--and not just rock, but pop, country and 'old people' tunes of the day!

For me, I didn't mind learning the truth. And, I really loved seeing a lot of the 60s stars as they look today--and the film is a huge star-studded documentary. You'll see the likes of Brian Wilson (who looks much better than he used to since he cleaned up and got properly medicated), Herb Alpert, Cher, Glen Campbell (who was odd because he started as one of these session musicians and later became a top star), Nancy Sinatra and many others appear--and sing the praises of these studio musicians. And, most importantly, you get to not only hear about the musicians...but finally see them! A treat for any child of the 60s but younger whippersnappers might not appreciate it. But being a 50-something guy, I don't care what the young folks think...I just loved watching this film.

By the way, if you do watch a few things to look for: how much Gary Lewis looks like his father (Jerry), how much money some of these studio musicians blew through, some of the sites in Hollywood that are very famous but which most of us have never seen (such as the Capital Records building), a lady musician who was just 'one of the guys', the "Gong Show" clip, the fact that this was a Kickstarter film and much more...
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If you love music, you gotta see this
hewilson2-72-79686815 August 2015
For those of us born in the 40s and 50s, grew up in the 60s and 70s, the background of our lives was a soundtrack these guys created. Every tune you ever hummed, sang or tapped your foot to, these guys played it. Did you like the Monkeys? The Association? The Beach Boys? Glen Campbell? Name your favorite 50s or early 60s group. It was the Wrecking Crew. If you love music, if you play music, if you want to play music...this film is a must see for the history alone. But it is also well filmed and edited. The first person accounts of the musicians are priceless. The stories of the value of hard work and riding the wave while it lasts. Yeah, it's good. Watch it, learn it, love it.
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A must for any one who loves music
george.schmidt22 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
THE WRECKING CREW (2015) **** Fascinating pop culture historical rockdoc focusing on the scary good studio musicians of the 1950s-1970s who helped score the soundtrack of our lives while gaining little to no recognition (or wealth) to speak of as the unsung artists of a Who's Who in rock, R&B and modern day chart rocketing smash hits by superstar talent. Filmmaker Denny Tedesco's nearly 20 year odyssey and valentine to not only his father Tommy and the motley crew making up the titular cast of characters who did what they loved: played music no matter the price in the process. Filled with chock-a-block jukebox memories and archival footage hearkening back to nostalgic glee and timeless tunes. A must see for any fan of music in any shape or form. Fantastic!
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Pop History at its best!!!
kevjfarrell11 March 2016
For anybody who has an interest in the music of the 60's, this is a must-see documentary. This one - along with Standing In The Shadows of Motown - show you the real musical talent behind some of the greatest Pop hits of the 60's. At least with Motown - we knew it was the musicians in the studio that created the sound the sound that we loved to hear on the radio and on our 45's - even if we didn't know the musicians by name.

With the Wrecking Crew, they played the instruments in the studio on so many big Pop hits of the 60's while we watched bands looking as though they played them!! For me, it doesn't detract from how great those songs were then - and now!!! It was surprising to realize that a lot of the Beach Boys hits were created by the Wrecking Crew under the guidance of Brian Wilson while the band were out on the road touring! The anecdotes by several members of these session musicians were very entertaining. I doubt they got paid anywhere near their real worth - but for these guys, it was a labor of love - and as long as they had enough money to pay the bills, that was fine by them.

When you re-visit some of these old hits from the 60's you will listen to them with a different set of ears!!! That intro riff to Wichita Lineman by Carol Kaye is one example. The artistry of all these musicians needs to be recognized and acknowledged - and it is through this documentary.
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Do You Like Good Music?
mekjd10 November 2015
Those who can hear in the mind's ear the rest of the lyrics to the above summary line may find themselves joyful to watch this aggregation of the many major but unsung talents of the pop music explosion of the mid- twentieth stationery. There are interviews with many longtime musicians who played on almost all of the 'hits' of that era, but who went unrecognized and worked anonymously for most of their lives.

This move is an homage to these musicians, who, notwithstanding their anonymity, seemed to enjoy a bond among themselves that was second to none. Many insights are provided on the creation of music that is now part of the soundtrack of our lives.

Truly a labor of love for all involved. For maximum musical edification, I would strongly recommend a double feature, following up with 20 Feet from Stardom.
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Outstanding tribute - Possible spoiler alert
dddmi7-125 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I will try to put into a few words about this tribute to some of the finest studio musicians who ever recorded music on vinyl. Denny Tedesco's diligence, hard work, and love not only for his Father but the other musicians enshrined here shows through on every frame of film. The legacy of these musicians can not be overstated. If you lived in the USA in the 50s, 60s, 70s and into the 1980s you've heard their music, songs, hits, jingles, film soundtracks, and TV themes. They seemed to be everywhere all at once, but mostly anonymous when it came to actual credit on film and the backs of album covers. From Sam Cooke, to the Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, The Monkees, and beyond you heard their riffs, rhymes, and splendid musicianship. As a percussionist I've admired their music without knowing their faces or names (for the most part). Now, thanks to this labor of love I can connect those distant memories with the people who created them. This appears to be more than just a film but a mission for the director and his film company. Purchasing the rights to air the music The Wrecking Crew played is very expensive. Mr. Tedesco needs viewers like the IMDb community to support this film by giving it the high ratings it deserves here on IMDb and on online services like Net flix. Through that support he is able to raise money to keep making improvements by including more and more of the volumes of material this group of professionals created nearly round the clock for 2 full decades. This music may take you back to your teen years, and fill in the spaces as to who actually created the music of your youth.
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A wonderfully informative documentary on the best bunch of session musicians that ever existed
Woodyanders22 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The Wrecking Crew were an elite group of top-notch musicians on the West Coast who reigned supreme as the go-to folks to hire throughout the 1960's. It's astounding the sheer volume of hit songs that they played on that includes everything from "Good Vibrations" by The Beach Boys to "California Dreamin'" by The Mama and the Papas to "The Beat Goes On" by Sonny and Cher. While Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine, Don Randi, Plas Johnson, Joe Osborn, Earl Palmer, and other members of this anonymous, yet illustrious bunch might not have ever achieved household name status, they nonetheless had an important and influential role in the crafting and recording of many classic songs that stands tall as a legacy to be proud of.

Director Danny Tedesco, who's the son of noted Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco, covers plenty of fascinating ground on these extraordinary musicians that includes the origin of their nickname stemming from the fact that they wore casual apparel, their involvement in Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, putting long hours in the studio which for some took a heavy toll on their personal lives, recording stuff for fake bands or bands who didn't know how to play their instruments well (yep, we do indeed get the straight scoop on The Monkees), working sans credit on countless hit records, and how things came to an end once bands became more able to play their own instruments at the end of the 1960's. Best of all, this documentary not only gives the Wrecking Crew their long overdue due, but also serves as a marvelously entertaining and enlightening chronicle of the evolution of rock'n'roll music throughout the 1950's and 1960's. Loaded with terrific behind the scenes footage and further enhanced by a spot-on soundtrack (naturally), this honey rates as a total treat.
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Loved it
grnhair200114 August 2016
As a musician and a woman of a certain age, I nearly worship Carol Kaye as a goddess, and that led me to this film. And while I got a terrific dose of her music and storytelling, I got a lot more than that.

There is nostalgic music, funny people telling great stories, a softening of decades of wisdom to what might have one time been resentment and jealousy and so it's a thoughtful examination of the studio musicians and this moment in history. I really love what was said here about work ethic. The Wrecking Crew worked their butts off, and you don't get anywhere in an art without doing that... And even when you are the best, as they were, you still have a short shelf life.

I enjoy documentary films. While this was not a perfect one, there's so much love here in the making of the movie that I forgave the few shortcomings. And it's a crucial piece of music history.
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A must watch for music fans
eddie_baggins5 June 2016
There's high chance you've never heard of them before, even though you've very likely heard what they do, but the musicians nicknamed The Wrecking Crew are without question some of the most important members of musical history thanks to their extensive collection of works from the late 50's through to the 70's.

Session artists that were like the A-Team of up for hire musicians, The Wrecking Crew were a part of so many pop culture hits and legendary pieces of music that it's highly likely one of your favourite old school songs has a member or two of the crew on it.

From The Beach Boys (whose famed album Pet Sounds was almost entirely recorded with Wrecking Crew members), Frank Sinatra, Glen Campbell (who was himself a member of the Crew before branching out into a solo career), Sonny and Cher, The Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel and the Monkey's are but a few of the celebrated artists that members of The Wrecking Crew played with and often influenced with their extensive and skillful knowledge of music and a variety of instruments.

A labour of love for filmmaker Denny Tedesco whose father Tommy was a key member of the group with his outstanding guitar playing (a frequently used player whose tunes can be heard all over popular TV shows even e.g. Bonanza's main theme), The Wrecking Crew was filmed over a number of years and completed with help from a successful Kickstarter campaign (finished in 2008 the film was not released until last year), whose supporters wanted the world to know more about these unsung musical heroes and there's little doubting the care and effort that's been put into this production even though it at times remains a little rough around the edges and certain members don't get ample enough airplay.

This is a must watch for anyone who calls themselves music fans and an insightful look into the creation of many of the eras greatest hits plus the rise of popular music of that time. The Wrecking Crew is documentary entertainment at its most fun, un-preachy and easy to digest and should be mandatory viewing for those that grew up surrounded by these musicians works, even if they didn't know it at the time.

3 ½ Glen Campbell bowl cuts out of 5
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If you love what you are doing then it isn't really work.
TxMike14 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very nice documentary made by Denny Tedesco, to honor the memory of his father, Tommy Tedesco who died in 1997 at the age of 67. Tommy was arguably the best studio guitarist back in the 1950s and 1960s and was part of a rag-tag group of studio musicians in Los Angeles that became affectionately known as "the wrecking crew." It was a name older coat-and-tie musicians bestowed on them, as in they were wrecking the established image of studio musicians.

This documentary is especially poignant for a guy like me, who is also a musician and who grew up on the music of the 1960s. You see, the wrecking crew played the backup music in studio recordings of many of the biggest hit records of the late 1950s and the 1960s.

When we listened to a hit record back then we never gave much thought to where the backup music came from. I suppose we just figured that the singer or the group had some musicians and we were hearing them play.

That absolutely was NOT the way it worked. The 20 or 30 or so guys and gals that collectively were known as the wrecking crew were hired to play for recording sessions for all the big groups and most of the record labels. They were real musicians, they may only have a chord sheet or a simple line to work with and they would often invent musical lines that they thought would work well with the song.

Seeing this documentary also makes it clear why groups often lip synced their records when they made live appearances or were on a TV show. Their traveling band could not play what was recorded in the studio, if they had tried to do it live it just wouldn't sound very good.

Excellent film, I really admire those musicians and will think of them every time I now listen to music recorded in the 1960s.
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Essential viewing for all music fans
maccas-5636721 January 2019
If you're a musician, or simply just love music, then this is essential viewing!

The wrecking crew were the musicians behind some of the greatest music of all-time. The soundtrack to this documentary, virtually reads like my favourite songs list.

The film is directed by guitarist Tommy Tedesco's son. Once I realised this, I expected the film to perhaps saturate focus on Tommy over other musicians, but this wasn't the case! Denny has directed a well-balanced doco that makes you feel like you're sitting around a table listening to the geniuses that brought your favourite songs to life.

I laughed so much! These guys and girls have a phenomenal sense of humour and it makes the film really enjoyable to watch. It's a very "musician" sense of humour, and any musician will understand it.

As a fellow drummer, Hal Blaine has long been one of my drumming idols, so I really loved his anecdotes, footage and story. It was great how the documentary spent a little time focusing on each of the individual's that helped make the wrecking crew such a successful recording unit.

The Beach Boys are my favourite band too, so I really loved the segment on Brian Wilson and the making of Pet Sounds. You can't help but get goosebumps when hearing some of these musicians relate their stories to you!

The film also gives a great insight into a bygone era, that sadly doesn't seem to exist anymore. If you're an aspiring musician, this film really is must-watch viewing, as these pioneers and session maestros give phenomenal advice at times, as well as demonstrating just what it took to become a star session muso.
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The Musician's Musicians
BoomerDT8 September 2019
I've watched this three times and thoroughly enjoyed every viewing. A well done documentary looking at the incredibly talented studio musicians who laid the soundtracks to some of the biggest pop hits of the 60's and early 70's, Sinatra, Dino, The Beach Boys, Sonny & Cher, Herb Alpert, The 5th Dimension, Monkees were just a handful of the many hit artists that hand the LA Crew musicians laying down the tracks while influential producers and arrangers such as Phil spector and Brian Wilson wouldn't work with anyone else. Fascinating stuff, if you enjoy the music of this period.
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Guaranteed to blow your mind. A must hear for any music fan.Goosebumps of recognition from beginning to end. What a great (but late) hommage to these forgotten talents.
imseeg25 January 2019
Ofcourse I had heard about session musicians, but I never knew there was such a tight group of about 20 session musicians, who basically played and often created the sound of the sixties.

Really really amazing. I mean many of these songs were made before I was even born, but I knew them nonetheless, like EVERYBODY will recognize these terrific songs, because they have become such a part of popular music history.

The son of one of the most famous studio musicians was the director of this movie about his father's extra ordinary creative period in the sixties. Without his son's longing to turn this story into a documentary, I would have still been oblivious about the incredible contribution these studio musicians made to the sound of the sixties, often replacing entire bands as was the case with the Beach Boys

A must hear for any music fan. Goosebumps of recognition from beginning to end. What a great (but late) hommage to these forgotten studio session masters who made the sound of the sixties.
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