The Wrecking Crew

Directed by Denny Tedesco. Starring Lou Adler, Herb Albert, H.B. Barnum, Hal Blaine, Glen Campbell, Carol Kaye, Al Casey.
They were the most in-demand session musicians in America throughout the 1960s, and this loose collection of now iconic players known as The Wrecking Crew have their golden years celebrated by those close to the action. Alongside survivors from the two dozen-plus musicians who passed through the ranks (including bassist Carole Kaye and guitarist Glen Campbell), there are the artists and producers who benefitted the most, as The Wrecking Crew provided the music for hit after hit after hit. Those thankful for their help here include producer Lou Adler, chief Beach Boy Brian Wilson, A&M founder Herb Alpert, Cher, Mickey Dolenz and Nancy Sinatra. And they all say pretty much the same thing – these musician kicked ass. Beautifully.
THE VERDICT: It’s been a long, long time coming, but, as expected, this documentary about LA’s finest group of session musicians through the 1960s is a joy of the highest order. Having premiered originally at the 2008 SXSW festival, director Tedesco – son of legendary Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco – has managed to add more interviews and more goodies to an already rich and remarkable story. These largely unknown musicians played with everyone from Sinatra and Bing to The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Cohen and, of course, Phil Spector – providing most of the instrumentation for the latter’s Wall Of Sound.
It was the passing of Tommy Tedesco in 1997 that sparked his filmmaking son into action, pulling out of the shadows the two dozen or so remarkable musicians that passed through the ranks of The Wrecking Crew. As with Motown’s Funk Brothers, the Hi Rhythm Section at Hi Records, or Booker T. and the gang at Stax, bringing those quiet and quietly remarkable musicians who provided the backbeat for many a classic recording out into the light feels pretty much righteous, verging on riotous – especially when classic songs such as Good Vibrations, Last Train To Clarksville, These Boots Were Made For Walking and Cecilia are blasting out on the soundtrack.
These are all basement tapes heroes, but all the more loveable and precious for it. And if there’s a star of the show, it’s bassist Carol Kaye, not only a groove giant but also a pretty darn good stand-up too, if this documentary is anything to go by. Enjoy. Buy. And then enjoy again. And again.
Review by Paul Byrne

Review by Paul Byrne
Quietly remarkable