This entertaining documentary focuses on the titular Californian group of session musicians, who were responsible for some of the greatest rock n’ roll and pop hits of the 1960s, as well as a whole lot more (familiar snippets of TV and film soundtracks pop up regularly here, from Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther theme to the opening bars of Bonanza and M*A*S*H). As with the recent music documentaries Standing In The Shadows Of Motown, 20 Feet From Stardom and Muscle Shoals the idea is to highlight the artistry of people who may not be familiar to the general public, and who arguably have never quite received the credit they deserve, even if they are well-respected within music circles. The Wrecking Crew played on records by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, The Mamas And The Papas, David Axelrod, Herb Alpert, Simon And Garfunkel, Glen Campbell, Nancy Sinatra and The Monkees, among others, while they were also the band that provided Phil Spector with his famous Wall Of Sound, yet I imagine relatively few people could actually name a member if asked.

Made by Denny Tedesco, the son of Tommy Tedesco (a guitarist and key figure within the band), it’s an exhaustive (though not exhausting) work that manages to pack a great deal of information into its 100 minutes, with the usual mixing of archive footage with more recent interviews. Most of these are typically-anecdotal one-to-ones, but there’s also a nice round table chat featuring several members who haven’t seen one another for a couple of decades, including Tedesco Sr, Carol Kaye and Hal Blaine (all of whom will be familiar to anyone that watched the recent Brian Wilson biopic Love And Mercy). Trying to remember who’s who is a little tough at times – estimates suggest that there were upwards of 30 main members during the Wrecking Crew’s long career, and many of them feature here – but the filmmaker commendably allows the backing musicians to take centre stage for once and his determination in getting The Wrecking Crew into cinemas is also worthy of praise: Denny Tedesco began work on his film in 1996 and finished it in 2008, but the licensing costs for the (magnificent) soundtrack were understandably high and it took a crowdfunding campaign to gather enough money together for a big screen release. Fans of the acts mentioned above will find much to enjoy, and although the approach of such retro-facing music docs is familiar there’s a nice, warm personal touch running through this one, perhaps best espoused by the use of Dedicated To The One I Love at the end.

Directed by: Denny Tedesco.
Starring: Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Tommy Tedesco, Earl Palmer, Lou Adler, Dick Clark, Nancy Sinatra, Cher, Brian Wilson.
Cinematography: Trish Govoni, Rodney Taylor.
Editing: Claire Scanlon.
Music: Various.
Certificate: U.
Running Time: 102 minutes.
Year: 2014.

4 Responses to “0345 | The Wrecking Crew”

  1. Todd Benefiel

    I saw the title in my inbox and thought, ‘Hey, Stu watched one of the Matt Helm spy spoofs starring Dean Martin!’ Um, not quite. Still, this sounds like a well-made documentary, and hopefully I can track it down somewhere. I lost my cool DVD-renting library when I moved, so movies aren’t as accessible to me (well, besides the Monolith) as they used to be. I think, from now on, if you positively review a movie, you should buy the DVD and send it to me.

    • Stu

      Ha no, not quite! And to be honest I’m spy-spoofed out for this year. I liked this, but more for the music and the musicians interviewed, as it’s a very straightforward documentary. But it’s successful in terms of highlighting the talents of the musicians and addressing the unfairness of their anonymity. I’d happily send you the DVD if I had a copy and if there was a postal service in the UK, but I’m afraid that it doesn’t exist any more. Don’t bother researching that, there’s been a cover-up in place for years; you’ll just have to take my word for it.

      • Todd Benefiel

        Damn British mail carriers! And I had a stack of VHS movies and a Tom Cruise poster I was going to send you, too. Thank heavens there’s still FedEx.

        • Stu

          Great! As long as it’s not Risky Business/Top Gun-era Cruise. Or The Firm/Born On The Fourth Of July-era Cruise. Or Jerry Maguire/Eyes Wide Shut-era Tom Cruise. Or any era Tom Cruise.

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