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.
Runtime: 101 minutes
Release Date 2008-03-11
In many ways director Denny Tedesco's music documentary "The Wrecking Crew" serves as a personal valentine to his late father Tommy Tedesco, the greatly talented and innovative guitarist that was part of the legendary musical experience of skilled session musicians that provided the background sounds for many of the notable recording artists, television shows and films in the 1960's and early 1970's. Basically, the instrumental arrangements for these many performers that benefited from the dearly departed Tedesco and his fellow Crew members were infectious and influential sounds of artistry. Thus, "The Wrecking Crew" tells the fascinating story of the committed musicians behind the scenes that did not get their share of the spotlight as did the celebrated artists that they provided their unique beats for unbeknownst to the majority of the public. Still, "The Wrecking Crew" can take pride in knowing that their contributions in pop cultural circles shaped the personalized soundtrack of a sometimes disillusioned generation hungry for moving and grooving to the tunes that promoted a certain level of comfort, creativity and consciousness. Naturally, Tedesco goes on to not only recognize his father's Tommy's prominence in "The Wrecking Crew" but is generous to gather the insights and exploratory opinions from his beloved old man's surviving collaborators whose rhythmic timing and individual gifts in music-making added to the extraordinary collective sounds that made "The Wrecking Crew" one of the mainly sought after instrumental bands to become so in demand when it came to churning out memorable and money-making compositions in the lucrative music business. Though a random round-table sit-down session, Tedesco allows the Crew members to voice their take on what made their personal contributions (both inside and outside of The Wrecking Crew's jam sessions) so impacting. The backbeats that were created clearly served as inspiration and permanent trademarks for some singers, musical groups and media productions that rose through the ranks based on The Wrecking Crew's devotion and proclivities for developing unique instrumental techniques and tactics. The discussions for the Crew members were not solely based on their musical musings but we get a glimpse into their private lives away from the brainstorming of music. Through archived pictures and recordings it is revealed that the ups and downs of family life, financial considerations, investments and other side projects all kept these remarkably resilient performers busy as they were making their mark professionally. Basically, The Wrecking Crew supplied what is commonly known as "the West Coast Sound" and the audience is immediately reminded about the involvement this small army of session musicians had with such big names as old-time artists such as Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby to revered 60's rock groups such as the revolutionary The Beach Boys and the popular The Monkees (The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson makes a cameo appearances as well as The Monkees' Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork). Of course other notable talking heads are assembled and gladly offer their assessment on how The Wrecking Crew shaped and embraced their singing careers along the way. Artists such as Cher, Glen Campbell, Nancy Sinatra and Herb Alpert all chime in for their singing praises of the Crew that took them to new heights in their careers. Also, music insiders and executives such as Dick Clark, Lou Adler and H.B. Barnum all recall The Wrecking Crew's glory days with spot-on recollections. Plus, the countless archived scenes for whom The Wrecking Crew was cozy with in their musical paths to royalty featured the images of Sammy Davis Jr., Phil Spector, Sam Cooke, Al Jardine from The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Mamas and the Papas...just to name a few. Still, the ultimate rush in "The Wrecking Crew" is learning about some of the nostalgic television show that they had their hands in so creatively. From 60's television oldies that run a list of impressive boob tube memories that mention such fare as "Bonanza", "Mission: Impossible", "The Monkees", and "Batman" to later shows in the 70's for something like "Dallas", the Crew seemed to have had their fingerprints all over anything lyrically stimulating. The interesting revelation pertaining to The Wrecking Crew's growing accomplishments is the fact that their musical achievements garnered Grammy Awards as well based on the countless recordings they put their distinctive stamp on with ferocity. When Tedesco focuses his camera on Crew members both relatively known to most (drummer Hal Blaine for instance) to the obscure ones (Earl Palmer, Al Casey, Bones Howe and Carol Kaye--the lone female representative of the group) we get a true sense of the pride, persistence and prosperity that these unsung artists have gone through as they knowingly participated in a musical movement meant to be rejoiced because their creative juices was the fabric that enriched our empty lives looking for escapist entertainment. Curiously, "The Wrecking Crew" was first made in 2008 but is now making the rounds in 2015. Although some viewers did not get to witness Tedesco's thoughtful and noteworthy on-screen affectionate acknowledgment to his gifted guitarist father and his equally productive Crew cohorts some seven-plus years ago the message is still the same then as it is now: the blast to the past in sound and spirit will remain refreshingly in tact courtesy of the legacy that the famed The Wrecking Crew left in its everlasting wake of numerous musical avenues too plentiful to count. The Wrecking Crew (2008; re-released in 2015) Lunchbox Entertainment 1 hr. 41 mins. Starring: various Directed by: Denny Tedesco MPAA Rating: PG Genre: Documentary Critic's rating: *** stars (out of 4 stars) (c) Frank Ochieng (2015)