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Fringe Report is now closed. Fringe Report closed on its 10th anniversary, Thursday 12 July 2012. It remains online as a record of 10 exciting years in the arts. Till July 2013, previously unwritten content is being added to the site from the past 10 years, but we are no longer reviewing new material. You can still write to us on the existing email addresses. Good luck with your shows.The Wrecking Crew (2008)
Verdict: Origins of pop classics
Denny Tedesco tells the story of his father, Tommy Tedesco and The Wrecking Crew. He uses interviews, stills, modern and original footage from the 60s onwards. This could have been a long list of hit records and successes, but it was far more than that.
Opening with a clip from the Pet Sounds session in 1965, a rapid series of clips of songs The Wrecking Crew had a part in follow. As the most sought-after session musicians in Los Angeles in the 1960s, they underpinned and improved the albums and singles of many of the popular artists of the day. The success of California Dreamin', You've lost that lovin' feeling, These boots were made for walking and many others, were largely down to them. Tommy Tedesco was also involved in producing the tv themes for Bonanza, Batman and Mash. There are so many images and tunes – it's obvious why the Crew had time for little else in their lives.
In 1996, Denny Tedesco brought four of the original players back together to talk about old times. They can't agree how many were in the original Crew - estimates vary from 12 to over 30. Their name may have come from the very correct, older-generation studio musicians, with their blazers and lack of small talk, who said they were going to wreck the music business.
Every comment is punctuated by more music. There are tracks from the Beach Boys, Mamas and Papas, Nancy and Frank Sinatra and The Monkees. These are also interrupted by conversations with Brian Wilson, Mickey Dolenz, Cher, Herb Alpert, Dick Clark, Jimmy Web, Nancy Sinatra and many others.
It emerges that if The Wrecking Crew had been credited on all the recordings they had a part in, it might look as if there was only one group in the world. Their musical prowess is immense. This is demonstrated by Carol Kaye showing how she worked out bass guitar lines that were truly original and pushed the music forward. Tommy Tedesco shows in a 1980s clip exactly what he was capable of on the guitar - everything.
Their part in Phil Spector's Wall of Sound is examined. It seems unlikely it could have existed without them. Gradually The Wrecking Crew was needed less. Members of bands got more proficient at playing their instruments often by watching the Crew in the studio. Then a new generation of groups arose that could play from the word go.
Individual members of the Crew had their own successes and failures. Glen Campbell went on as a solo artist. Hal Blaine had a very messy divorce. Tommy Tedesco appeared on The Gong Show dressed as a 280 lb- ballerina playing his original composition Requiem for a studio guitar player.
The whole film is a delight. It moves speedily from one item to another and never falters. The music has special resonance not only for those who remember the 60s but for all those who are interested in how popular music became what it is today. For many The Wrecking Crew will forever remain 'the backbeat to the soundtrack of our lives'.
CAST (imdb): www.imdb.com/title/tt1185418/
COMPANY: (imdb): www.imdb.com/title/tt1185418/
OTHER: Song list, trailer and much information - www.wreckingcrew.tv/
(c) Peter Andrews 2008
reviewed Monday 1 December 08 / The Electra, Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
Fringe Report (c) Fringe Report 2002-2013