I've been wanting to see this documentary for quite some time and finally got the chance at a screening in Hollywood. "The Wrecking Crew" is a loving film about the studio band that dominated the pop music scene in L.A. in the 1960s. Its most famous members were Leon Russell (bottom, far left), Glen Campbell and drummer Earl Palmer, but it also included legends such as drummer Hal Blaine, saxophonist Plas Johnson, guitarist Tommy Tedesco and the only woman in the group, bassist Carol Kaye.
In fact, it's Tedesco's son, Denny, who is behind this film, which is equal parts homage to his father and a testimony to these incredible musicians. The film has been finished for some time but Tedesco and his team are still raising money to cover the considerable licensing fees for the dozens of famous songs that are excerpted. Tedesco estimates they still have about $250,000 to raise before it can be distributed on DVD. But it screens at film festivals and at fundraisers around the country. (The schedule can be found on the website.)
This film is the West Coast equivalent of "Standing In the Shadows of Motown," the documentary that told the story of Berry Gordy's house band. And this story is just as astounding when you consider the number and prominence of recordings on which this group played. A comprehensive list can be found on the website (along with a trailer), but, for starters, they were the band on the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds," on every Phil Spector Wall of Sound record, Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass albums, Sonny & Cher's early hits, Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" and "The Boxer," Frank Sinatra's "Strangers In the Night," Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Were Made For Walking," and the Sinatras' duet, "Somethin' Stupid." And when Glen Campbell began his solo career, he called on his former bandmates to accompany him. They also provided the sound for lesser artists such as The Monkees and The Association, but even on the shlockier material, the musicianship is obvious.
You probably own many of the better known songs on which they performed, so I thought you'd enjoy this obscurity by The Defenders.