In the 1960s and 1970s, a group of studio musicians, collectively known as The Wrecking Crew, contributed to some of the biggest records of the time. They worked with artists such as Sonny & Cher, The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers and The Monkees, but their story has largely remained untold… Until now.
Produced and directed by Denny Tedesco, the son of Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco, the film seems to have been inspired by the fact that, when Tommy died, very few people knew who he was, but they almost invariably knew his work. The Wrecking Crew tells the story of the musicians who helped to create the famous ‘West Coast Sound’, but is not really anything we haven’t seen before.
Interviews with Wrecking Crew musicians including Hal Blaine, Tommy Tedesco and Carol Kaye are merged with talking heads from artists they worked with, including Brian Wilson, Cher, Nany Sinatra and Micky Dolenz from The Monkees, to create the film. This insider look at the music these people created but were not credited for is interesting, but lacks the spark to make it truly engaging and moving.
The film is constructed well enough, although there are times when being told which year is being discussed would help. There also seems to be a connection between the home and professional lives of these artists, but this is never made strongly enough for the audience to truly care. Yes, it seems unfair that they were not credited for their work, but it seems they were handsomely paid and highly respected, since producers would work their schedules around The Wrecking Crew and not the other way around. Some emotional connection comes in the final moments of the film, as the musicians’ popularity faded and Tedesco admitted that his having a stroke was perhaps a good thing, as it helped him to justify the fact that the phone no longer rang.
In all, The Wrecking Crew is an interesting subject for a documentary, but it is not incredibly well put together. Perhaps director Denny Tedesco was too close to the subject, or perhaps the story of fortune and respect, but no fame, resonates less than the truly heartbreaking story of the singers in 20 Feet From Stardom.