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If you were a fan of popular music in the 1960s and early '70s, you were a fan of the Wrecking Crew - whether you knew it or not.
On hit record after hit record, by everyone from the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees to the Grass Roots, the 5th Dimension, Sonny & Cher, and Simon & Garfunkel, this collection of West Coast studio musicians from diverse backgrounds established themselves as the driving sound of pop music - sometimes over the objection of actual band members forced to make way for Wrecking Crew members.
Industry insider Kent Hartman tells the dramatic, definitive story of the musicians who forged a reputation throughout the business as the secret weapons behind the top recording stars. Mining invaluable interviews, the author follows the careers of such session masters as drummer Hal Blaine and keyboardist Larry Knechtel, as well as trailblazing bassist Carol Kaye, who went on to play in thousands of recording sessions. Listeners will discover the Wrecking Crew members who would forge careers in their own right, including Glen Campbell and Leon Russell, and learn of the relationship between the Crew and such legends as Phil Spector and Jimmy Webb.
Hartman also takes us inside the studio for the legendary sessions that gave us Pet Sounds, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and the rock classic “Layla”, which Wrecking Crew drummer Jim Gordon cowrote with Eric Clapton for Derek and the Dominos. And the author recounts priceless scenes, such as Mike Nesmith of the Monkees facing off with studio head Don Kirshner, Grass Roots lead guitarist (and future star of The Office) Creed Bratton getting fired from the group, and Michel Rubini unseating Frank Sinatra's pianist for the session in which the iconic singer improvised the hit-making ending to “Strangers in the Night”.
The Wrecking Crew tells the collective, behind-the-scenes stories of the artists who dominated Top-40 radio during the most exciting time in American popular culture.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Dubi on 03-31-14
Juke Box Documentary
Would you listen to The Wrecking Crew again? Why?
Like many of the songs that are described in the book, The Wrecking Crew may be worth listening to again. However, I think the next step is to see the film documentary. Though it may lack the detail of the book, it would have the added benefit of including snippets of the songs and showing us the faces of the musicians who are the subject of the book.
Actually, I found that it was the songs that held this true life story together, and the author must have felt so as well, organizing the chapters by song rather than my personality. When your subjects are anonymous studio musicians who are by necessity devoid of the egomania that drives their front men, their biographical back stories, while certainly interesting, do not burn down any barns.
But the songs they created -- the stories behind how these huge hits of the 60s and 70s came together in surprising ways -- is the real attraction here, especially for people like me who grew up on those songs.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Wrecking Crew?
If you consider my first name, one of the most interesting stories is how they came up with the coda to Strangers in the Night. I have had to live with that my whole life. I never knew until now how Frank Sinatra ended up improvising that fade out on the third take, and how the producer decided to include it in the version that was ultimately released.
And if you ever danced the limbo at a party, you might be surprised to hear the story of how the famous limbo song came to be -- how it was written, what the songwriter called it, and how it affected him. This book is full of those types of gems.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
The book's tag line is "The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best Kept Secret". The poster for the movie version, made by the son of one of the musicians central to The Wrecking Crew, has a full paragraph backing up the title. But since the songs are the real stars of this story, I'd tag the movie with something like "The Inside Story Behind Your Favorite Songs." That doesn't shortchange the musicians who people that inside story, but it highlights the work product which is their lasting legacy.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
By deeva on 07-30-12
Fascinating Story Well Told
What made the experience of listening to The Wrecking Crew the most enjoyable?
Bought this book after watching the documentary and found that it contains many more stories and interesting details than the documentary (which was equally good). Who knew?
What other book might you compare The Wrecking Crew to and why?
I can't think of another book to compare this to - it is unique.
What about Dan John Miller???s performance did you like?
Good voice well paced.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Any additional comments?
Anyone who likes rock and roll would like this book.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful