Who the Hell Played It
They're the recording artists you don't know. The hit-makers. The band-members who never got credit. The recording artists who never got royalties. The ones who didn't tour (although some did). The ones who made The Sound.
You could call them The Beach Boys or The Monkees, Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, The Markettes, The T-Bones, The Byrds, The Tijuana Brass, Buffalo Springfield, The Association, The Mamas and the Papas, because they were playing the instruments for the recordings for all those groups.
They're the session musicians who walked in, got the sheet-music and made them sing through their playing, their economy, their versatility, and their incredible talent. Then, they got paid, walked out, and went to their next gig at another studio.
But, they provided the tightness of the arrangements of "Good Vibrations," the thumping bass of "The Beat Goes On" and "These Boots Are Made for Walkin,'" the sass in the sax for "The Pink Panther Theme," the bristling guitars of the "Bonanza" Theme, "Batman," the "Mission: Impossible" Theme, and so many more, their style and fingerprints are etched in those sounds that are the authentic vibes that echo in our memories as "authentic." And in so many cases, their sounds are irreplacable, unmatchable, unique. Their breath and their fingerprints are all over the music of the songs of the '50's and the '60's.
And nobody knows their names.
Hal Blaine. Karen Caye. Plas Nelson. Tommy Tedesco. Just a handful of the corps of L.A. session musicians who made the hits and backed the famous and their inimitable recordings. The name that was tossed around in the industry for them was The Wrecking Crew!
And the ultimate irony is that their presence in so much music is so pervasive, ever-present, and so essential to the telling of their story that it may make it impossible to see this movie celebrating them. It's a labor of love for the director and instigator, Tedesco's son, Danny, and so it has to be done right, and thus the music has to be there—it (and the interviews that make up the core of the film) cannot be told without it. But each one of those songs costs money to use in the film, and though the piper has been paid, the rights-holders to those songs must be satisfied.
And there is so much music, integral to the telling of the tale, to lose anything would be to compromise...and that doesn't seem right with these artists. The cost is prohibitive, and so Tedesco is raising money through small screenings—one of which I attended the other night—to raise funds to pay off the reproduction, mechanical and distribution rights for the soundtrack to put the show on the road and get it seen...and especially heard. One screening at a time, one of those songs is cemented into the movie and its future, like the parts of an orchestra, the colors, creating a unified whole, the complete story in song.
It is so much fun to watch this movie—I had a big smile on my face throughout—that is a privilege to beat a tambourine in its praise. It is the best outcome—in every aspect—if you get a chance to see this marvelous film.
The Wrecking Crew! is a Full-Price Ticket! (and the best money I spent at the movies this year)