music

« June 21, 2013

The Wrecking Crew

Behind the boards with L.A.'s unsung studio squad
Review by Chase Hoffberger

The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock & Roll's Best-Kept Secret

by Kent Hartman
St. Martin's Griffin, 320 pp., $15.99 (paper)

You've heard this story before, from 2002's Standing in the Shadows of Motown to folklore surrounding the once-unheralded sessionistas at Stax. Venerable L.A. recording troupe the Wrecking Crew – a name drummer Hal Blaine bestowed upon the more than 50 musicians who backed such iconic acts as the Monkees, the Beach Boys, Nancy Sinatra, and the Byrds – cut more hit records than you can fit into a jukebox, but aside from the players who broke out and went solo (Glen Campbell, Dr. John, Leon Russell), you've likely never known their names. Author Kent Hartman walks readers through the studio's walls to exhaustive detail, opening with a story about the first time Campbell picked up a guitar somewhere in Arkansas, before relaying the specific emotions that led to every one of the Crew's phone calls and chord changes. Those recounts get laborious after the 15th or 50th dramatised control room conversation that could not have possibly gone to wit. By the time Phil Spector stops by, it's clear this wall of written sound could have been 60 pages shorter.

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