Best band in the busi­ness

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

THE WRECK­ING CREW Di­rected by Denny Tedesco. Fea­tur­ing Cher, Herb Alpert, Micky Dolenz, Nancy Si­na­tra, Glen Camp­bell. Club, IFI, Dublin, 101 min In his good-na­tured (and very old) con­tri­bu­tion to this melodic doc­u­men­tary, Micky Dolenz, mad­dest mem­ber of the Mon­kees, of­fers a qual­i­fied de­fence for the band’s in­fa­mous lack of in­volve­ment in their early records. He doesn’t pre­tend that they played any more of the mu­sic than has been ru­moured. How­ever, he does point out that many sup­pos­edly more “au­then­tic” groups were do­ing much the same thing.

In­deed, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, among the most revered records of its era, could be fairly de­scribed as a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Brian Wil­son and LA’s most distin­guished ses­sion mu­si­cians.

That cadre oc­ca­sion­ally went by the name the Wreck­ing Crew (though some barely re­mem­ber hear­ing those words) and this doc­u­men­tary fi­nally gives them de­served recog­ni­tion. From the late 1950s to the early 1960s, these gritty pro­fes­sion­als beefed up more great records than seems hu­manly pos­si­ble. They were swoop­ing be­neath the Ma­mas & the Pa­pas, grind­ing around Nancy Si­na­tra and lean­ing ro­bustly against Phil Spec­tor’s “Wall of Sound”. The Wreck­ing Crew were – as far as the stu­dio went – Herb Alpert & the Ti­juana Brass.

Denny Tedesco’s film is a per­sonal pro­ject that has been a long time in the mak­ing. The cen­tre­piece – pre­sented in tell­tale nar­row ra­tio and fuzzy

Sonny Bono and Cher: worked with the leg­endary Wreck­ing Crew

res­o­lu­tion – is a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween a small group of crew mem­bers from the mid-1990s. Tommy Tedesco, the di­rec­tor’s gui­tarist dad, who died in 1997, is among the most colour­ful and amus­ing. But many view­ers will be even more taken with con­tri­bu­tions from bassist Carol Kaye, one of very few women ac­cepted into the gang.

No se­ri­ous mu­sic fan will want to miss The Wreck­ing Crew. The doc­u­men­tary makes fas­ci­nat­ing con­nec­tions be­tween the fledg­ling high-showbiz days of rock’n’roll and the rise of more ver­sa­tile singer-song­writ­ers in the 1970s. But this re­mains a fairly rou­tine doc­u­men­tary that (due to dis­putes over rights, ap­par­ently) speaks to us from two re­moves: the era of the mu­si­cians’ pomp and the pe­riod when most in­ter­views were recorded. It will play on BBC Four for­ever and ever.

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