BOOK REPORT: THE WRECKING CREW by KENT HARTMAN
You may not know who The Wrecking Crew were… but you know their work, and a ton of the tunes they played on. Kent Hartman’s new biography attempts to tell the tale of the loose confederacy of L.A.-based musicians who played on the masterpiece recordings of modern music produced by the likes of Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, and many others. The book just came out last week, and its timing is intriguing - various members of the group have been in the news lately:
The Wrecking Crew book has one inherent flaw due to the nature of its subject: nobody really knew who all the members were. It wasn’t a formal group, more of a nickname for a group of players who began to find themselves in demand for more and more recording sessions in Los Angeles. The list of song titles at the bottom of this post are the chapters of the book, and are a great indicator of how varied the tunes they played on.
The forementioned flaw means the book doesn’t go too far in depth on a lot of people. What it lacks in depth, though, it makes up for in an astonishing amount of fantastic rock and roll stories. Some of the highlights for me were: learning about Creed Bratton (as in Creed from “The Office”) and his time spent playing in The Grass Roots, including a hilarious story about a gig at the Fillmore West. The terribly sad tale of drummer extraordinaire Jim Gordon, whose piano coda for Layla is simply one of the most gorgeous pieces of music ever written. The late Billy Strange has a great story told about how a piece he composed entitled Monotonous Melody became the dance craze known as Limbo Rock.
If you’re looking for a rock book that will shock you with how much you didn’t know about the music you love, get The Wrecking Crew. It’ll learn you about a slew of the greatest musicians you’ve already heard… but maybe not heard of.
Footnotes: chapters in The Wrecking Crew are song titles they played on…