Inside L.A.’s Studio Factory with the Wrecking Crew
By Ken Sharp
By Patrick Prince
The cast of characters for the Wrecking Crew — the legendary group of session musicians who worked their studio magic for ’60s pop stars — were names like Glen Campbell and Leon Russell. These were musicians who were, at the time, skilled enough to be household names in their own right but, as bass guitarist Carol Kaye put it, chose session work because it paid a lot better, with a quicker paycheck.
The Wrecking Crew left its musical mark on pop culture
Touchstone American pop songs like The Mamas and The Papas’ “California Dreamin’,” The Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man” (Roger McGuinn the only Byrd playing an instrument on the song), and The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” had the Wrecking Crew’s brilliance behind them. Beach Boys mastermind Brain Wilson once said that he wished he had written “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” It was such a great record, nobody could believe it,” he summarized. That speaks volumes about the force behind every song that the Wrecking Crew performed on. But there were many little things within each song that influenced many in the years to come. For instance, saxophonist Plas Johnson’s solo on Henry Mancini’s “The Pink Panther Theme” or Louie Shelton’s flamenco-style guitar solo on The Monkees’ “Valleri.”
“Sound Explosion!” covers all of the above in a unique way. It is a supplement to this year’s wonderful documentary, “The Wrecking Crew” (just released on DVD/Blu-ray), directed by Denny Tedesco. But this book certainly stands on its own strength. Besides the beauty of the design (even without a hardcover, it is an ideal coffee table book), the vintage photographs help tell the stories and, like all of Ken Sharp’s books, the oral history approach is spot-on (nothing better than the reader getting information straight from the source).
Who needs a kindle when books like this are published? The 258 page full-gloss, large paperback “Sound Explosion!” is a real book; the kind you go to Barnes & Noble wanting to buy and, in the end, satisfied to own.