Saturday, May 31, 2008

FORGOTTEN HITS Reviews The Brand New Wrecking Crew Documentary

Thanks to DENNY TEDESCO (by way of HENRY GROSS), I was just able to view an advance copy of the brand new WRECKING CREW Documentary that is making the rounds at a number of Film Festivals this spring ... and I can only tell you that it is OUTSTANDING!!!

These INCREDIBLE musicians have spent the majority of their lives as the Unsung Heroes of '60's Pop and Rock Music ... sure, us "insiders" came to know who they were as we grew as music fans ... but the world at large had NO idea that MOST of the music we were hearing on the radio at the time was being created by this same "Band Of Brothers" (and one sister ... lol) over and over again. MOST of these musicians did literally THOUSANDS of sessions back in the day ... and the Hit List that they provided as both the soundtrack to this film ... AND the soundtrack of our lives ... will simply bowl you over.

Along the way, we're treated to in-depth profiles of some of the studio elite ... HAL BLAINE, CAROL KAYE, GLEN CAMPBELL, JOE OSBORN, AL CASEY, EARL PALMER, PLAS JOHNSON and, of course DENNY's Dad, the INCOMPARABLE TOMMY TEDESCO ... often in the words of these fine artists themselves. In addition, we're treated to some rarely seen vintage clips of the era ... most of which has never been seen by the general public before. The film is presented in a loving way ... a TRUE tribute to the FINE musicianship of these behind the scenes artists who truly DID provide The Soundtrack To Our Lives, circa the 1960's ... chock full of the music we all grew up and fell in love with ... music that has STAYED in our hearts and in our ears throughout all the decades that have followed.

I can only say that the film will blow you away!!! (And, I can only HOPE that some sort of two or three companion CD Soundtrack is also in the works!!! To finally gather ALL of this great music in one place and present it WITH THE PROPER CREDITS as a companion piece only helps to serve greater justice to this fine group of studio musicians. It's WAY past the time that these musicians should be properly acknowledged for their contributions to The History Of Rock And Roll Music! I'm sure that licensing all these great tracks might present a HUGE stumbling block ... but I believe it's worth EVERY effort necessary to make this happen and FINALLY give credit where credit is due.) The sad truth is that virtually ALL of these guys went uncredited at the time ... the record labels didn't want the public to know that the artists themselves were not providing the music on their own LPs. (Sadly, the guys who took the brunt of this criticism at the time were THE MONKEES ... four actors PORTRAYING musicians on a television series. When word came out that they hadn't actually performed on their first two LPs, there was nothing short of a media OUTRAGE!!! Yet these VERY SAME MUSICIANS were ALSO recording the music for THE BEACH BOYS, THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS, THE BYRDS, PAUL REVERE AND THE RAIDERS, GARY LEWIS AND THE PLAYBOYS, HERB ALPERT AND THE TIJUANA BRASS and literally HUNDREDS of others at the very same time ... and all the while the public at large was none the wiser!!!)

One thing that I can say that I was ESPECIALLY proud of is the fact that the film makers and musicians acknowledge early on in the film that these studio whiz-kids were NOT referred to as THE WRECKING CREW at the time of these original recordings. This was also OUR finding in an earlier piece that we did in FORGOTTEN HITS when we first heard about the release of this film. (Several of the recording artists on our list came forward with that bit of information ... the name THE WRECKING CREW came LATER as their recording legacy grew.) I am happy that the film makers decided to point this out as well ... despite the fact that virtually EVERYTHING published surrounding the recording careers of PHIL SPECTOR and BRIAN WILSON refers to them that way at the time.

This is a film you'll want to watch again and again. There are a few moments that will stick with you forever. One of the most touching and poignant scenes for me is the way DENNY handles the "winding down" stage of his father's career, legendary studio session guitarist TOMMY TEDESCO. Once the days of studio musicians were being phased out by up-and-coming new recording artists who actually DID provide their own musicianship on their recordings, this had to be a VERY difficult time indeed for the guys who made their livings putting in 15 and 16 hour days, running from studio to studio to lay down the tracks for pop music's biggest names ... most certainly, an emotionally tough time once the phone stopped ringing.

Near the end of his studio career, TOMMY wrote a beautiful, heart-felt song (with just a TWINGE of subtle "inside" humor) called REQUIEM FOR A STUDIO GUITAR PLAYER that addressed such issues ... it's a KILLER track that, thanks to DENNY, we're able to feature here today. (Things got so tight in the REAL world during this era that, in order to get his work of art heard, TOMMY had to dress as a ballerina and perform his song on THE GONG SHOW!!! The good news is ... HE WON!!!) I can't think of a single scene in ANY film that's so immediately poignant, sadly touching AND hysterically funny as this one is ... all at the very same time!!! Major Kudos to DENNY TEDESCO for having the courage, faith, confidence and insight to share this very special moment with us ... including what some might otherwise consider to be more of a "personal" moment ... for all of us to enjoy ... in MY mind, it clearly drives home the point of just how crucial and important this era of music really was ... all the while showing the love and respect this son has for his famous father.

THE WRECKING CREW: A DOCUMENTARY is a MUST SEE film ... for ANY music fan who grew up in the '60's ... a CAN'T MISS effort that you'll want to own to be able to watch again and again. As more information becomes available regarding this film's commercial release, you can count on us to let you know. In the meantime, here are a few more links to check out some of the details. (And be sure to check out the DISCOGRAPHY Page ... it'll blow you away!!!)

(You can ALSO read our two PREVIOUS postings on THE WRECKING CREW Film here):

I've included today TWO songs that have ALWAYS touched my heart pertaining to the plight of a studio musician. First up, BARRY MANILOW doing a song TITLED "STUDIO MUSICIAN" ... I first saw BARRY perform this song on a SOUNDSTAGE Performance, filmed right here in Chicago back in 1976 or so ... it grabbed me IMMEDIATELY ... and, although it was never commercially released on ANY of his albums, he DID include it as part of his LIVE set when he performed at RAVINIA a short while later ... a concert that I was ALSO fortunate enough to have attended. (That performance was filmed and later shown as one of BARRY's television specials!) It's an EXCELLENT piece ... and just seems to fit in PERFECTLY with today's subject matter.

Secondly, a song I doubt many of you have ever heard before. This one comes from the very first SILVER album (those bubblegum guys who scored a MAJOR pop hit with WHAM-BAM-SHANG-A-LANG right around the same time as the MANILOW track referenced above.) This one's simply called MUSICIAN ... and it absolutely SHOULD have been a smash follow-up hit. (It certainly shows the diversity of the band ... and has been one of my all-time favorites ever since. Incredibly, the single never even charted ... probably TOO far off the beaten path of their hit record for radio to ever bother with it.) Give it a listen ... it's a BEAUTIFUL and amazing song that COMPLETELY captures the spirit of what it's like trying to make a living as a musician. (Anyone who's EVER picked up a musical instrument with the aspirations of "hitting the big time" will most certainly be able to relate to THIS little ode.)

And finally, thanks again to DENNY TEDESCO for allowing us to share his father's testament, REQUIEM FOR A STUDIO GUITAR PLAYER, to the best of my knowledge, the first time it's ever been presented publicly in its entirety.

Don't miss our Brand New, EXCLUSIVE Interview with WRECKING CREW Film Maker DENNY TEDESCO ... you'll ONLY find it here on The FORGOTTEN HITS Blog Page!