Here’s one consolation for the years it apparently took Denny Tedesco to get his labor-of-love documentary The Wrecking Crew wrapped up and in front of our eyeballs: He’s been conducting interviews for so long that we’re treated to footage of a hale and hearty Dick Clark and of a Glen Campbell whose memory seems to be clicking along just fine.
Clark offers generic happy talk, but Campbell’s on hand to marvel at his greatest pre-fame achievement — his work as a guitar-man in the nebulous band of L.A. session musicians who came to be known as the Wrecking Crew.
Configurations of the crew played on a spectacular run of Sixties hits for Phil Spector, the Beach Boys, the Monkees, and more. Highlights abound, as when bassist Carol Kaye demonstrates how she turned Sonny & Cher’s “The Beat Goes On” from a plod into a groove. Rock ‘n’ roll was a job for these studio pros, and these studio pros were a dirty secret for rock ‘n’ roll, which by the time of Pet Sounds had begun to prize a self-contained auteurism over the assembly-line approach.
Tedesco is the son of guitarist Tommy Tedesco, whose career included dates with Sam Cooke and a sitar session for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. With a son’s love and duty, Tedesco the younger breezily celebrates the team that laid down a thousand riffs back just before pop became too serious for anonymous craftsmanship. The crew’s recollections and occasional demonstrations, on their instruments, are revealing and delightful, but the film itself could use more of their professionalism and chops; the editing’s haphazard, and it’s not always clear why one segment follows another.