The Wrecking Crew

The shimmering intangibles of pop music — whatever it is that makes three or more recorded minutes of music connect to and resonate within the human spirit — are the co-subjects in this wonderful documentary on the Wrecking Crew, the industry-acclaimed but otherwise little-known group of session musicians who played on almost every major album or single recorded on the West Coast from the ’60s thru the early ’70s: the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, Ray Charles, the Mamas and the Papas, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band — the list is endless. Music geeks already know, but it’ll come as a shock to the casual music fan that some of their favorite “bands” were forerunners of Milli Vanilli, miming over the masterful tracks laid out by this group. Directed by Denny Tedesco, whose legendary guitarist father, Tommy Tedesco, was part of the Crew (and whose licks can also be heard on countless classic TV theme songs), the film crams a lot in its fast-moving running time: the shifting of pop music’s cultural center from New York (i.e., the Brill Building) to Los Angeles; how the Crew and their rock & roll sound and sartorial aesthetic redefined the “session musician”; and the brilliance of bassist Carol Kaye (the group’s sole female member) and how she kicked down doors without even trying. Talking heads include Dick Clark, Cher, Lou Adler, Brian Wilson, Nancy Sinatra, Glen Campbell, Mickey Dolenz and a roundtable of the Crew itself. Tedesco began the film as a tribute to his father (which it very lovingly is) and ended up retrieving history from the cutout bin. As a special treat, following this free screening, the surviving members of the Crew, along with singer Julia Fordham, will perform some of the classics they helped to create. (California Plaza Amphitheatre, 350 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn; Sat., June 28, 8 p.m. Admission is free.)

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