The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret
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The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  492 ratings  ·  114 reviews
Winner of the Oregon Book Award for General Nonfiction and Los Angeles Times bestseller

"It makes good music sound better."—Janet Maslin in The New York Times

“A fascinating look into the West Coast recording studio scene of the ’60s and the inside story of the music you heard on the radio. If you always assumed the musicians you listened to were the same people you saw ons...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Dale Stonehouse
Having read the original magazine article (American Heritage, 2007) and watched the film documentary, I was expecting to enjoy this. Even though different people were highlighted to some extent than in the film, it was still just a very fun read, especially for someone who listened to nearly everything these musicians created. I was glad to see the author mention the studio musicians who worked in New York, Detroit, Memphis and Nashville because their work was and is significant. Drummer Hal Bla...more
Douglas Hackney
I have a friend who was in school in Poland when the Soviet Union collapsed. Soon after, his school received new textbooks. In those new textbooks was a completely new and different retelling of history. Suddenly, overnight, everything that had happened in the 20th century was completely different. In one Orwellian moment, everything he knew was wrong.

If you grew up in the 60's, or have ever hummed along or danced to a pop or rock hit from that era, prepare for an equally jarring re-write of Hi...more
Monica
I heard the author of this book, Kent Hartman, being interviewed on KQRS radio on the way to work one morning a few months ago and he was so interesting and so knowledgeable it made for a great interview. I made a mental note to read the book. I found a $2 copy at a used book sale (not bad, it was just published in Feb. 2012). It was a fun read with a lot of details about hit records primarily of the 1960's that were recorded in Los Angeles. I never realized that so many of the same musicians pl...more
Nick
Four stars because I think the book could have benefited from a stronger editorial hand. Still, this is a fun, thought-provoking read about a poorly understood period. It's about a period where rock music was becoming big business and also becoming "art", but where the recording process was too important to be entrusted to the nominal musicians. The good news was the great recorded legacy, and many of the "replaced" musicians had great careers anyway. And the rise of the rock band artiste/auteur...more
Peter Krakow
Even for a Baby-Boomer Music-Slut like myself, this was a little weak. The author offers up lots of gee-whiz and aw-shucks sentiments and stories, but fails to dig much deeper.

That being said, we're still talking about the studio musicians behind virtually every pop/rock record to come out of LA in the 60's including the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Sonny & Cher, Jan & Dean, the Righteous Brothers, Mama's and Papa's, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Simon and Garfunkle, the Monkees, Phil Spector,...more
Jeff Tucker
If you’ve ever listened to music by the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, the Carpenters, the Mamas and the Papas, the Association, the Ronettes, Glen Campbell, the 5th Dimension, Simon & Garfunckel and many more, you were listening to music by the Wrecking Crew.
The Wrecking Crew was a loose knit group of professional studio musicians who could read a music score, play it through a couple times and then record it flawlessly in just a couple hours. The record producers in Los Angeles knew they coul...more
Rick
Pedestrian bit of blown-up magazine journalism intended to celebrate a talented, rotating collection of studio musicians who played on many of the hit singles that emerged from Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s. Hartman means well but neither writes well nor benefits much from his research opportunities. There are tons of folks cited for interviews with the author but they seem only to have given him blurbs. Motown’s Funk Brothers played more inventively on more hits than The Wrecking Crew and...more
Harold
I decided to write one review dealing with both “The Wrecking Crew” and “Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew” and post it at each book’s review slot.since both books were so closely related.

The recording industry, up until relatively recent times, supported an elite group of musicians who could create on cue, sight read music and, in short, deliver the goods in the time allowed. In large recording centers like NYC and LA this group could number several hundred musicians who jumped from studio to st...more
Martin
I was almost put off by the unabashed fandom exhibited by the author in the introduction, but I stuck with it and was glad that I did because the stories contained within were terrific portraits of the era, not just in LA but in showbiz across the country. The book initially focuses on Glen Campbell, Carol Kaye and Hal Blaine but expands its scope to include many other musicians, plus a few closely associated writers and producers. Although equally known for playing on classic Beach Boys songs,...more
Roger Greenawalt
Learned tons about the very small group of LA musicians who played on a preponderance of the great hit songs of the 60's. These are my people.
Writing stylistically is a little dry but the data is comprehensive.
Lisa
Great stories, good research. Only wish he had spent longer with each individual; I got the sense there was much more out there to tell.
Chris
Not very deep, but a fun read! I was constantly singing along in my head!
Nick Greenwood
I've read many bios in my life add this one to the list. I rated this a five more for the content then the actual writing. Hartman isn't a flowery writer but he tries and that might be where some of his writing goes wrong. I didn't care so much for the beginning stories about Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine, and Carole Kaye's upbringing, they were too long. While some background on the musicians are needed and Hartman certainly did that for other musicians, those three are focused on almost too much a...more
Kathryn
While searching for a Monkees biography for a timely review, this title popped up in the recommended widgets. I had known for some time that the Monkees did not play in the studio for their first two albums, and it occurred to me other groups of the day would have made use of studio musicians. That the majority of the best-known songs recorded during rock and roll's first few decades had been performed by a core group left me wanting to know more, and author Hartman's meticulous biography of "Th...more
Mary Lou
The Wrecking Crew by Kent Hartman describes the evolution of rock and roll and the record industry, revealing behind the scenes data known to folks in the business but kept secret from the general public. In short, skilled musicians who were unknown outside recording studios and the music industry played many songs for which stars earned the fame.

Key individuals are Glen Campbell, Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine, Billy Strange, and Bill Pittman, although there are many others. Recording artists whose s...more
Terence
This was another baby boomer trip down memory lane. The Wrecking Crew recounts the contributions of a legendary but behind-the-scenes cadre of California studio musicians who were the true musicians behind many of the rock'n'roll hits of the 1960s and 1979s, not only for famously manufactured groups like The Monkees, but also for the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and many of the Phil Spector produced "wall of sound" hits. At first I was a little skeptical of the novelistic style that recreated not only...more
Rob
The Wrecking Crew was a group of around two dozen session musicians who played on an astonishing number of pop records in the 1960's and early 1970's. It's apt to compare them to The Funk Brothers who did for Motown in Detroit what the Wrecking Crew did for various producers in Los Angeles.

Although Hartman seems to promise a biography of the players, I found the book to be much more about the general recording scene in Los Angeles, told through a series of 'vignettes' about various artists and...more
Martin Kohout
Pretty interesting stuff for any rock and roll fan, but the writing is pedestrian at best. The Wrecking Crew was an informal group of session musicians who played on just about every hit record that came out of L.A. in the Sixties and Seventies. Hartman focuses primarily on guitarist Glen Campbell, drummer Hal Blaine, and bassist Carol Kaye, one of the few female instrumentalists in rock and roll at the time, but touches on many others.

Phil Spector, the Monkees, the Mamas and the Papas, Frank Si...more
Raymond A Brigleb
A MUST

Anyone who lived before or after the 60's and enjoys music needs to read this book. It is a informative, enjoyable account of the west coast recording studios that like the studios in Detroit, Memphis, New York, New Orleans and other music hubs used studio musicians to create our memories. A truly fun read.
Sarah Garrett
An interesting story itself, which I think was it's saving grace. But I wouldn't consider it a cohesive story. More like several small stories about various songs and artists. It was pretty hard to follow as it lacked focus. The biggest problem I felt is that it set itself up as following three specific artists and then didn't really deliver. Like I said, interfering but hard to read.
Bob Edgar
Very readable. Perhaps by necessity, Hartman overlaps stories of the musicians who made up the Crew, which leads to repetition and frequent back-tracking in time. How many times do you need to be told 60s groups didn't play on the records? Stories are pretty interesting, though.
Stan Takemoto
I loved this book!

In the 70's I tended to buy record albums based on who the backup musicians were. Larry Knechtel and Hal Blaine were two of my favorites.

In the 70's & 80's I was a huge fan of MFSB - the backup band for many of the Philly Soul groups I loved and I later learned about the Funk Brothers, Motown's studio band. And of course, we heard about the Memphis Horns and the Bar-Kays, but the Wrecking Crew was a pretty well-kept secret.

Mr. Hartmann wrote a very interesting book, but I w...more
Nick Johnston
Definitely heavy on the anecdotes and light on the musical analysis. I would've liked maybe some more in-depth discussion about what made these particular musicians so incredible, but as a light, quick read to power through in one sitting, this got the job done.
Donna Pelley
Once upon a time I had aspirations to be a recording engineer. Life had something else in mind but reading this book was a great peak into the world that might have been. It's the inside scoop on the recording studio world of the 1960s and 70s. Lots of great stories about songs that became the fabric of our lives and the people who made it happen. Details of the innovation, creativity and craziness of an era. A good read for sure.
Richard
Had the Wrecking Crew been a band on their own would be up there with Elvis and the Beatles in rock history. Book suffers a little from its straightforward narrative, and though it was based largely on interviews, Hartman doesn't let the musicians tell their story in their own words. Many musicians are introduced but the book doesn't often connect the musicians to the songs on which they played. However, anecdotes about Carol Kaye coming up with a key line in 'The Beat Goes On' and 'Midnight Con...more
Harold
Unbelievably and until now unknown the magic of the session artist who played on so many recording of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, The Monkees, Simon and Garfunkel, Grass Roots, Sonny and Cher and the list goes on. If you enjoy music you will love this book.
Peter Swenson
Great stories about how famous songs were recorded, told in a pretty mediocre way. Almost every account has something like "he knew in his gut that this would be a hit, and it was! It went straight to number one and stayed for 3 weeks!" It reminded me of high school fiction in the way it was written, but the facts it conveyed were interesting enough to make it a worthwhile book.
Traecy
Did not know that so much of the music from this time was actually created by relatively unknown, but amazingly talented, musicians. Makes you rethink all the albums you love and understand why some groups never sound as good live.
Mike
You've all ingested the classics of pop rock such as Mr. Tambourine Man, Good Vibrations, Bridge Over Troubled Waters and the Monkees catalogue but not many know that the music you heard was not played by the Beach Boys, Monkees, Grassroots, Byrds, Sonny and Cher or many other 60s bands, but instead was created by a group of stalwart musicians known as The Wrecking Crew. Larry Knechtel (Bread fame), Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, Hal Blaine, Billy Strange and Carol Kaye are just a handful of the f...more
SA
Nov 12, 2012 SA rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
This was fantastic. I heard about it on the radio and eventually picked it up at the library. I was fascinated by this subculture I'd never heard about before--the Detroit scene, the Nashville and Memphis scenes, those I had some familiarity with from my love of mid-century music, but I didn't know about the LA scene at all until I read Hartman's book. It was great, really well structured, floating in and out of different individual's lives and tying things together through music. I was frantica...more
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