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Author Topic: The Wrecking Crew  (Read 971 times)

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The Wrecking Crew
« on: April 03, 2014, 04:24:55 AM »




The Wrecking Crew was a nickname coined by drummer Hal Blaine for a group of studio and session musicians that played anonymously on many records in Los Angeles, California during the 1960s. The crew backed dozens of popular singers, and were one of the most successful groups of studio musicians in music history.

Members of 'The Wrecking Crew' included:

Guitar: Glen Campbell, Barney Kessel, Tommy Tedesco, Al Casey, Carol Kaye, Billy Strange, Rene Hall, Don Peake, Howard Roberts, James Burton, Jerry Cole, Bill Aken, Mike Deasy,
          Doug Bartenfeld, Ray Pohlman, Bill Pitman, Irv Rubins, Louie Shelton, John Goldthwaite, and Al Vescovo.
Saxophone: Steve Douglas, Jay Migliori, Jim Horn, Plas Johnson, Nino Tempo, and Gene Cipriano.
Trumpet: Roy Caton, Tony Terran, Ollie Mitchell, Bud Brisbois, and Chuck Findley.
Trombone: Lou Blackburn, Richard "Slyde" Hyde, and Lew McCreary.
Keyboards: Leon Russell, Mac Rebennack (aka Dr. John), Mike Melvoin, Don Randi, Larry Knechtel, Al De Lory, and Mike (Michel) Rubini.
Bass: Carol Kaye, Joe Osborn, Max Bennett, Chuck Berghofer, Ray Pohlman, Larry Knechtel, Lyle Ritz, Red Callender, Jimmy Bond, and Bill Pitman.
Drums: Hal Blaine, Earl Palmer, Jim Gordon, and Jim Keltner.
Percussion: Julius Wechter, Gary L. Coleman, and Frank Capp.
Conductor/arranger: Jack Nitzsche
Harmonica: Tommy Morgan

The Ron Hicklin Singers often performed backup vocals on many of the same songs on which The Wrecking Crew had played instrumental tracks.

Though not an official member, Sonny Bono did hang out and contribute to sessions recorded by the Crew.


The Wrecking Crew: Movie Trailer


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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2014, 04:28:40 AM »

Sloop John B The Beach Boys (WIDE STEREO Remix)


Carol Kaye on bass
Billy Strange on 12-string guitar
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oldbrownshoe

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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2014, 06:37:20 AM »

I once saw a list of records that those guys were on and it's extraordinary, their only rivals probably being the Motown and Stax house bands.

One thing that's always puzzled me.....
It was common practice in the 60s that session musicians would drop in on a group's recordings, The Beach Boys even went on tour to leave Brian and the Wrecking Crew to get on with recording back in California. 
So why did The Monkees (initially a pretend group for a TV series remember) get so much criticism when the press 'discovered' that they didn't play every note on all of their recordings?
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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2014, 05:03:54 PM »

One thing that's always puzzled me.....
It was common practice in the 60s that session musicians would drop in on a group's recordings, The Beach Boys even went on tour to leave Brian and the Wrecking Crew to get on with recording back in California. 
So why did The Monkees (initially a pretend group for a TV series remember) get so much criticism when the press 'discovered' that they didn't play every note on all of their recordings?
Contrary to popular belief, The Beach Boys in fact did play a lot of the instruments up until their 10th album (Pet Sounds was their 11th). So they do deserve some credit as performing musicians, quite a bit more than they usually get.
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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2014, 05:10:49 PM »

But yeah, some of the Wrecking Crew guys (and girl) are among pop music's greatest unsung heroes. Hal Blaine for instance played drums on 50 number 1 hits and on 6 consecutive Grammy Record of the Year winners. The guy played on some of the greatest Elvis, Sinatra, Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkel songs and hardly anyone knows his name.
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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2014, 09:38:57 PM »

I once saw a list of records that those guys were on and it's extraordinary, their only rivals probably being the Motown and Stax house bands.

One thing that's always puzzled me.....
It was common practice in the 60s that session musicians would drop in on a group's recordings, The Beach Boys even went on tour to leave Brian and the Wrecking Crew to get on with recording back in California. 
So why did The Monkees (initially a pretend group for a TV series remember) get so much criticism when the press 'discovered' that they didn't play every note on all of their recordings?


This was precisely the question I asked Peter Tork when I met him during my chief residency in 1981.  He reminded me of the friction that existed between the individual members of The Monkees who really wanted to express their song writing and musical abilities and the producers of the show who were after a marketable product.  That type of thing made for good reading in the limited amount of press extant at the time.  He mentioned being happy when they were finally permitted to express themselves by early 1967.

They were very much in the public eye from 1966 until 1970 with a weekly television show, several albums, tours and the motion picture Head.  And those were very evolutionary years for music.  I guess it was hard wanting to go psychedelic when they had a certain image the TV studios wanted them to maintain.  It wasn't easy for them!

I had the chance to talk with him for about a half hour.  Then I shyly asked him for an autograph for my sister...


   
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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2014, 09:58:45 PM »

Contrary to popular belief, The Beach Boys in fact did play a lot of the instruments up until their 10th album (Pet Sounds was their 11th). So they do deserve some credit as performing musicians, quite a bit more than they usually get.

Hi Joost!  I was a teenager during the 60s and knew they played their instruments well and were a good band.  They made enough on tour and on TV to prove that.  We saw them evolving and knew they were not playing the brass, woodwinds, violins and harpsichord we were beginning to hear on their albums by 1965.  I thought it was very exciting.  Even their vocals became more complicated.  Together, the instrumentals and vocals were a wonder to hear and experience.
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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2014, 10:03:18 PM »

But yeah, some of the Wrecking Crew guys (and girl) are among pop music's greatest unsung heroes. Hal Blaine for instance played drums on 50 number 1 hits and on 6 consecutive Grammy Record of the Year winners. The guy played on some of the greatest Elvis, Sinatra, Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkel songs and hardly anyone knows his name.


Brian knew what he wanted.  The Wrecking Crew was able to provide it...


Behind The Sounds: God Only Knows Part 1



Behind The Sounds: God Only Knows Part 2
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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2014, 02:41:29 AM »

I once saw a list of records that those guys were on and it's extraordinary, their only rivals probably being the Motown and Stax house bands.


Here's a partial list:  The Wrecking Crew Song List

Clicking on DETAILS next to each song brings up the American Federation of Musicians recording session contract which lists musicians' names.
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In My Life

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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2014, 03:03:23 AM »

Great Music Really Recorded by The Wrecking Crew

Nice thread Barry. I've been thinking someone should do it!
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Kelley

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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2014, 03:21:59 AM »

Great Music Really Recorded by The Wrecking Crew

Nice thread Barry. I've been thinking someone should do it!


The Partridge Family Album appears on that list, Kelley...


The Partridge Family - I Think I Love You



I got a kick out of the line that appears next to the album: 

Okay, so you're not surprised that The Wrecking Crew was really playing instead of the kids that were supposedly in this band. It does go to show how shallow some of us music snobs are when we write off the Partridge Family as not serious, but pretend that The Byrds were geniuses.
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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2014, 03:45:05 AM »

The Partridge Family Album appears on that list, Kelley...


The Partridge Family - I Think I Love You

The Power of Women was no match for Keith when he asserted his manhood! I just heard this song on Pandora last night. It was one of three in a row with The Wrecking Crew.


Quote
I got a kick out of the line that appears next to the album: 

Okay, so you're not surprised that The Wrecking Crew was really playing instead of the kids that were supposedly in this band. It does go to show how shallow some of us music snobs are when we write off the Partridge Family as not serious, but pretend that The Byrds were geniuses.

So did I Barry. I always took The Partridge Family very seriously.  ;)
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Kelley

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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2014, 03:49:03 AM »

Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made for Walkin' (1966)


“It sure is a famous song. Jim Gordon played the drums. He was a brilliant drummer back in the day. And that’s Chuck Berghofer on double bass along with me – I’m playing electric bass.

“Chuck was asked to play the sliding part that’s pretty much the hook of the song. It took him a few passes to get it just right, where it’s more of a hesitation instead of a straight slide. I’m backing him up on the parts with a Fender Precision. People were very surprised to learn that I could get the right clicks between the notes on an electric.

“Nancy liked two basses on her songs. That might’ve come from Billy Strange, who did the arrangement. But it worked. You needed a strong bottom end on a song like this. Boy, what a hit, huh? You couldnt turn on the radio at one point without hearing 'Boots.'”
                                                                                                  Carol Kaye





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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2014, 04:09:35 AM »

So did I Barry. I always took The Partridge Family very seriously.  ;)


I took them very seriously too, until I interviewed...



 :)






The Wrecking Crew

The Wrecking Crew - Making of Good Vibrations

Making of Good Vibrations




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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2014, 04:18:10 AM »

I took them very seriously too, until I interviewed...



 :)



Oh Barry! 
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Kelley

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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2014, 04:44:01 AM »

Oh Barry! 


Just one look, that's all it took, yeah!
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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2014, 12:13:43 PM »

Too bad though that Carol Kaye has been giving herself a terrible reputation in more recent years. Yes, she played on a mind-boggling amount of classic hit songs. No, she never really got the credit she deserved. And yes, she has every right to stand up for herself and her legacy. But it seems she's been taking it quite a bit too far by also claiming quite some important bass parts while there's overwhelming evidence that they aren't hers. She's especially notorious for claiming many classic Motown hits that she couldn't possibly have played on. She's also known for being pretty hostile towards anyone who dares to point out that sometimes she just might be, let's put this nicely, misremembering certain things.

But Brian Wilson seemed to be quite fond of her. In fact, the working title for 'The Little Girl I Once Knew' was 'Carol K'.
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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2014, 03:20:15 PM »

^^^

Yes, I've come across that information too. It's hard to say for sure what the undisputed truth is in cases like these.
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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2014, 06:36:23 PM »

^^^

Yes, I've come across that information too. It's hard to say for sure what the undisputed truth is in cases like these.


Not always. Check out this story for instance (source: http://www.bassland.net/jamerson.html)

Quote
"Who Played "I Was Made to Love" Her?
The Carol Kaye-James Jamerson Enigma"


He was dead, buried, and forgotten. Even 99% of the bass players in the world had no idea who he was. But in the last seven years, his life and music have been center stage amidst an explosion of newspaper and magazine articles (more than 350 worldwide), a long overdue biography, and an upcoming film documentary. The Fender custom shop has made a signature bass in his name, flatwound strings have begun selling again, and in the last two years, the recording company that had employed him for a decade and a half finally gave him official recognition in the liner notes of 3 recent historical CD box sets.

After three decades of obscurity, musicians and music lovers throughout the world were discovering the holy grail of the bass world-James Jamerson, the tormented genius whose earthquake-heavy bass lines fueled the Motown hit machine through the '60s and early '70s. Even though it was posthumous, he was finally getting his long overdue recognition.

And everyone lived happily ever after, right? Not exactly. As Jamerson rose in prominence, his reputation was given a serious challenge through the media by another icon of the bass, Carol Kaye. Well aware of her claims through the years about her recording sessions with the Supremes, Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, and other stars in Berry Gordy's stable, I contacted her in 1987 when I first began my research for STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson. This was done out of the highest regard for Carol's monumental achievements and contributions to the bass, and popular music in general. My intention was to find out first-hand what she had played on so I could avoid stepping on her toes.

I had expected her to name a few significant hits but was floored when she laid claim to "Bernadette", "Reach Out", "Baby Love", "I Was Made to Love Her", "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Dancing In the Streets", "Can't Help Myself", and dozens of others Motown classics-in short, the majority of James Jamerson's signature performances.

At that point I decided to rethink the entire project. If I could substantiate Carol's allegations, I would write the book about her instead of Jamerson. I expected my research to turn up pros and cons for each player's position, along with the usual grey areas you can expect when researching multiple claims to the same material. Instead, what I found was overwhelmingly conclusive evidence that James Jamerson played the tunes in question. Here are the facts that my research turned up:

1) The songwriting-production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland attested to the fact that James Jamerson played on almost every one of their productions, and they never allowed others to produce songs that they had written. Brian Holland signed a notarized affidavit categorically stating that "Bernadette", "Reach Out", "Can't Help Myself", "Keep Me Hanging On", "Standing in the Shadows of Love", "Reflections", "Baby Love", "Back In My Arms Again", "Come See About Me", and "Can't Hurry Love", (all tunes claimed by Carol) were in fact, played by James Jamerson. Most damning was his statement that he had never even heard of Carol Kaye.

2) Smokey Robinson who wrote or produced probably 30-40 percent of Motown's biggest hits also denied that she had any major role in the Motown story, and had no part at all on the songs in question.

3) The performance credit that Carol has pursued with the greatest tenacity over the years is the bass part on Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made to Love Her". Hank Cosby who co-wrote, produced it, and who, in his own words, "was there every step of the way from the writing of the song to the day the 45's were shipped", vehemently denied any participation by Carol Kaye on this recording. Cosby added, "Fifty percent of the song was James Jamerson's bass line. No one played like that but Jamerson." Cosby also signed an affidavit similar to Brian Holland's attesting to Jamerson's performance.

*********Point-Counterpoint: Carol's Side of the Story**********


1) The Politics of Race and Gender-Carol contends that Motown was afraid to admit that a white female bassist was the driving force behind some of their biggest hits. They wanted to push a black male agenda.

There are two faults with this argument. First of all, when it came to musicians, Motown had no racial or gender bias. They were all faceless cogs to them. Regardless of whether they were black, white, female, male, or Martian, they weren't going to get any recognition-period! It was a star driven phenomena and the company never gave the slightest thought to publicizing background figures. In addition, the Motown studio band (which was called the Funk Brothers) was not exclusively black. Guitarists Joe Messina and Dennis Coffey, percussionist Jack Brokensha, arranger Dave Van dePitte, and bassist Bob Babbit, who also played quite a few important Motown dates, were all white.

2) Improvised vs. Written Parts - Her claim to "Reach Out" is based upon her contention that "discerning musicians can hear that the parts weren't improvised. It was a written part". James Jamerson regularly improvised and sight read parts of that complexity. Part of his genius was that he could take a written part and make it sound as if it was his. Regardless of this argument, I have a photocopy of the original Union contract from the "Reach Out" session. It's dated July 6, 1966 (the year of the tune's release), it lists James Jamerson as the bassist (for which he received the princely sum of $61.00), and Detroit's Hitsville studio is indicated as the place where it was recorded. Carol herself admits that she never recorded in Detroit.

3) The West Coast Connection-Carol maintains that a great deal of Motown's output was being cut on the West Coast in Los Angeles.

That is true, but don't forget that Motown also had acts like Tony Martin, James Darren, and Soupy Sales signed to their label. There were also various Broadway and Las Vegas style orchestrated albums produced like the the Temptations in a Mellow Mood and The Four Tops on Broadway, not to mention the constant demand for filler material on albums. There was plenty of work to go around and Detroit could not possibly handle all of it. Frank Wilson who produced hits for Motown in both Detroit and Los Angeles supports Carol's claim that she worked numerous sessions for the company. However, he qualifies it by stating, "They used her a lot but not on the hard core R&B stuff. That stuff came out of Detroit. They didn't like her sound for R&B because she played with a pick. It didn't have that fat round sound that Jamerson got with his fingers."

4) "I Was Made to Love Her"-According to Carol, this tune was recorded at Armin Steiner's studio and she recalls "I didn't like the final written riff that I played high up in unison with the horns. You can also hear where I was scuffling a bit with open strings a couple of times".

Now it starts to get complicated. First of all, the detailed studio log that Carol kept does not support her position. The log lists every date she played from 1963-1971. She painstakingly listed artists, studios, record labels, contractors and arrangers on each date. "I Was Made to Love Her" was released in 1967 which means it was cut in '66 or '67. There are no listings for a session at Steiner's or a Stevie Wonder date during that time span.

As far as "scuffling" around, the performance is perfect. Don't trust my ears. Trust the auditory ability of one of the world's most highly regarded bassists-lifelong Jamerson devotee, Anthony Jackson. He couldn't hear what she was talking about either. The "final written riff played in unison with the horns" argument also is problematic. "I Was Made To Love Her" is rhythm section and strings. There are no horns on that record.

5) Ask My Friends-Carol asked me to talk to Gene Page, Jerry Steinholtz, Earl Palmer, and some of the other studio musicians who played the West Coast Motown sessions with her. She felt they would back up her story.

I didn't just call a few of them. I talked to every one she recommended, naming the songs in question and telling them about Carol's claims. Arranger Gene Page immediately burst out laughing and said, "She said that? No way . . . never. That stuff was all Jamerson". Percussionist Steinholtz remembered playing Motown sessions with Carol but that was as much as he could remember. The closest I got to her viewpoint was with veteran R&B session drummer Earl Palmer who bristled at my suggestion that perhaps they played the demo versions of the songs in question. "Hell no!", he countered. "We weren't playing demos. We were playing hits". The only problem was that he also couldn't remember any song titles.

Now we all know that studio musicians live by their reputations, so remembering hits that they played on is of paramount importance. If they had even remembered one title-just one-I would have had something to pursue, but as it stood, they gave me no material at all to back up her story. Back in Detroit, In stark contrast to my California research, the Funk Brothers remembered everything- song titles, intricate details, times, dates, and fellow musicians on the session and it all revolved around James Jamerson.

6) The Great Cover-Up-Carol has accused many of Motown's producers of conducting illegal non-union, under scale sessions, and in efforts to cover their backs, they refuse to admit working with her.

First of all, if the sessions were illegal, why was a union musician like Carol playing them in direct violation of union rules? Secondly, the Motown story is full of lawsuits and union problems but that doesn't exactly strike fear in their hearts. It's just business as usual. James Jamerson certainly played under scale Motown sessions at different times. Why do these same producers admit working with him?

7) Demos That Became Hits-Amidst the thousand of studio dates in Carol's logs, quite a few are marked as demos and many of those were with Motown. According to her, the company misled the musicians because many of these sessions became the actual records.

Carol may have a legitimate grievance in this instance but not in regard to the songs in question. When the recent Platinum CD Box set The Hitsville Singles Collection was produced two years ago, most of the songs in question were pulled from the vaults and re-mastered. Motown's filing system lists whether the songs were recorded in Detroit or Los Angeles (and in a few instances in New York) on each storage box. All the disputed songs were listed as being cut in Detroit.

During the sixties and seventies, Carol Kaye contributed more to popular music than most musicians, including myself, could hope to equal in several lifetimes. By all accounts of people who know her well, she is also a wonderful, warm, loving person. I have no desire in any way to hurt her or ruin her reputation, but as James Jamerson's biographer, I do have a responsibility to him. James died a brokenhearted alcoholic, tortured by the lack of recognition for his his part in the Motown story. It took the world thirty years to find out and appreciate exactly what he did and I intend to further that recognition to the best of my abilities. If that includes defending him in the face of unfounded attacks on his life's work, so be it.

I'm still open to any information which would change the story and support Carol Kaye's version but so far, I've yet to find a single shred of evidence. I'd even go as far as to say that I wouldn't doubt that somewhere out there, there is some evidence that would support her claims on a few disputed songs.

She has my humblest apologies for the few that I may have missed. But when you're talking about "Bernadette", "Reach Out", "Baby Love", "I Was Made to Love Her", "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Dancing In the Streets", "Can't Help Myself", Standing In The Shadows of Love", "You Keep Me Hangin' On", and dozens of others . . . Sorry Carol. That magical legacy belongs to someone else.
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Re: The Wrecking Crew
« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2014, 11:56:44 PM »

I'm a Wrecking Crew fanatic and cannot wait until the movie comes out. I have the book somewhere, but it's been awhile since I've read it. Hal Blaine is my favorite drummer of all time.
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