Highlights from BBC Radio Scotland's live music show.

The Quay Sessions - Netflix

Type: Variety

Languages: English

Status: Running

Runtime: 30 minutes

Premier: 2015-12-30

The Quay Sessions - The Wrecking Crew (music) - Netflix

The Wrecking Crew was a loose collective of session musicians based in Los Angeles whose services were employed for thousands of studio recordings in the 1960s and early 1970s, including several hundred Top 40 hits. The musicians were not publicly recognized in their era, but were viewed prestigiously among industry insiders. They are now considered one of the most successful and prolific session recording units in music history. Most of the players associated with the Wrecking Crew had formal backgrounds in jazz or classical music. The group had no official name in their active years, and it remains a subject of dispute whether or not they were referred to as “the Wrecking Crew” at the time. Drummer Hal Blaine popularized the name in a 1990 memoir, attributing it to older musicians who felt that the group's embrace of rock and roll was going to “wreck” the music industry. Some of Blaine's colleagues corroborated his account, while guitarist and bassist Carol Kaye contends that the Clique was the term used. Another unofficial name was the First Call Gang, sometimes used in the 1950s for an embryonic version of the group headed by bassist Ray Pohlman which featured some of the same musicians. The unit coalesced in the early 1960s as the de facto house band for Phil Spector, contributing to the development of his Wall of Sound production methods. Largely due to the success of Spector's records, they became the most requested session musicians in Los Angeles, playing behind many popular recording artists such as Jan & Dean, Sonny & Cher, the Mamas & the Papas, the 5th Dimension, Frank Sinatra, and Nancy Sinatra. The musicians were sometimes used as “ghost players” on recordings credited to rock groups, such as the Byrds' debut rendition of Bob Dylan's “Mr. Tambourine Man” (1965), the first two albums by the Monkees, and the Beach Boys' 1966 album Pet Sounds. They were also occasionally credited as the Phil Spector Wall of Sound Orchestra for a few of his later records. The Wrecking Crew's contributions on so many hit recordings went largely unnoticed until the publication of Blaine's memoir and the attention that followed. Keyboardist Leon Russell and guitarist Glen Campbell were members who became popular solo acts, while Blaine is reputed to have played on more than 140 top-ten hits, including approximately 40 number-one hits. Other musicians who formed the unit's ranks were drummer Earl Palmer, saxophonist Steve Douglas, guitarist Tommy Tedesco, and keyboardist Larry Knechtel who became a member of Bread. Blaine and Palmer were among the inaugural “sidemen” inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, while the entire Wrecking Crew was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2007. In 2008, they were the subject of the documentary The Wrecking Crew.

The Quay Sessions - Associated producers - Netflix

The Wrecking Crew proceeded to work with dozens of other producers, such as Brian Wilson, Terry Melcher, Lou Adler, Bones Howe, Jimmy Bowen, and Mike Post. As side players, they were teamed with artists as diverse as Jan & Dean, Bobby Vee, Nancy Sinatra, the Grass Roots, Simon & Garfunkel, Glen Campbell, the Partridge Family, David Cassidy (in his solo work), the Carpenters, John Denver and Nat King Cole. During this heady period the unit worked long hours—15-hour days were not unusual—but they were paid exceedingly well. Carol Kaye commented, “I was making more money than the President”. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys produced and co-wrote many of their most famous tracks, and used the Wrecking Crew's talents extensively in the mid-1960s, including on songs such as “Help Me, Rhonda”, “California Girls”, and “Good Vibrations” as well as several of their album projects of the period, including Pet Sounds and the original sessions for Smile. Members of the Wrecking Crew served as “ghost players” on the first single by the Byrds, “Mr. Tambourine Man”, because Columbia Records—namely, producer Terry Melcher—did not feel that the group (except for Roger McGuinn) were seasoned enough to deliver the kind of perfect take needed, particularly in light of the limited time and budget allocated to the newly signed and unproven group—on a label that was only just beginning to embrace rock. Lou Adler was one of Los Angeles' top music executives and produced records by acts such as Jan and Dean and The Mamas & the Papas, which were often backed by the Wrecking Crew, as on “California Dreamin'” and “Monday Monday”. Bones Howe had worked as an engineer under Adler and used the Wrecking Crew when he produced hits by the Association (including “Windy”, “Along Comes Mary”, and “Never My Love”) and the 5th Dimension (including “Up, Up and Away”, “Stoned Soul Picnic”, and “Aquarius”). Sonny and Cher recorded several Wrecking Crew-backed hits including “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On”, which were produced by Sonny Bono, who had previously worked as Phil Spector's aide. Many of Cher's solo records in the 1960s and early 1970s featured the backing of the Wrecking Crew, such as “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves” produced by Snuff Garrett in 1971. Jimmy Bowen produced Frank Sinatra's “Strangers in the Night” in 1966 and Mike Post produced Mason Williams' 1968 hit “Classical Gas”, both of which were backed by members of the Wrecking Crew.

The Quay Sessions - References - Netflix