Audie Award Winner, History, 2013
If you were a fan of popular music in the 1960s and early '70s, you were a fan of the Wrecking Crew - whether you knew it or not.
On hit record after hit record, by everyone from the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees to the Grass Roots, the 5th Dimension, Sonny & Cher, and Simon & Garfunkel, this collection of West Coast studio musicians from diverse backgrounds established themselves as the driving sound of pop music - sometimes over the objection of actual band members forced to make way for Wrecking Crew members.
Industry insider Kent Hartman tells the dramatic, definitive story of the musicians who forged a reputation throughout the business as the secret weapons behind the top recording stars. Mining invaluable interviews, the author follows the careers of such session masters as drummer Hal Blaine and keyboardist Larry Knechtel, as well as trailblazing bassist Carol Kaye, who went on to play in thousands of recording sessions. Listeners will discover the Wrecking Crew members who would forge careers in their own right, including Glen Campbell and Leon Russell, and learn of the relationship between the Crew and such legends as Phil Spector and Jimmy Webb.
Hartman also takes us inside the studio for the legendary sessions that gave us Pet Sounds, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and the rock classic “Layla”, which Wrecking Crew drummer Jim Gordon cowrote with Eric Clapton for Derek and the Dominos. And the author recounts priceless scenes, such as Mike Nesmith of the Monkees facing off with studio head Don Kirshner, Grass Roots lead guitarist (and future star of The Office) Creed Bratton getting fired from the group, and Michel Rubini unseating Frank Sinatra's pianist for the session in which the iconic singer improvised the hit-making ending to “Strangers in the Night”.
The Wrecking Crew tells the collective, behind-the-scenes stories of the artists who dominated Top-40 radio during the most exciting time in American popular culture.
©2012 Kent Hartman (P)2012 Tantor
"[The Wrecking Crew] has the...potent excitement of a collection of greatest hits. It makes good music sound better." (Janet Maslin, The New York Times)
Top 40 Titan
The stories behind the songs, meeting the performers, knowing what was happening behind the scenes as I listened to the radio during my childhood. Amazing.
Hal Blaine seems beyond words - what a star.
The soundtrack of a decade!
Great listen, great book. Wow!
tired of typos
Yes. In the right mood, I could overlook some of the narrator's problems and enjoy the wonderful stories behind great records.
Not without listening carefully to a sample. Once again, a good story about rock music is dragged down by a rather affected, old-fart style of narration. Why do American audiobooks insist on doing this? British narrators seem to have a gift for getting tones right, and for doing pretty good imitations of main characters. Miller "imitates" women characters by simply raising the pitch of his voice--pretty lame and pretty offensive. His "southern" characters sound like caricatures. He should skip the imitations (although his Richard Harris moments were kind of fun).
Finally, would someone please EDIT, direct, or correct these narrators who mispronounce famous names and titles (such as Betty Friedan and "What'd I Say"). A whole section on Ray Charles and his most famous song title is mispronounced!
I wish a second volume would be written with even more detail.
All I can say is WOW. Yes it's a story about the Wrecking Crew but it's also a story about the music industry, a very inside look. Excellent job.
Absolutely not. The writing is lazy, unimaginative, and just poor. Phrases like "Don Peak found the guitar, or did the guitar find him?" are literally in this book. I may be more used to academic writing when it comes to music, but this goes far beyond lazy and terrible.
For the writing and performance - NEVER.
For the actual story being told - yes.
His Phil Hartman-like voice makes every statement sound like the most important thing that happens in this book. But the voices...? Are you kidding? Not only does EVERY young member of the wrecking crew sound like a timid teenager lucky to own an instrument, but notice Phil Spector go from timid teen (a la above) to totally disinterested New Yorker. And please do not do women's voices. Please don't.
The narrator and writer.
This is an incredible story. I'm about halfway finished with it and really want to finish it, but oh my gosh it is so bad. The only thing keeping me is my fascination with Los Angeles and the music. I really wish this was a better researched book. I would much prefer research over completely made up, over the top, narratives that have no grounding whatsover. It's ridiculous. This reads like a Sports Illustrated for Kids (remember that magazine??) article from 1990. It's just plain bad. The topic really deserves a robust, well researched look. This absolutely is not it.
Wish the author were a better, more inquisitive reporter with a stronger sense of who on the music scene of that era really mattered. In other words, more about legendary recording sessions, e.g., "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Pet Sounds," and less Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. Hartman also devotes as much time to book-report style recitations of the early lives of folks like the late Tommy Tedesco, guitarist extraordinaire, whose childhood was mercifully ordinary as he does to those who lived truly unusual lives, e.g. Glen Campbell and Phil Spector.
Only the hardest of the hard-core music fans in which case, come to think of it, they probably know the history better than Hartman does.
Read all the parts in his own, natural voice! Listening to Dan John Miller do bassist Carol Kaye, Brian Wilson's girlfriend and Tommy Tedesco's mother in the high falsetto one more often associates with Flip Wilson's Geraldine or any of Monty Python's female characters is truly horrifying.
The musicians who made up the Wrecking Crew deserve a different, better book by a more gifted reporter and writer. This book has a quickie, knock-it-out feel.
I think I've said enough.
Interesting, interesting, interesting...
Like many others, I thought bands played their instruments on their recordings. Clearly, they didn't. These musicians are truly the unsung magicians who had different technology than today. Their humble stories are amazing.
History of many, many songs and those who played on the records.
Hard to believe nobody knew about this...
I'm open to any book as long as it is true to itself.
Completely compelling, addictive material in this book. The stories behind the music and musicians is utterly fascinating. The writing is not great, but the subject matter speaks for itself. This has changed my view of the music industry forever.
light, enjoyable, informative
Atlantic Records: The House the Ahmet Built
The anecdotes that make up this book were amusing, and I learned a lot about the music studio scene in LA in the 60s and early 70s. If you like pop music trivia, you'll probably enjoy it. On the other hand, I thought the writing was pretty hackneyed and unnecessarily repetitive. The performance was ok, but I was sort of annoyed that Dan John Miller read all quotes from women in exactly the same soft, high-pitched voice. He sort of did the same thing with some of the men, trying to distinguish voices but not really pulling it off -- Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, and Phil Spector, for instance, sound exactly the same. I enjoyed this audiobook overall, though.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.