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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"[ 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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Good story, problematic narration

Would you listen to The Wrecking Crew again? Why?

Yes. In the right mood, I could overlook some of the narrator's problems and enjoy the wonderful stories behind great records.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Dan John Miller?

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!

Any additional comments?

I wish a second volume would be written with even more detail.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Awful! Great story, but awful writing@

Would you try another book from Kent Hartman and/or Dan John Miller?

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.

Would you recommend The Wrecking Crew to your friends? Why or why not?

For the writing and performance - NEVER.
For the actual story being told - yes.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

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.

What character would you cut from The Wrecking Crew?

The narrator and writer.

Any additional comments?

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

The inside story remains a secret

Is there anything you would change about this book?

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.

Would you recommend The Wrecking Crew to your friends? Why or why not?

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.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

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.

Do you think The Wrecking Crew needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

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.

Any additional comments?

I think I've said enough.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Dann
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 11-17-15

Learned things I didn't know

And I grew up in the LA area and played in bands during that whole era. WOW, an eye opener to what went on behind closed doors and the people you would never suspect that started their careers as studio musicians. Great book. Good listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Tex
  • Alvin, TX, United States
  • 10-25-15

Enlightening and entertaining!

This was a good story and well narrated. I listened on my smart phone, and paused to play the referenced songs (via Amazon Prime Music). That made for a memorable experience!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Gudrun
  • Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, Canada
  • 04-18-14

The subject in this book is absolutely fascinating

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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For Music Fans

I was in my 20's during the time period covered in this book. I remember all of these songs very well. As much as I loved music, I didn't have much talent for it. I believe that is why I have so much appreciation and respect for people who are excellent musicians. I attended many concerts. All I needed to be entertained was a good band who could play well in a live show. I had the pleasure of seeing Leon Russell (part of the Wrecking Crew) perform live with his own band. I remember it as one of the best live performances I ever saw.

The performance by Dan John Miller is very good.







1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Love music? You'll love this book!

I love rock n roll history so this was a very easy listen! I appreciated the background stories about the different players in addition to the great content about the in studio experiences. No complaints about the narration either. Very interesting and entertaining!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Loved It.

Really enjoyed this book. I listened along with my Amazon Music account so I was able to access nearly every song mentioned. This music was the sound track of my childhood and teen years. It gave this music a new demension. It opened up my ears to music I had previously just over looked. I will get Kent Hartman's next book "Goodnight L.A." as soon as it is available .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A very entertaining an eye-opening book

Who doesn't love rock and roll? As I was listening to this book I found myself frequently stopping to search YouTube to pull up each song. The book gave me a lot more insight and meaning to the songs that I have loved my entire life. I'm very happy that I chose to listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful