The Wrecking Crew
01-19-2012, 11:07 PM, (This post was last modified: 01-20-2012, 01:38 AM by Miguel.)
The Wrecking Crew
The Wrecking Crew was a group of studio musicians in LA who really recorded the music on many of the top rock records of the 1960s and 1970s. They often added enhancements that made the records better. They were also productive. The labels tried having bands record their own music but found it took them weeks to record a hit album while The Wrecking Crew could knock one out in a six-hour session.

Scroll down to see some of the albums The Wrecking Crew played on:

Carol Kaye, bassist, says the kids buying the records would have been shocked to learn the musicians that actually recorded the music were older than their parents.

She also related in an interview how many of them had a jazz background.

Quote:I had decided to take the record date, really just for the money temporarily. My day job was supporting myself, my two kids and my mother (jazz didn't support even the best in those days). But the talk had been that if you began studio work, you can hang up your jazz music career as it "ruins" your jazz chops and my guitar career was off to a flying start with all the work I was getting and all the finest musicians I enjoyed playing with.

...The thinking was in the jazz circles that rock was here to stay, but as many eagerly went into the studio work (because it was steady and paid well), it was noted they didn't come back to playing a lot jazz then. People didn't mind playing rock and roll, it was essentially latin 8/8 with a heavy backbeat, and the rock of say Sam Cooke, Ritchie Valens, etc. was pretty good music. Even the later Herb Alpert music was pretty fair. Then it got to be heavy surf music, Phil Spector, etc., that got a little old to jazzers like Plas Johnson, Howard Roberts, Barney Kessell, etc., but mixed in would be some "nice" dates say with Rosemary Clooney, Sarah Vaughn, those kinds of dates.

We all knew rock was here to stay and we sure had to keep quiet about the fact that most of us were either jazzers or former big-band horn men, we were "rockers" for all intents and purposes to the young producers in the booth, most of whom were nice, but they being sort of new, we didn't want to rock the boat. We would play any way they wanted, as long as they paid -- we all had families to take care of.

...You speak of sound, about our bunch having a distinct sound. Well according to that, I can only say we played HARD, very intensive. Our lives and the lives of our kids and family all depended on that sound. We used to say it was the "hungry" sound. After playing your tail off in tons of nightclubs, being on the road (away from your family) so much of the time in big bands, etc., when you get the chance to work "normally" in your home town in the respected studio work dates, you play very INTENSIVE.

Another aspect of that is that we had all the creativeness, especially the jazz rhythm section players, to CREATE instant arrangements (frameworks of songs for hit records) with licks, patterns, all sorts of ideas bouncing back and forth from us, we knew where to put the quiet parts, the key changes, the breaks, the fills, and the mid-range monotonous hook lines, all sorts of things you do constantly in jazz, which is spontaneous constant improvisation.

Arrangers then learned from our ideas and learned to arrange better and better, but still relied on us for not only our intensive performances but also we could still come up with better lines (much of the time) than what they wrote, certainly we could really pad their arrangements well with more ideas of our own, and this was the secret of the hit sounds of early recorded rock hits in 60s LA.

...We were satisfied with being background session players in those days. It took a lot of guts, pain, and tears to be a star -- so many were treated like meat back then, and it takes a special talent to get up on the stage and be an entertainer for sure, something jazz musicians were not into. We knew some of the lies being put in the trade papers and magazines, but it didn't really matter back then, we just collected our monies at the Union (2-3 weeks later) and went home to our families, that was what was real to us.



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