‘Variety’ Gives Music Docu ‘The Wrecking Crew’ Thumbs Up

Logo of Documentary \

There’s a positive review of the music documentary The Wrecking Crew on the Variety website. The documentary features some of the Los Angeles studio musicians who recorded many of the hits of the nineteen-sixties.

The film features legendary musicians such as Carol Kaye, Plas Johnson, Tommy Tedesco, Earl Palmer, Hal Blaine, Don Randi and stars like Nancy Sinatra, Cher, Brian Wilson and Glen Campbell.

From Frank Sinatra To Jimi Hendrix: Art Director Ed Thrasher Designed Defining Album Covers

Covers Ed Thrasher

In the nineteen-sixties there was no MTV. Pop and rock stars had to rely on their album covers to build up an image. The LP album cover offered plenty of space to do so. One of the great American album designers and photographer was Ed Thrasher (1932-2006).

In 1957 Ed Thrasher started as graphical artist at Capitol Records and later became art director. In 1964 he went to Warner Bros. Records, where he was responsible for many Reprise Records covers (Reprise Records was founded by Frank Sinatra in 1957 and sold to Warner Bros. Records in 1963).

Ed Thrasher helped initiate a change of paradigm in album design. Until the early nineteen-sixties album covers were not considered art. Usually there was a more or less nice picture of the the artist on the cover. In many cases the artist wasn’t even on the cover, but a female model or dancing teenagers. During the nineteen-sixties cover designs changed. The covers became more diverse and were essential in portraying and marketing the artist’s image.

Ed Thrasher had the talent to adjust to his clients. He found the right approach to every artist. This versatility explains, why he could work for artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra and Jimi Hendrix. For the Joni Mitchell LP “Clouds” Ed Thrasher stayed in the background and used a self-portrait of her for the cover. He also worked as photographer, specializing in music and movie artists. Not only did he shoot the iconic Nancy Sinatra picture for the “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” cover, but also many pictures of her father Frank Sinatra.

Ed Thrasher and Linda Gray

For your daily dose of trivia you may want to know, that Ed Thrasher was married to actress Linda Gray for twenty years (“Dallas”).

So keep your eyes open when you browse through a stack of old records. On many covers you will certainly find written in small letters “Art Direction: Ed Thrasher” or “Photo: Ed Thrasher”.

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The ‘Wrecking Crew’ Movie – Documentary About L.A. Studio Musicians Of The Sixties

Carol Kaye And Tommy Tedesco

Denny Tedesco, son of the late studio guitar master Tommy Tedesco, made a movie called The Wrecking Crew about the great studio musicians of the sixties who worked in the Los Angeles music studios.

It features studio legends Carol Kaye, Plas Johnson, Hal Blaine, Don Randi and many more. Stars like Cher, Nancy Sinatra, and Micky Dolenz (the Monkees) are featured, too.

The documentary will be shown in March at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival and at the SXSW in Austin, Texas. In April it will be shown at the Nashville Film Festival. You can find further information on the Wrecking Crew Movie Homepage.

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Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood: The Forgotten CD

Nancy Sinatra, Billy Strange, Lee Hazlewood
Nancy Sinatra, Billy Strange, Lee Hazlewood

In 2004 Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood (1929–2007) released the great CD “Nancy & Lee 3”. Only problem was, nobody noticed it. It seems, that everything was done not to promote it. It was only released in Australia, there was no international distribution. The cover art work is amateurish, but the music is excellent. At Amazon you have to pay at least $47 to get a copy (a while ago it even cost $99). Not bad for a four year old CD.

CD Cover “Nancy & Lee 3″“Nancy & Lee 3” was recorded in Nashville. It was co-produced and arranged by Billy Strange. He has worked a lot together with Sinatra and Hazlewood in the sixties and seventies. His arrangements made songs like “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”, “Some Velvet Morning” and “Summer Wine” unforgettable. And you can hear Billy Strange’s guitar on Bang, Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).

Of the thirteen songs on “Nancy & Lee 3”, twelve are Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood duets, one song is a Nancy Sinatra solo. Most of the songs are carefully chosen old and new covers, only a few songs are written by Lee Hazlewood.

“Goin’ Down Rockin’” is a Tony Joe White song, “Texas Blue Moon” was written by Texan singer/songwriter Shelley King, “Don’t Let Go” is a Rhythm and Blues classics by Jesse Stone (who also wrote “Shake Rattle and Roll” and “Flip Flop and Fly” for Big Joe Turner). And there’s a nice version of “Save The Last Dance For Me”.

Neatly interwoven into these covers are songs that Lee wrote, like “Strangers, Lovers, Friends”, “Loving You Loving Me”, and “Gypsies And Indians”. The tongue-in-cheek “Is Makin’ A Little Love Out Of The Question” – a song written by Lee Hazlewood and his old friend Tommy Parsons – shows very well the Sinatra-Hazlewood magic, you can feel how they enjoy singing with each other. Another highlight is “She Won’t”, co-written by Duane Eddy. He plays his famous “twanging” guitar on it. Duane Eddy and Lee Hazlewood have known each other since 1954. Lee produced Duane, wrote for him and helped him launch his career.

Together with the albums “Nancy & Lee” (1968) and “Nancy & Lee – Again” (1971) “Nancy & Lee 3” forms a trilogy of timeless music by two great singers. Their music is a wonderful hybrid of Pop, Country, Folk, Novelty, Rhythm And Blues, and Rock. It’s hard to categorize – it’s unique.

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Chuck Berghofer And His Most Famous Bass Slide

Chuck Berghofer

Nancy Sinatra’s «These Boots Are Made For Walkin’» starts with the most famous bass sliding sound that has ever been recorded in pop music.

The song was arranged by Billy Strange and produced by Lee Hazlewood, who also wrote it. The simple, catchy, and ingenious slide was played on string bass by Chuck Berghofer (sometimes you find his name written «Berghoffer»). There’s also an electric bass on «Boots», played by Carol Kaye, that starts after the opening.

Chuck Berghofer (born 1937) is one of the many jazz musicians who helped with their skill to make pop and rock records sound good. In the jazz world Chuck Berghofer played with pianist Pete Jolly and drummer Shelly Manne among others. In the sixties he started playing on countless pop and rock records that were produced in Los Angeles. He kept playing jazz besides his studio work and is still active.

Here is a small sample of artists he played with during his many-sided and at least forty years long recording career as a string and electric bassist: Ella Fitzgerald, Howard Roberts, Merle Haggard, Joni Mitchell, The Beach Boys, Barry Manilow, Jody Miller, Elvis, Frank Zappa, Diane Krall, Michael Bublé, Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige, Dean Martin and many others.

See also: Poem For A Bass Player and Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood: The Forgotten CD

Lee Hazlewood’s Reprise Records Reissued

The Reprise Recordings»

To most people Lee Hazlewood will always be the one who wrote and produced “These Boots Are Made For Walking” for Nancy Sinatra and sang timeless duets such as “Some Velvet Morning» and «Summer Wine” with her.

But Lee Hazlewood was not just Nancy Sinatra’s sidekick. He had a career before and after he worked with Nancy. Before Lee Hazlewood met Nancy Sinatra, he had made a lot of money as a producer and songwriter for Duane Eddy and others. From time to time he released his own records with mostly self-penned songs, but he wasn’t very successful. After his successful Sinatra stint that lasted from 1966 until 1968 he again started releasing his own records. But they mostly went unnoticed by the public. Lee Hazlewood’s last record was released in 2006.

On “Strung Out On Something New: The Reprise Recordings” Rhino-Handmade reissued a limited edition of hard to find material that has been out of print for a long time. The two disc set consists mainly of songs from the Reprise LPs “The N.S.V.I.P.s” (Not So Very Important People)» (1965), “Friday’s Child” (1965) and “Love And Other Crimes” (1968). The collection gives a good impression of Hazlewood’s songwriting craft. He definitively knew how to tell a story. His lyrics are full of wit and melancholy.

“The N.S.V.I.P.s (Not So Very Important People)” has a strong Country and Folk flavor. Lee introduces every song with a short story, and he’s accompanied by acoustic guitars and string bass. “Friday’s Child” (also released as “Houston”) and “Love And Other Crimes” blend Country with a little bit of Blues and Folk-Rock.

Included in the collection are also some weaker songs that he produced and wrote for the teenage-market.

See also: Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood: The Forgotten CD