Monday, September 14, 2015

The Backups Come to the Front of the Rock 'N' Roll Class

As Paul Harvey used to say, "and now for the rest of the story." Here are four documentary films about the business of rock 'n' roll and the backup session players and singers who helped craft the hits we know and love. I recommend you watch all four and you'll better appreciate the people who helped create the arrangements, melody, beat and harmony for many classic recordings without getting much credit for the quality of their work.


The Wrecking Crew - The Wrecking Crew was a group of studio musicians in Los Angeles in the 1960s who played on hits for the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, Sonny and Cher, Jan & Dean, The Monkees, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Mamas and Papas, Tijuana Brass, Ricky Nelson, Johnny Rivers and were Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. The amount of work that they were involved in was tremendous. Watch on Netflix

Standing in the Shadows of MOTOWN -
In 1959, Berry Gordy gathered the best musicians from Detroit's thriving jazz and blues scene to begin cutting songs for his new record company. Over a fourteen year period, they were the heartbeat on "My Girl," "Bernadette," I Was Made to Love Her," and every other hit from Motown's Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, this unheralded group of musicians had played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined. They called themselves the Funk Brothers.
Currently, this documentary only appears available to rent on Amazon for $2.99 here

Muscle Shoals - Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Alabama has helped create some of the most important and resonant songs of all time. Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, Rick Hall brought black and white together to create music for the generations. He is responsible for creating the “Muscle Shoals sound” and The Swampers, the house band at FAME Studios that eventually left to start its own successful studio known as Muscle Shoals Sound. Watch on Netflix



20 Feet From Stardom - Millions know their voices, but no one knows their names. In his compelling new film TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM, award-winning director Morgan Neville shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others. Watch on Netflix

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