British "Wrecking Crew"?

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by ryco, Jan 24, 2023.

  1. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Was wondering if there was a Bristish equivalent to America's versions of in-studio players playing and arranaging the Brit hit singles.
    The US had the Wrecking Crew, The Funk Bros, The Swampers, Booker T & MGs for Stax-Volt, etc.
    Know Jimmy Page and JPJ were on some British pop/rock cuts. But was there a British stable backing the hits? American labels used pro players to save time and money in the studio while the bands went out on tour to promote their latest recordings.
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  2. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I don't know abput a complete band or rhythm section, but Herbie Flowers was probably the first-call bass player around the same time. Seems he played with every man and his dog...
    Herbie Flowers - Wikipedia
  3. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    Don't know about Brit equivalents, but perhaps Mo Foster would have been part of one if there was.

    Mo Foster Website
  4. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Thinkin' piano man Nicky Hopkins was on a lot of early hits for The Kinks, The Who, Jeff Beck, Rolling Stones, et al.
    But did Parlaphone/EMI or Decca have a studio stable?
    Or maybe it was more individual "First call" players -- but that's pretty much what the Wrecking Crew was, lots of good players for each instrument and multi-instrumentalists ----- and Hal Blaine :roflmao: playing basically for all of the labels.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2023
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  5. Yes, the "Wrecking Crew" was a name someone gave the group of first call studio players, I don't recall when that name was first used, but they never really called themselves that. I think it was an observation made by one of them - that they'd just come in and knock things out like a wrecking crew. And then it stuck.

    This is one of Carol Kaye's big gripes with it; it makes them sound like an organized band when they were really a bunch of session players who came in on call.

    That being said, I'm sure there were studio equivalents to those players in Britain, and several have been named.
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  6. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    Britain is relatively small compared to the States, and the musician pool is smaller too.
    One thing I notice is that a lot of the in-demand sidemen had been doing sessions for years. I'm sure their were many crossover sessions where the same people were there repeatedly.
    Simon Phillips, Mo Foster, Andy Fairweather-Lowe, Nick Lowe, Pino Palladino, Steve Barnacle, Gary Barnacle, Pete Barnacle, Ray Cooper, Norman Watt-Roy, Robbie Blunt, Chris Stainton, David Paton, Danny Thompson etc..
    Their names crop up on a lot of recordings.
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  7. It is, but the wrecking crew was not "the states," they were all based in Los Angeles.
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  8. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    You can go around and around on this forever. Were what is now called "The Funk Brothers" were all session guys. I mean, Nashville has A-list and B-list but as Michael Rhodes says "you tend to play with the guys you came up with." They play together a lot. Are they a band? Naaah.
    Yeah, they were local. The product they made, though--that sold pretty well. All around the world. (Please let's not talk about royalties.)
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  9. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Britain had more individual musicians that wouldn't called. Remember, those house bands worked primarily for one record label, and the big labels were in the states.
  10. Ian Maclagan did a lot of session work after the Small Faces.
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  11. No argument on any of this. It's a point of contention among those who were involved; it's unlikely that we on the outside will nail it down perfectly.

    The records produced in Britain included many big sellers in the the US, so everyone sold internationally and I'm not sure what points are to be gained in this line of discussion.

    The person I was responding to seemed to be equating the Wrecking Crew with all of the US, with an implication that this would make some sort of difference in comparing this with Britain.

    All of the US would include Nashville, New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, LA, San Francisco, New Orleans, and places like Muscle Shoals and Sun Studios in Memphis. My response was to suggest that it was not that; that the Wrecking Crew was local to one city in the US, for whatever that might be worth to scaling things in this discussion. That's not untrue, is it?
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2023
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  12. Dr_Sleepy

    Dr_Sleepy Supporting Member

    Feb 15, 2012
    SF Bay Area- East Bay
    The Police were some killer session guys. Also anyone associated with KPM and other library labels.
  13. b/o 402

    b/o 402

    Jul 14, 2015
    DC & MD
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  14. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

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  15. KenD

    KenD Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2020
    Vancouver Island
    Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones were highly successful session players in London before Page formed Led Zeppelin.
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  16. Vic Flick played on tons of British product..
    Thats his guitar on the James Bond theme..and Ringos theme from Hard Days Night.
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  17. Guitalia


    Jun 7, 2008
    Baltimore, MD
    When Jack Bruce sat down for an "Invisible Jukebox" installment for Wire magazine (I think), the first record they played (interviewees were meant to listen, guess the artist, and then free-associate) was something by Led Zeppelin. He immediately asked, "Why are you playing me session musicians?" Presumably jokingly.

    Joke or not, that was a bit rich coming from him. He played plenty of sessions himself early on, mostly on upright. (Didn't start playing electric bass until Ernest Ranglin said that that's what he wanted Bruce to play in his sessions.)
  18. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    Right on all counts. There were lots of "scenes." I was trying--not very well--to point out that while Los Angeles was a local scene, the music went everywhere. As it did from each of the cities and studios you mention. And just now sort of depressed that I put it all in the past tense without thinking about it. Popular music now really does sound all the same, since so much of it comes from just a handful of producers. See also: The Song Machine.
    Sample text:

    Most of the songs played on Top Forty radio are collaborations between producers like Stargate and “top line” writers like Ester Dean. The producers compose the chord progressions, program the beats, and arrange the “synths,” or computer-made instrumental sounds; the top-liners come up with primary melodies, lyrics, and the all-important hooks, the ear-friendly musical phrases that lock you into the song. “It’s not enough to have one hook anymore,” Jay Brown, the president of Roc Nation, and Dean’s manager, told me recently. “You’ve got to have a hook in the intro, a hook in the pre-chorus, a hook in the chorus, and a hook in the bridge.” The reason, he explained, is that “people on average give a song seven seconds on the radio before they change the channel, and you got to hook them.”
  19. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Shaker Heights, OH
    For bass check out Brian Odgers and Herbie Flowers.
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  20. Hummergeist

    Hummergeist Commercial User

    Jul 21, 2020
    Tutorials, reviews, and interviews for Future Publishing.
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