Paul Levinson

1960s-1970s music career

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buy an original, mint 1972 vinyl of Paul's LP Twice Upon a Rhyme

The New Outlook circa 1966

Growing up in New York City - the Bronx - in the 1950s, Paul had an abiding interest in rock 'n' roll - as a fan, of course, but also as a singer and songwriter. As a kid he put together a doo-wap group called "Little Levie and the Emeralds" and he had a succession of such groups throughout his teens including "The Transits" and "The New Outlook" (who later recorded a few songs as "The Other Voices"), singing on Bronx street corners, at local venues, and around the city. Here's an old publicity photo circa 1966 of "The New Outlook" featuring Ira Margolis, Stu Nitekman, and Paul Levinson in matching turtlenecks, singing their three-part harmony for the camera.

By the late 1960s to early 1970s Paul pursued his interest professionally, as a songwriter, singer and record producer, and was fortunate to work with music business greats ranging from Ellie Greenwich to Murray the K, Jimmy Krondes, Boris Midney, Herb Abramson, Wolfman Jack and others, writing songs solo and with partners, recording, producing, singing.

His songwriting career featured recordings on Atlantic, Columbia, Reprise and other major record labels by various artists -- including the hit group The Vogues. Here's how that happened: when The Vogues signed with Reprise Records in 1967, they and their producer, Dick Glasser, were looking for new material. Glasser heard Paul's song, "Unbelievable (Inconceivable You)," and thought it could work for them. The Vogues recorded "Unbelievable" on one of their first sessions for Reprise. But they also recorded "Turn Around, Look at Me" on that session, and Reprise decided to release that first. It was a big hit, and took The Vogues in a different direction -- a bigger pop, softer, Lettermen-like sound. "Unbelievable" was never released. But you can listen to it here...

One of the people Paul occasionally wrote songs with was an unknown young writer named Linda Kaplan - Paul and Linda wrote a handful of songs, with Paul writing lyrics and Linda writing music. Paul was one of the first to notice Linda's songwriting talents - she went on, as Linda Kaplan Thaler, to become a prominent, award-winning force in advertising circles, including writing the Toys 'R' Us jingle ("I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys 'R' Us kid...") and creating memorable ad campaigns including the squawking AFLAC duck and Clairol Herbal Essences shampoo ("Yes, yes yes!"), through her own very successful ad agency, the Kaplan Thaler Group. One of Paul and Linda's collaborations from 1968 was a song called "Not Yet Ready to Say Goodbye" which later appeared on Paul's 1972 LP record album, Twice Upon a Rhyme.

Twice Upon a Rhyme

Paul Levinson

with Ed Fox and Peter Rosenthal

released 1972 HappySad Records

Twice Upon a Rhyme was recorded on and off for two years, from 1969 to 1971, and it includes all original material by Paul writing solo and with collaborating writers. Paul is the featured artist, with Ed Fox and Peter Rosenthal, and the album was produced by Paul Levinson and Ed Fox. Released in 1972 on HappySad Records, Twice Upon a Rhyme was a small pressing, distributed around the country, occasionally receiving some airplay, but not really breaking out. Thirty years later, however, much to Paul's delight, the album began showing up from time to time on cult collectors' lists of 1960s music, with copies even appearing on eBay occasionally, and fan mail coming in from European and American collectors.

But then the July 2002 issue of Japan's Record Collectors' Magazine featured Twice Upon a Rhyme in its roundup of American 1960s "Psychedelic Movements". The reviewer, Taro Miyasugi, said, "It's human mystical pop music... wonderful songs." This unexpected tribute led to more interest from a new generation of Japanese collectors, and Paul has been happy to hear from some of these fans.

The album is also listed in the legendary Hans Pokora's 4001 Record Collector Dreams, Vernon Joynson's Fuzz, Acid and Flowers: Comprehensive Guide to American Garage, Psychedelic and Hippie Rock (1964-75), and in Patrick Lundborg's The Acid Archives.

This classic 1972 original 13-track record album is now available for digital download on iTunes, Amazon and eMusic -- individual tracks, or the whole album... This follows the reissue in South Korea by Big Pink-Beatball Records and in Japan by Vivid Records of a CD containing the complete original 13-track album plus three bonus tracks. Copies are available - read all about it!

And a limited number of sealed, unplayed 1972 vintage vinyl copies are still available for purchase by collectors and connoisseurs of the fine sound of mint condition original LPs.

By the early 1970s, Paul's music interest led him to other means of expression - writing. In 1971 he had his first article published, in the Village Voice, called "A Vote for McCartney," disagreeing with a sniping review by Voice critic Robert Christgau of one of McCartney's early solo albums. He sent it in as a letter to the Editor, but the Voice liked it so much they published it as an article. The next summer, 1972, the legendary disc jockey Murray the "K" returned to New York City radio. Paul was always a big fan of Murray's, listening to him from the late 1950s on WINS and later WOR-FM. Murray left New York radio in 1967 when WOR-FM changed format, to the sadness of his legions of fans. Murray returned on the July 4th weekend of 1972, with a great show on WNBC-AM. Paul and Tina listened to it all weekend, and loved it. Paul wrote an article about Murray's return which was published in the Village Voice in October of 1972, and the editor titled it "Murray the K in Nostalgia's Noose" -- it was actually a much more positive piece than that would imply. When Murray read it, he loved it and asked Paul to work with him on the radio show -- helping put together some of the "sets" of music which were long one of Murray's trademarks. Paul wrote and recorded "Murray the K's Back in Town" during that time - you can hear Peter Rosenthal on guitars in the demo. Murray played it on his show as a theme song from time to time. Working with Murray the K was one of the highlights of Paul's music business experience. And the thrill of having those articles published led to his long writing career.

Want to know more about Paul's music?

For a complete discography of his songs - and more free MP3s - see his Reverbnation page...

check out his music blog...

and don't miss Paul in an hour-long radio interview that aired in June 2006, talking with Patrick Rands on Boston's WZBC Radio about his music career... including 13 recordings of Paul's songs and featuring a live performance of his new song, "Lime Streets"!

Lyrics and MP3s

Unbelievable (Inconceivable You)

Words and Music by Paul Levinson, 1967
recorded by The Vogues

Unbelievable, inconceivable you
Love came late to me
seems too great to be true

You've brought me sunshine
Sweet wine
So fine
Baby you're mine

Unbelievable, inconceivable you
Crying yesterday
flying high today, ooo

With you here
No fear
No tears
Skys are gonna be clear

Once upon a time, the cloak of night hung over me
Then I heard a chime, a stroke of light shown suddenly

Unbelievable, inconceivable you
Warm as summer rain
sweet as candy cane, too

You make my world bright
So right
Every morning and night

"Not Yet Ready to Say Goodbye"

Words by Paul Levinson; Music by Linda Kaplan, 1968
recorded by Paul Levinson; appearing on Twice Upon a Rhyme album

Things been gettin' worse, lately
Been lovin' in reverse, lately
Almost time to say we've had our fill
Seems from here the road is all downhill
Don't you believe it girl, we've something still

Hey, we're not yet ready to say goodbye
"Sure gonna miss you" just won't get by
Goodbye don't make it
We can't forsake it
We're not yet ready to say goodbye

Life's been down on us, lately
Been causin' quite a fuss, lately
Breakin' up would be the simple cure
But the treatment would be mighty poor
Long, empty evenings never feelin' quite sure


Can't say "so long," it's been so long
Can't say "that's all," cause that's all wrong


"Murray the K's Back in Town"

Words and Music by Paul Levinson, 1972
recorded by Paul Levinson

Five long years of noise and static
No one else could fill his voice
But get your radio down from the attic
Hear this, and rejoice:

Murray the K's back in town
And baby he's playin' all the greatest sounds
Murray's the K's back in town
Come gather 'round

Feast your ears on the '50s and the '60s
Segue into love today
Gonna give your head a lift, he's
back, on the Swingin' Soiree


Now New York City's fun again
We're out there, in the sun again
Submarine racin'
Everyone's makin' out fine, just fine

(Alternate Chorus)
Murray the K's back in town
Sayin' "Ah bey!" (Oh) "Koomma Zowa!"
Hurry, the K's back in town
Come gather 'round

Thanks for listening! Check back here for new MP3s... we'll be changing them every so often...

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Pages written and updated by Tina Vozick. Email her with any questions.

Updated Tuesday February 22 2011