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Larry Levine
Larry Levine

(In 1952, Larry Levine was hired as an engineer at Gold Star Studios, where he worked on such classic records as Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues," Jerry Wallace's "Primrose Lane" and Toni Fisher's "The Big Hurt," which, he notes, "was the first use of phasing." Starting in 1962, he engineered every classic record (from "He's A Rebel" to "Da Doo Run Run," "Be My Baby," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin" right through to "River Deep, Mountain High")

Phil Spector cut in LA. In 1967, he left Gold Star to go to work at A&M, where he built their new studios and spent nearly a decade as A&M's chief engineer. Before making that move, he had already engineered all but the first two Tijuana Brass albums (winning a Grammy Award for "A Taste Of Honey"), and at A&M, he continued to work in the studio with Herb Alpert. During that time, he worked on such records as the Checkmates' "Black Pearl," Michel Colombier's Wings, Burt Bacharach's soundtrack for "Butch Cassidy..." and virtually every Brasil '66 and Baja Marimba Band record. During the past half-dozen years, he has been working in audio production in Los Angeles.)

LARRY: "Brian idolized Phil Spector, but that was returned by Phil respecting what Brian did. Phil was like an older brother. Brian would occasionally come to Phil's sessions, and Phil would invariably end up putting him to work on either a piano or some percussion instrument. Brian was one of the few people in the music business Phil respected. There was a mutual respect.

"Brian might say that he learned how to produce from watching Phil, but the truth is, he was already producing records before he observed Phil. He just wasn't getting credit for it, something that in the early days, I remember really used to make Phil angry. Phil would tell anybody who listened that Brian was one of the great producers.

"The one full record I worked on with Brian was 'Be True To Your School' it was astounding. Just the idea of it was great. I wish I had done more work with him; Brian was such a lovable guy. Absolutely, a giving person. But Stan Ross did most of Brian's dates at Gold Star. And, of course, Chuck Britz, who later worked for me at A&M, was the main man on Brian's sessions at Western.

“I kind of categorize producers into three broad spectrums. The toughest one to work with, from my standpoint, is the one who doesn't know what he wants and can't communicate it to me or the musicians, so it's futile. Then, there is the producer who doesn't know what he wants, but will sit back and wait for something to happen. Of course, the best producers are people who know what they want and know how to communicate so that all of us can strive towards their goal, while the producer is still amenable to something else that may happen along the way. In my career, I've worked with three great producers--Phil Spector, Herb Alpert and Brian Wilson."

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