Sunday, March 19, 2017

Late Afternoon

Usually when I'm writing and talking about my music, it's all about Twice Upon a Rhyme, the album I produced with Ed Fox in 1972, with most songs written by us (and a few others by just me, by me and Peter Rosenthal, Linda Kaplan, and others), and performed by Ed, me, Peter, Donny Frankel, Boris Midney, and lots of other musicians.

Interestingly, we never performed any of Twice Upon a Rhyme live.  In fact, the first live performance of a few songs from the album with some others was by Pete and me in Ronkonkoma, NY in August 2015 - here's the video (not the greatest sound quality, but you'll get the gist).

But before I started writing with Ed, before Twice Upon a Rhyme, I was in very different kind of group, a folk-rock group, The New Outlook.   That group consisted Stu Nitekman (usually lead vocal and strumming guitar), Ira Margolis (baritone harmony), and me (first tenor and falsetto harmony, occasionally lead, occasionally an organ I bought in Woolworth's on our home demos).

We did perform in person - almost daily, in the Alcove right outside the cafeteria on the North Campus of the City College of New York (CCNY), where we regularly sang instead of attending classes.  And when we weren't on the North Campus, we sang in a similar Alcove in Finley Hall on the South Campus, again rather than attending classes.   But we also on occasion performed at clubs in the New York area, recorded a few studio demos (recording costs paid for by this publisher or record producer or that), and lots of home demos (which is where my cheap organ came in).  I assembled 12 of those recordings, and added three of my own more recent songs, on a digital album, Spun Dreams, in 2010, available now on Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, and all the usual places.

But back to the 1960s - one sunny afternoon in 1967, The New Outlook (Stu, Ira, and I) were belting out our three-part harmonies in Central Park, when a couple walked by, stopped, and listened to at least six of our songs.  They turned out to be Ellie Greenwich (co-writer of "Da Doo Ron Ron" and tons of other songs) and Mike Rashkow (co-writer of "Mary in the Morning", recorded by Elvis), and they signed us to their production company and in turn to Atlantic Records, which released two singles by the New Outlook - renamed The Other Voices - which went nowhere.  (I co-wrote the B-side of one release, "Hung Up on Love," with Mike's wife at the time Mikie Harris).  The New Outlook shortly after left Atlantic, resumed our original name, and recorded one of our new songs, "Evening's Evergreen Morning," without Ellie and Mike.  But when it didn't get much response, either, we disbanded.  The studio demo of "Evening's Evergreen Morning" - which, by the way, features Pete Rosenthal on guitar, in his first work on what would be many of my songs - is included in Spun Dreams.

Which gets me, at last, to the title of this post.  "Late Afternoon" was not included on Spun Dreams. It was one of our favorite songs - I wrote the words, and Stu the music - and we performed it with full New Outlook harmony.  But all I had was a track with Stu singing a strong lead and strumming guitar. I had hoped to someday find a full New Outlook version - but I decided, the other day, to just add some of the harmony myself, and get this song out to the world.   It will soon be available on Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes.  But here's the song for you now (with lyrics below).   Enjoy!

Late Afternoon

Words by Paul Levinson, Music by Stu Nitekman, 1966

The shades of dusk hang over us
Our day has nearly passed
And now the Earth seems sadly hushed
As shadows wash the grass

Look at our love in the late afternoon
Any moment the darkness might come
Open your eyes, it's the late afternoon
Don't let our dreams set with the sun

The early warmth has cooled with time
We'll soon feel evening's frost
And in the night we'll never find
the treasure that we lost


You smile while twilight skies grow dim
But once the flame has died
You'll long for all that might have been
If only we had tried



And hey - if you'd like more of The New Outlook, here's another recently uncovered recording of all three of us singing that upbeat, peppy classic - On the Sunny Side of the Street
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