STEVE LEVINE: PRODUCER & SONGWRITER
Radio Broadcasting and Production team combining 25 years of creating high-value programming content and concepts.
A series of special programmes exploring the work of legendary record producers. Richard Allinson and record producer Steve Levine profile these maverick craftsmen who reveal their studio secrets behind the creation of their classic recordings.
Please hover over individual episode titles on the right hand side index to find out more about each programme
Clive Langer & Alan Winstanley
The music of Alan Winstanley and Clive Langer will be more familiar to The record buying public than their names. A versatile and innovative production duo. They are the men responsible for an amazing array of hits, from House Of Fun by Madness to Absolute Beginners by David Bowie, Morrissey’s November Spawned a Monster to Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ Come On Eileen. Elvis Costello, The Style Council, Robert Wyatt, They Might Be Giants, The Teardrop Explodes, Blur, Aztec Camera, Lloyd Cole and one of the UK’s biggest rock exports to America, Bush, have all benefited from their joint production techniques. Individually they’ve worked on recordings for The Specials, XTC, The Stranglers, Lene Lovich and others.
Like many of his generation, London-born Winstanley was inspired by the Beatles to pick up a guitar and as a teenager he played in a number of bands. But he soon realised that he wasn’t going to be the world’s greatest player and looked for a different path within music. He was taken by the sound of not only Beatles records, but also those of Motown and Phil Spector and realised that a great single was as much to do with the way it was recorded as it was the song itself. So he decided he would probably find success through working behind the scenes. His first job was in a small 4 track demo studio in 1970 - he stayed there for eight years, during which time this studio had grown to 24 tracks and attracted punk bands such as The Buzzcocks and Generation X. He worked as an engineer on many of these sessions and provided a solid foundation for his production partnership to follow.
Clive Langer was in a band called Deaf School that came in to use the studio, just as Winstanley was considering the transition from engineer to producer. Langer came from a different musical territory - he was proficient in flamenco guitar, had come up through the art house student rock route of listening to Dylan, Soft Machine, Crosby Stills and Nash and found himself a member of Brian Eno’s extraordinarily bad and surreal Portsmouth Sinfonia.
Remarkably their styles complimented each other perfectly and in the late 70s they began a partnership which spawned countless hit singles and albums.
Their production and arranging techniques have influenced other producers. For instance, Langer recalls the process of writing and recording the pizzicato strings for the Madness version of It Must be Love, only to be told at a later date by Trevor Horn that these same strings were an influence on The Lexicon Of Love. Winstanley comments on hearing Come On Eileen for the first time as a demo with lyrics about James Brown, Van Morrison and Kevin Rowland and wondering about its potential as a hit record..
Langer also recalls co-writing and producing Shipbuilding, not only for Elvis Costello, but also for Robert Wyatt - how a seminal song can have two completely different approaches and in the process working with jazz legend Chet Baker on one of his final recordings.
Richard Allinson and Steve Levine present this edition of the ‘Record Producers’, which includes comments and insight from amongst others Robert Wyatt, Suggs from Madness, arranger David Bedford and Langer & Winstanely
The Producers Playlist also on BBC 6Music
An extended 90 minute version of the Record Producers.
‘The Record Producers’ looks at the work of one of the wittiest and admired pop bands of the 1970s - 10cc. Lol Creme, Kevin Godley, Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart provided the entire package; not only were they great musicians, but also wrote all their hits in various group combinations, produced their own recordings and in Eric Stewart, had a built-in engineer. They also owned their own recording studio, making them a highly productive self contained unit.
Includes new interviews with all four band members and has exclusive access to the original multitrack recordings of Donna, Wall Street Shuffle and I’m Not In Love.
This edition focuses on the work of a man who has achieved the rare feat of having Top 10 singles with three different groups and as a solo artist, yet remains somewhat under-valued in his contribution to British pop music.
Following a Denny Cordell-produced debut album by The Move, Roy took over the controls for the rest of the group's career, then went on to form Electric Light Orchestra with Jeff Lynne and produce a stunning debut hit '10538 Overture' before leaving to write and produce a string of hits with his new band Wizzard. At the same time, he was writing and recording as a solo artist, giving him a further four hit singles and an acclaimed debut album 'Boulders'.
This programme concentrates on his work during this period, but also features some of his production work for others, such as the 'Annie In Wonderland' album by Renaissance singer Annie Haslam.
Featuring interviews with Roy, Jeff Lynne, Alan Parsons, Annie Haslam and others, along with an in-depth look at the original multi-track recordings of '10538 Overture' by ELO, Wizzard's number one 'Angel Fingers' and Roy's Top 10 solo hit 'Forever'
In this programme, an exclusive interview with Trevor Horn, whose credits include ABC, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Pet Shop Boys and Yes and features contributions from Neil Tennant, Richard Nile, Stephen Lipson and Jon Anderson of Yes.
The Record Producers “The Producers Cut” featured on BBC 6Music
A half hour show which follows the extended “Producers Cut” featuring less well known tracks by the artist/producer.
Hugh Padgham, a man who successfully made the transition from engineer to producer, Padgham helped create an iconic and trademark drum sound for stars including Genesis, The Police, XTC, Sting, Human League, David Bowie and Phil Collins.
With the help of original demos from XTC, a very early and rarely heard recording of Sting's Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic and exclusive access to original multi-tracks, Allinson and Levine unravel the journey of songs Padgham helped to create, from inception to completion, and talk with him about the evolution, both intentional and accidental, of the iconic and influential sounds they feature.
Tony Swain & Steve Jolley
A profile of one of the UK's most successful and dominant duos of the 1980s (Steve Jolley and Tony Swain) who guided the careers of a number of that decade’s most successful British pop acts.
The pair originally met in 1975 whilst working on television shows for ATV. But, on leaving to pursue a career in songwriting and recording, they teamed up as in-house producers for Red Bus Studios in the late 70s. This grounding gave them both the confidence and training to launch themselves as a major production duo in 1981 and their first hit for Imagination, ‘Body Talk’, which they not only produced, but also co-wrote and acted as session players. Whilst working on a string of hits for the UK’s premiere soul trio of the early 80s they also helped establish the group that would become Britain’s biggest girl group of the decade. Swain and Jolley steered Bananarama to repeated chart success by co-writing and producing songs such as Shy Boy, Robert De Niro’s Waiting and Cruel Summer.
Their production style guided the careers of exisiting chart artists in new directions. Spandau Ballet had six Top 40 singles and two hit albums under their belt when they brought in Swain & Jolley for their third and most successful album - True. The title track was not only the band’s only number one, but the defining sound the producers achieved on the song’s introduction has been sampled time and time again - most famously by PM Dawn on Set Adrift On Memory Bliss and Nelly’s N Dey Say.
This massive hit was soon followed by the launch of the solo career of one of Britain’s best loved female vocalists of the last 25 years. Fresh from Yazoo, Alison Moyet went into the studio to co-write songs with the production duo and emerged with a number one album. 'Alf' spent over one and a half years on the chart and included hits such as Love Resurrection, All Cried Out and Invisible.
Holland, Dozier & Holland
In celebration of BBC Radio 2’s sixties season, the subject of this documentary is the legendary team of Holland/Dozier/Holland.
Whilst concentrating on their golden period at Berry Gordy’s Motown label, the programme will also highlight their pioneering use of multi-track recording techniques several years before it was fully recognized on material by The Beatles and The Beach Boys. It will also focus on the establishment of their own record labels – Invictus & Hot Wax.
For the first time on UK radio and with the full co-operation of Lamont Dozier, listeners will be able to hear original session multitracks of classic songs from his personal archive, including You Can’t Hurry Love, How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You, This Old Heart Of Mine and The Same Old Song. Richard and Steve will play a previously unheard ‘jazz’ version of Baby Love as well as unearth an alternative Levi Stubbs vocal for Reach Out I’ll Be There – demonstrating how different a song can sound when a melody we know and love so well is given a different interpretation.
The programme includes new interviews with not only all three members of the production team, but also Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir (Four Tops), General Johnson (Chairmen Of The Board), Bob Babbitt (bass player, Funk Brothers), Louvain Demps (from Motown sessions singers The Andantes) and other recording luminaries.
This edition will also mark a first for the ‘Record Producers’ series, with a specially extended ‘Producer’s Cut’ aired on 6Music. The extended 90-minute version will delve deeper into the original session tapes and include extra music and commentary on the production team’s post-Motown work with their own Invictus/Hot Wax labels.
Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff
Following on from the Holland/Dozier/Holland documentary that formed part of Radio 2’s 60s season, ‘The Record Producers’ moves into the 70s for the next programme in this series and profiles the work of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff - the godfathers of Philly Soul.
This is a natural progression from the previous edition as not only had Gamble provided a hit for Diana Ross and The Supremes and The Temptations with “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”, but Kenny & Leon were also approached by Holland/Dozier/Holland following their departure from Motown with the view to forming a mega-production team.
The Gamble and Huff partnership has provided hits for The O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, The Jacksons, The Three Degrees, Lou Rawls, The Intruders, Archie Bell & The Drells, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, MFSB (their house band) and Billy Paul. Less familiar, though equally interesting, is their work with Lesley Gore, Laura Nyro, Dusty Springfield and Johnny Mathis.
This hour-long documentary,will focus on some of their most successful songs including ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’, ‘Back Stabbers’, ‘You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine’ and ‘When Will I See You Again’
Both Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff speak at length about their career throughout the programme, which also contains a rare and exclusive new interview with their orchestral arranger and fellow producer Thom Bell
This edition looks at the work of one of the most influential musicians in pop history. The programme features an exclusive interview with Brian and, as is expected of each edition in the series, 'The Record Producers' once again has access to rare material. On this occasion it includes original session highlights from 'Wouldn't It Be Nice' and 'Good Vibrations' along with musical director and friend Jeff Foskett demonstrating Brian’s harmonic arrangements with a specially recorded acapella version of 'Warmth Of The Sun'.
Fellow producers Don Was, Tony Visconti and Sir George Martin all comment on Brian’s music and recording techniques.
Other interviewees include David L Marks, “The lost Beach Boy” who was a permanent member of the group for the first four albums. Gerry Beckley from the group America and Graham Nash of CSN & Y talk about the art of vocal arranging and the acclaimed session bassist Carol Kaye of The Wrecking Crew provides a first hand account of Brian in the studio whilst playing examples of classic bass lines from Beach Boys recordings. This is topped off by recollections on Brian's songs and work from fellow band member Bruce Johnston.
The Radio 2 version of the programme will be followed by a specially extended 'Producers Cut' on BBC 6 Music, where Richard and Steve will include the recording of 'God Only Knows' and 'Caroline No' amongst its bonus material.
Mick Jones (The Clash)
The programme includes an exclusive interview with Mick Jones along with expert opinion from Steve. Other contributors include Don Letts of Big Audio Dynamite, Tony James (formerly of Generation X, Sigue Sigue Sputnik and current bandmate in Carbon/Silocon), Hard-Fi’s Richard Archer (whose first band Contempo was Mick’s first full production), Topper Headon of The Clash, Bill Price (whose work with Mott The Hoople inspired Mick Jones and who went on to mix and engineer most of the Clash records) and Simon Humphrey (an engineer with CBS who recorded ‘The Clash’ album). As is usual with the ‘Record Producers’ series, the programme will include previously unheard material from Mick Jones’ archive.
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
A prolific team not only as producers but also as writers. From their beginnings at high school and work with Prince in Minneapolis through to their Grammy award winning work with Chaka Khan earlier this year, Jam & Lewis talk at length about their careers.
Alongside an exclusive interview with the pair, there are a number of other contributors to the programme; including Alexander O’Neal, who talks about their techniques in recording the solo voice, Sounds of Blackness director Gary Hines discusses the gospel group’s involvement with the production duo, Gerry Beckley from the group America talks about his association with both the production team and Janet Jackson through her hits ‘Let’s Wait A While’ and ‘Someone To Call My Lover’, and Lisa Keith, who has been Jimmy and Terry’s backing singer of choice on recordings with S.O.S. Band, Human League and Herb Alpert brings an insiders view on their working relationship.
The programme includes specially recorded and previously unheard material made available to Richard and Steve to illustrate the career of this era-defining production team.
Tony Visconti - a man who doesn't fit neatly into any one particular category of producer. He is also engineer, orchestral arranger and mixer.
With nearly 40 years of work to draw on, the programme focuses on his work with David Bowie, Marc Bolan and Sparks, but also illustrates his work with The Move, Paul McCartney, Thin Lizzy and Morrissey.
From an extensive interview recorded exclusively for the programme, Tony talks about recording with these artists, studio tricks used on key tracks, the inspiration for particular arrangements and anecdotes from his illustrious career.
15th March 1932 - 25th June 2006
This edition features one of the very last interviews with legendary producer Arif Mardin who sadly died in June 2006. The interview was recorded in Autumn 2005 in New York and at the time Arif was in good spirits having recovered from a recent operation. This is a very moving and revealing interview and Arif is joined by son Joe and features interviews with Chakka Khan and others who have had the pleasure of working with Arif.
The producer, sound engineer and mixer Bob Clearmountain was the subject a recent programme of ‘The Record Producers’, and for this edition we turn to the man with whom Bob learnt his craft.
Bob was engineer on all the key Chic sessions and he contributes to this programme that looks not only at the creation of the Chic sound, but the influence musician, writer and producer Nile Rodgers has had on popular music.
Each edition in the series has taken a different approach not only to record production, but also in the programme style for each subject, and this latest episode is no exception. Whilst Nile discusses his production work for David Bowie, Carly Simon, Diana Ross, Madonna and others, Richard Allinson and Steve Levine dissect two quintessential Chic songs through the exclusive access Nile has granted to the original multitrack recordings.
With ‘Le Freak’, they concentrate on how to produce the perfect pop/dance hit, whilst demonstrating with ‘Good Times’ how relatively straightforward musical parts are layered to create one of the mostinfluential and enduring dance records ever made.
Through state of the art digital technology, we hear how cleverly the Chic sound was constructed, from the unique style of the guitar playing through to the simple yet effective way they recorded handclaps, and from what appears to be straightforward chords from the string section to the sophisticated
counterplay of the rhythm section.
This edition focuses on the work of a critically acclaimed producer - the legendary engineer and mixer Bob Clearmountain.
So far in the series, Richard and Steve have looked at the producer as a technical craftsman, a vocal stylist and an orchestral arranger. For this latest programme, they concentrate on a unique role in the creation of a finished recording – the mixer.
Bob Clearmountain’s production credits include Simple Minds, Deacon Blue, The Pretenders and Paul McCartney. But he is better known for his unrivalled mixing talents with an artist roster that features Rolling Stones, Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, Roxy Music, Crowded House, Sheryl Crow, Robbie Williams, The Clash, The Corrs, Peter Gabriel, INXS, David Bowie, Tears For Fears at the tip of a very large musical iceberg.
With contributions from Bruce Springsteen, Neil Finn, Bryan Adams, Patti Scialfa, the Bare Naked Ladies, Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera and Bob himself, Richard and Steve will unravel some of the skills and tricks employed by the mixer to create the perfect sound on record.
Stock Atkin & Waterman
A profile of one of the most successful British production & songwriting teams of the late 80s and early 90s - Stock Aitken & Waterman. Modelled on Motown's Hit Factory of the 1960s,they produced a seemingly endless stream of hits for Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley, Sonia and Mel & Kim as well as bringing continued chart success to Bananarama and re-igniting the career of Donna Summer amongst others.
For many, their commercial success has overshadowed any critical appraisal of their craft, but this edition in the series of documentary specials adjusts that balance. Richard Allinson and Steve Levine assess the musicianship, prolific songwriting and major changes to the recording and mixing technology that lay at the heart of the production team, exploring Mike Stock and Matt Aitken's backgrounds in various bands as well as Pete Waterman's pre-S.A.W.success in the record industry, which included work with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff in Philadelphia, early entrepreneurial skills with Lee 'Scratch' Perry and production sessions with his songwriting hero Lamont Dozier - all of which contributed to the formation of PWL, modelled on the self-sufficient label attitude of Philadelphia International.
With brand new interviews from not only all three members of the team but also Jason Donovan, Rick Astley and Kim Appleby, Richard and Steve assert Stock Atiken and Waterman's position as major contributors to the sound of British pure-pop.
Series 3 onwards
© Copyright 2006 Magnum Opus Broadcasting