al D alec

Central Texas

Records with Sonobeat in 1976
No commercial releases on Sonobeat Records
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It's spring 1976. After more than eight years in business, Sonobeat's master tape library is filled with reels in which unrelated one-off recordings, outtakes, and trial mixes are strung together for archival purposes, often in haphazard ways. Sometimes these are just scraps, but sometimes these hold forgotten but hidden gems. While cataloging the Sonobeat master tape library in 2008, we discover one such reel in a 7-1/2" tape box. The box previously contains White Light and Michele Murphy material, but both names are scratched out, and Al & Alec is scribbled in below. The handwriting is distinctly Sonobeat co-founder Bill Josey Sr.'s, and the note "Take 2 (near end of tape)" seems to indicate there's more of Al & Alec in the Sonobeat archives.

As we dig deeper into the archives, we find three more tapes containing recordings by Al & Alec, although two are marked only as "Al". All are in previously used tape boxes, with other artists' names scratched out similarly to the first Al & Alex box we find.

The Michele Murphy material previously stored in the Al & Alec tape boxes is dated April 17, 1976, so we believe Bill records Al & Alec material soon thereafter, most likely during the period May through June '76, at Bill's Blue Hole Sounds studios on the outskirts of Liberty Hill, Texas, 30 miles north of Austin. And, by process of elimination as we review the master tape library still again, we conclude that the Al & Alec sessions are the last that Bill records before he's too ill to continue operating the Sonobeat studios. Bill succumbs to cancer in September '76.

Because of the markings on one tape box, we originally think Rebecca Lynn is another artist Bill has recorded and stored on the same tape with Al & Alec. But when we listen to the tape, we realize Rebecca Lynn is a song, not another artist. The tape contains multiple takes of Rebecca Lynn and a song called The Fox. On another tape, we find multiple takes of Santa Fe (or White Walls of Santa Fe), Flying Circle, Wordless Wonder, and Your Touch. These Al & Alec recordings are good indications that Bill is steering Sonobeat, whose roots mostly have been rock 'n' roll and jazz recordings, toward the Austin progressive sounds – both progressive rock and progressive country – that begin emerging as the decade clicks over from the '60s to the '70s. Indeed, Austin's progressive country music scene is approaching its zenith in '76, when the Al & Alec recordings are made, and Liberty Hill is the site of outlaw country superstar Willie Nelson's famous Fourth of July Picnic concert in 1973. While we can't be sure, we feel that Al & Alec are from the Central Texas area, if not from Austin itself, where most of the artists recording at Blue Hole Sounds are based. Or perhaps Bill has seen Al & Alec perform in the local night clubs and dance halls elsewhere around Central Texas.

We know nothing more about the Al & Alec recordings or the sessions that yielded them. We don't know Al and Alec's last names, the names of the members of the backing band, and whether these were Al & Alec's original compositions.

Al & Alec personnel

Al (last name unknown)
Alec (last name unknown)
Backing band: unknown

Unreleased Sonobeat recordings

Flying Circle
The Fox
Rebecca Lynn
White Walls of Santa Fe
Wordless Wonder

Produced and engineered by Bill Josey Sr.
Recorded at Sonobeat's Blue Hole Sounds, Liberty Hill, Texas, in May or June 1976
Recording equipment: ElectroVoice 665 microphones, ElectroVoice Slimair 636 microphones, Sony ECM22 electret condenser microphones, Dokorder 7140 quarter inch 4-track tape deck, custom 16-channel 4-bus mixing console, Fairchild Lumiten 663ST optical compressor, Blonder-Tongue Audio Baton 9-band stereo graphic equalizer, custom steel plate stereo reverb, Ampex 681 tape stock

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One of several unreleased recordings by Al & Alec in the Sonobeat archives
Multiple takes of Santa Fe (or White Walls of Santa Fe)