Records with Sonobeat in 1975 & 1976
No commercial releases on Sonobeat Records
- Rock Blues-Rock Chicken Shack • unreleased • 1976
Three completed songs, recorded at Sonobeat's Blue Hole Sounds studios in Liberty Hill, Texas, at the beginning of 1976
It's nearing the end of 1975. The Austin Blues-Rockers is a, well, Austin-based rhythm and bluesey, rock cover band, a cross between Motown and Atlantic "girl groups" of the late '60s and more traditional R&B/blues bands. From December 21, 1975, through January 3, 1976, Sonobeat co-founder Bill Josey Sr. produces a wealth of nicely-polished material with the group, then called Blues-Rock Group. The unit initially records House Rocker (a cover of B.B. King's 1955 single, which bears a close resemblence to King's later Boogie Rock), Snatch It Back and Hold It (Junior Wells' R&B song from the '60s), Chicken Shack (originally a Muddy Waters Blues Band instrumental), and It's Hard to Stop (Doing Something When It's Good To You) (a fond tribute to Betty Wright's original 1973 R&B number). The sessions take place at Sonobeat's Blue Hole Sounds studios on the outskirts of tiny Liberty Hill, 35 miles north of Austin, Texas. The band completes It's Hard to Stop and one take of House Rocker (sometimes listed as Rock House on the session tape boxes) with vocal overdubs, but leaves the other tracks (except Chicken Shack, specifically recorded as an instrumental) unfinished.
In March '76, the group, now officially named Austin Blues-Rockers, returns to Blue Hole Sounds to cut two more songs: Soulful Dress (a cover of Filipino-American R&B sensation Sugar Pie DeSanto's 1964 version) and Ain't Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around) (a cover of Aretha Franklin's 1967 hit). These two tracks appear to be intended for release as a Sonobeat stereo single. But 1976 is a financially challenging year for Sonobeat, and if there's no other reason the Austin Blues-Rockers' single is never released on Sonobeat Records, it surely is because Bill's ongoing battle with cancer – diagnosed in 1975 – is diverting most of his financial resources from record releases to chemotherapy treatments.
Bill's notes from the December 21, 1975, session identify the band's personnel as Al Davies, Derick O'Brien, Doke Ford, David (whose last name isn't indicated; drums), and Frieda Borth. Back in 1969, Frieda is a member of Austin group Contraband that also records with Sonobeat. Whenever Bill's notes add up the times of various tracks, it's a clear indication he's looking to assemble enough material for an album; here, in particular, he notes that It's Hard to Stop, Rock House, and a second take of Snatch It Back and Hold It together have a running time of 15 minutes 35 seconds, a little less than half an album. In the '70s, typical album running times are in the 40-50 minute range. Unfortunately, none of the band's material is ever released.
Frieda Borth: vocals
Al Davies: bass
Doke Ford: harp
Derick O'Brien: guitar
David (unknown last name): drums
Ain't Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around) (Carolyn Franklin) • 3:29
Chicken Shack (Muddy Waters) • 4:30
House Rocker (B.B. King) • 3:05
It's Hard to Stop (Doing Something That's Good To You) (Willie Clarke/Clarence Reid/Betty Wright) • 5:31
Snatch It Back and Hold It (Junior Wells) • 5:51
Soulful Dress (Maurice McAlister/Terry Vali) • 2:47
Recorded at Sonobeat's Blue Hole Sounds, Liberty Hill, Texas, from December 1975 to March 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, Scotch 206 and TDK L-1800 tape stock
Producer Bill Josey Sr.'s notes for the December 21, 1975, Austin Blues-Rockers sessions
A potential Sonobeat stereo single or, perhaps, a demo that Sonobeat producer Bill Josey Sr. sends to one of his major label contacts?