Fran Nelson

Austin, Texas

Recorded with Sonobeat in 1967 & 1968
One commercial 45 RPM release on Sonobeat Records (1968)
  1. Sonobeat 50th Anniversary Artist Pop
    Fran Nelson • No Regrets (1968) 
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About a year earlier than she records her Sonobeat single, Fran makes some test recordings for producer Bill Josey Sr. at KAZZ-FM's studios in downtown Austin

It's a relatively mild Austin, Texas, October in 1968, and singer/songwriter Fran Nelson – who seems to specialize in torch songs – records Sonobeat's 15th stereo 45 RPM single, the last of Sonobeat's releases in the year. Fran's "A" side is a gentle bossa nova cover of the Beatles' 1965 hit Yesterday. The "B" side is Fran's original song, No Regrets, delivered in a smoky jazz club style enhanced by Sonobeat's stereo steel plate reverb. You can almost feel Fran's hot breath in your ear and might even need a gin and tonic to make it all the way through her torrid performance.

Fran records several sessions with Sonobeat, including a 1967 test session at the KAZZ-FM studios in downtown Austin, that include Beg Me Blues (which may be Fran's original composition), Sad Stranger Blues, Tomorrow When I Wake Up, several takes of her sultry cover of Stevie Wonder's Come Back Baby, and a simple version of No Regrets accompanied just by guitar. When Sonobeat starts work on Fran's single in September 1968, the Lee Arellano Trio (better known as Sonobeat's first jazz act under the name Lee Arlano Trio) provides the instrumental backing, but it's eventually scrapped. The final release versions of No Regrets and Yesterday are backed by Sonobeat favorite The Michael Stevens IV, a versatile pop-jazz combo that regularly performs as house band at the Club Seville in the Sheraton Crest Inn (now the Radisson Hotel). The Michael Stevens IV frequently performs with vocalists at the Club Seville, whereas the Arellano (or Arlano) Trio is a jazz instrumental combo with no experience backing vocalists. The Michael Stevens IV also provides the instrumental backings on Sonobeat's Don Dean and Bach-Yen singles.

Fran's basic instrumental tracks for Yesterday and No Regrets are recorded at the Club Seville, and her vocals are overdubbed at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio in northwest Austin. The Sonobeat archives hold no additional information about Fran, but it seems likely that Sonobeat producer Bill Josey Sr. is introduced to Fran through Don Dean, manager of the Club Seville, where Fran occasionally performs. We also have a vague recollection that at the time of her recordings, Fran is a University of Texas student and quite likely a drama major, since The University of Texas student newspaper, The Daily Texan, notes her performances in several UT Drama Department plays during 1968 and 1969. We don't think Fran is related to either country music icon Willie Nelson or prolific Sonosong composer Herman Nelson.

Fran Nelson personnel

Fran Nelson: standard guitar and vocals
Backing band: Michael Stevens IV
   Mark Chaney: bass violin
   Ike Ramirez: trumpet
   Michael Stevens: piano and vibes
   Billy West: drums

Sonobeat stereo 45 RPM release PV-s113 (1968)

"A" side: Yesterday (Lennon-McCartney) • 2:40
"B" side: No Regrets (Fran Nelson) • 3:43

Released week of November 24, 1968* • PV-s113
Produced by Bill Josey Sr.
Engineered by Rim Kelley
Generic sleeve
Instrumental tracks recorded at Club Seville at the Sheraton Crest Inn in Austin, Texas, in October 1968
Vocal overdubs recorded at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio, Austin, Texas, in October 1968
Recording equipment: ElectroVoice 665 microphones, ElectroVoice Slimair 636 microphones, Ampex AG350 and 354 tape decks, custom 10-channel portable stereo mixer, custom steel plate stereo reverb, Scotch 201 and Ampex 681 tape stock
Vinyl collector information for PV-s113

Approximately 1,000 copies pressed; 50-75 copies marked "PROMO" and "NOT FOR SALE"
Lacquers mastered and vinyl copies pressed by Sidney J. Wakefield & Company, Phoenix, Arizona
Generic sleeve
Label blanks printed by Powell Offset Services, Austin, Texas
In the dead wax:
   Yesterday: SJW 10907 and PV-s113 A
   No Regrets: SJW 10907 and PV-S113 B
   "SJW" in the matrix number identifies Sidney J. Wakefield & Company as the lacquer mastering and pressing plant

Unreleased Sonobeat recordings

Beg Me Blues
Come Back Baby
Sad Stranger Blues
Tomorrow When I Wake Up
Unidentified song

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Fran Nelson's Sonobeat 45 RPM stereo single, released in November 1968
The master tape for Fran's Sonobeat single; what's not shown here is that the first set of instrumental backings for her single are recorded by the Lee Arellano Trio (also known as the Lee Arlano Trio) but are scrapped because the Trio, an instrumental act, isn't experienced in arranging songs for vocal accompaniment. Fran's final instrumental backing is provided by The Michael Stevens IV.