Bach-Yen 

Austin, Texas

Recorded with Sonobeat in 1968
One commercial 45 RPM release on Sonobeat Records (1968)
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Bach-Yen's single is recorded in January 1968 but will sit for more than six months until Sonobeat sweetens the tracks with a string and horn arrangement
Bach-Yen performs throughout the U.S. for years beyond her original intended two-week visit; this ad is from the November 3, 1972, issue of the Arizona Republic newspaper, Phoenix, Arizona

It's a rainy Thursday afternoon, January 18, 1968, in Austin, Texas. Sonobeat is beginning its recording session with international singing sensation Bach-Yen, who performs This Is My Song (composed by silent film star Charlie Chaplin) and the French-language Magali (the story of a guy wooing a young woman named Magali at the seaside resort of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France). The two-hour recording session at Austin's Club Seville at the Sheraton Crest Inn (now the Raddison) results in the basic instrumentals and vocal tracks for both songs. Although the Club Seville's house band, the Michael Stevens IV, provides able instrumental backing, it seems too thin to Sonobeat producer Bill Josey Sr., who wants a richer production to accompany Bach-Yen's clear and strong voice. It takes until summer to finally settle on and overdub a string and horn arrangement by Richard Green (who also provides the string arrangement on Sonobeat's first single by Lavender Hill Express), performed by members of the Austin Symphony Orchestra. The strings and horns are layered over the original tracks, which already include Bach-Yen's vocals, so Richard must merely embellish and punctuate the tracks. Bach-Yen's Sonobeat single is completed on August 29th and released in October '68.

Born and reared in former French colony Vietnam – thus influencing her choice of Magali, by noted French artiste Robert Nyel, for the "B" side of her Sonobeat single – as a teen Bach-Yen performs in Saigon nightclubs and records several singles for local labels. As fluent in French as Vietnamese, in 1961 she moves to Paris and soon lands a recording contract with European powerhouse Polydor, recording three albums and numerous singles for the label and building a large following throughout Europe.

In 1965, Bach-Yen begins a scheduled two-week visit to New York as a musical emissary for South Vietnam – the center of American controversy during the '60s – and appears on CBS's Ed Sullivan Show, then the most influential variety show on U.S. TV. Her two-week U.S. visit turns into a 12-year tour of 46 states, Canada, Mexico, and South America. Bach is featured with John Wayne and Austin broadcasting icon Cactus Pryor in the 1968 theatrical film The Green Berets. Ironically, Bach-Yen plays a nightclub singer in a Saigon bar. Impressed with Bach during production of the film, Cactus invites her to perform in Austin, then enlists his friend Don Dean, manager of Austin's swanky Club Seville, to provide the venue for Bach. In turn, Don, and who has recorded Sonobeat's third 45 RPM single release the year before, introduces Bach-Yen to Sonobeat co-founder and producer Bill Josey Sr.

Bach-Yen's Sonobeat single adds a bit of international intrigue to the label's rapidly diversifying catalog. Don Dean arranges to sell copies of the single at the Club Seville's coat check stand, helping boost sales considerably.

Bach-Yen returns to Paris in 1977 and then, influenced by her future husband Trân Quang Hai,  returns to her Vietnamese musical roots. Today, Bach-Yen continues to perform traditional Vietnamese songs in concerts throughout the world.

Sonobeat Tags

Bach-Yen personnel

Bach-Yen: vocals
Michael Stevens IV: backing band
   Mark Chaney: bass violin
   Ike Ramirez: trumpet
   Michael Stevens: piano and vibes
   Billy West: drums
Unidentified members of the Austin Symphony Orchestra: string and horn sections; arranged by Richard Green

Sonobeat stereo 45 RPM release PV-s109 (1968)

"A" side: This Is My Song (Charles Chaplin) • 2:54
"B" side: Magali (Robert Nyel) • 2:40

Released week of October 6, 1968* • PV-s109
Produced by Bill Josey Sr.
Engineered by Rim Kelley
Generic sleeve
Basic instrumental tracks and vocal overdubs recorded at The Club Seville at the Sheraton Crest Inn, Austin, Texas, on January 18, 1968
String and horn arrangement by Richard Green overdubbed at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio, Austin, Texas, on August 29,1968
Recording equipment: ElectroVoice 665 microphones, ElectroVoice Slimair 636 microphones, Ampex 350 and 354 quarter-inch 2-track tape decks, custom 10-channel portable mixer, Scotch 202 tape stock
Vinyl collector information for PV-s109

Between 1,000 and 1,500 copies pressed; approximately 50-75 copies rubber stamped "PROMO COPY"
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:
   This Is My Song: PV-S109A and SJW-10895
   Magali: PV-S109B and SJW-10895

Unreleased Sonobeat recordings

There are no unreleased songs by Bach-Yen in the Sonobeat archives

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Final word

Sonobeat records Bach-Yen at the Club Seville, a popular dinner and dance club occupying the top floor of the Sheraton Crest Inn in downtown Austin, Texas. The Club Seville's carpeting, draperies, and acoustic tile ceiling intentionally absorb sound, so Sonobeat's master recordings of Bach-Yen have a distinctive dry sound, lacking any natural room reverberation. At the time Sonobeat records Bach-Yen, Sonobeat has no artificial reverb system, so reverb is added by Sidney J. Wakefield & Company during its mastering of the lacquers used to manufacture the phonograph record pressing plates. Therefore, there are no tape recordings of the reverb-enhanced version of Bach-Yen's single. The sound bites we present above are of the "dry" versions of Bach-Yen's recordings, as sent to Wakefield for mastering, and our 2015 reverb-enhanced re-creations.
Finally, more than six months after the instrumental backing and Bach-Yen's vocal overdubs are recorded, Sonobeat completes her single with a string and horn overdub
Bach-Yen publicity photo (circa 1968)