Plea for Freedom
Round Rock, Texas
Records with Sonobeat in 1974 & 1975
One commercial release on Sonobeat Records (1975)
Photo of Arma taken at Sonobeat's Blue Hole Sounds studio in Liberty Hill, Texas, August 1974; Arma is 29 at the time of the photo
The "sound design" document Sonobeat producer Bill Josey Sr and folk artist Arma Harper work out for a proposed album featuring Arma singing his original compositions
Folk singer/songwriter Arma Harper records at Sonobeat's Blue Hole Sounds studio, just outside Liberty Hill, Texas, during 1974 and 1975. He performs his compositions Just One Too Many Times and Plea For Freedom for Sonobeat stereo 45 RPM single PF-121, produced by Sonobeat co-founder Bill Josey Sr. Arma is an accomplished guitarist and clever wordsmith. Both songs are well crafted and solidly performed if not a little melancholy. An unidentified flutist accompanies Arma on Plea for Freedom. Although recorded in '74, the single isn't released until '75 to provide time for Bill and Arma to record enough material for a coordinated album release. Finally, in early March '75, Bill orders a test pressing of the single, but he and Arma disagree as to which song should be the "A" side. Bill prevails with his choice of Just One Too Many Times, which he believes will be more successful and attract radio airplay because of its more commercial melody and lyrics. At the same time, Arma begins to question a sound design that he and Bill have spent weeks plotting out for Arma's proposed album; Arma has already recorded the basic tracks for eleven of the proposed 14 songs. Bill envisions the album as using the talents of a dozen or more additional musicians overdubbing their instruments to build out a commercial product, but after Arma's change of heart, Bill abandons the album in frustration.
The Sonobeat archives are imprecise regarding the date Arma's single is released, but Bill's notes indicate that on March 27, 1975, he gives Nashville Records the "OK" to press a short run of 200 copies, which makes a late April release of the single likely. This is Arma's only release on the Sonobeat label, Sonobeat's only commercial release in 1975, and Sonobeat's only folk release, although Sonobeat has recorded unreleased material by other folk artists, including Allen Damron and Cody Hubach. Arma's is one of two Sonobeat releases in which the artist is listed on the label only by first name; the other is Jeannine (Jeannine Hoke), whose 1976 45 RPM stereo single is Sonobeat's final release.
Although hailing from Itta Bena, Mississippi, about 450 miles east of Dallas, Texas, by the time Arma records with Sonobeat, he's moved to Round Rock, Texas, just a few miles north of Austin on Interstate 35, where he still lives. In 2011, Arma performs his original composition The Liberty Hill Song for a video chronicling Liberty Hill's history, in which he's accompanied on vocals by Michele "Mike" Murphy, who at the time the video is made is serving as Liberty Hill's mayor.
Arma Harper: Martin acoustic guitar and vocals
Unidentified musician: flute (on Plea For Freedom)
"A" side: Just One Too Many Times (Arma Harper) • 2:21
"B" side: Plea For Freedom (Arma Harper) • 2:05
Produced and engineered by Bill Josey Sr.
Recorded at Sonobeat's Blue Hole Sounds, Liberty Hill, Texas, in 1974 (but unreleased until 1975)
Recording equipment: ElectroVoice 665 microphones, ElectroVoice Slimair 636 microphones, Sony ECM22 electret condenser microphones, Dokorder 7140 quarter-inch 4-track tape deck, Ampex AG350 quarter-inch 2-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 406 tape stock
Approximately 200 copies pressed
Lacquers mastered and vinyl copies pressed by Nashville Records, Nashville, Tennessee
Label blanks printed by Powell Offset Services, Austin, Texas
In the dead wax:
Just One Too Many Times: NR5676-1, JUST ONE TOO MANY TIMES, and JE
Plea For Freedom: NR5676-2, PLEA FOR FREEDOM, and JE
"NR" in the matrix number identifies Nashville Records as the pressing plant. "JE" are the initials of Nashville Records' lacquer mastering engineer John Eberle.
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Why She Left Me Only God Knows