In order to keep the momentum going until his next studio project, Robben Ford’s record company recorded three nights of a European tour for a live record. But Ford was unhappy with the results, and instead decided to take the time to write some new songs, and go ahead and record his next studio album. Well, sort of. He also embraced the idea of a live album.
“We just took the live-album concept into a controlled environment, and tried to replicate a show in the recording studio,” says Ford. “We even invited an audience to watch us perform.”
The result is A Day in Nashville [Provogue]—a quite literal title, as the nine tracks on the album were recorded during one session in “Big Boy,” the large room at Nashville’s Sound Kitchen Studio.
“The band had been playing the two covers [‘Cut You Loose’ and ‘Poor Kelly Blues’] and ‘Different People’ live,” explains Ford, “and I sent the guys demos of the new songs and charts for the instrumentals. We did one day of rehearsal before the session. We couldn’t spend more than an hour recording any one song, so we did, at most, three takes on each track.”
One day of rehearsal for nine tracks when you’re heading into a one-day session may seem overly optimistic or just nuts, but a serious injury to Ford prompted a few “Plan B” measures.
“We had a two-week tour planned before recording,” he says, “and, on the second day of the tour, I woke up with a fractured wrist brought on by acute tendinitis. The tendon had pulled away, taking a little piece of bone with it. It was very hard for me.”
Ford’s injury also necessitated some overdubs, so not everything you hear on A Day in Nashville was recorded in one day. Two weeks later, Ford returned to Nashville—this time to House of Blues Studio D (which had originally been built for Sam the Sham in the late 1960s as Sounds of Memphis, and was recently transported board by board from Memphis to Nashville)—to redo guitar parts.
For his last studio outing, the relaxed Bring It Back Home, Ford played only a 1966 Epiphone Riviera, and exclusively on the neck pickup. For A Day In Nashville, the guitarist added his 1968 Les Paul with a humbucker replacing the original bridge mini-humbucker. He used bridge and neck pickups on both instruments to push his Dumble Overdrive Special, and occasionally boosted the signal with a Hermida Zen Drive.
“I was definitely getting down a bit more on this one,” says Ford, “because it was conceived as a live performance, and the energy is different when I play live.”