Fateh Ali Khan
It was a sunday morning in April 1991, myself and producer Bally Sagoo were looking forward to the imminent arrival of an actual living legend…the world renowned qawali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
It was a big deal, Bally and his label Oriental Star were hoping to get enough vocals for an album, but he was only available for a few hours before flying back to Pakistan.
Right on time Nusrat arrived with his brother and manager, and label boss Mr Ayuub and brother Farook. After a few introductions and some Indian tea it was straight to work. Nusrat had several songs prepared for the session. As he ran through the first song in the controlroom, myself and Bally would work out the bpm and quickly get a guide drum beat and a dolki loop playing on the computer. Then Nusrat would go into the live room for the actual recording. He was pleased to see an AKG C414 mic as he’d used one many times before. After a brief level and headphone check we were ready to go. Nusrat was in his normal sitting position wearing headphones and with the mic set back a little to allow for the power of his voice and his hand movements.
Take one … playback … job done!
That was the pattern for all six songs, one take each time. Many singers will tell you they did this song and that song in one take, but infact this is very rare. Actually we did do a second take on one song, but that was at Nusrat’s own request (it sounded perfect to us).
Half way through the session there was a lunch break, during which Nusrat received several prominent Pakistani guests, most notably the top class cricketer Imran Khan (who later became prime minister of Pakistan).
All in all, an excellent day’s work!