Happy 40th: Roy Buchanan, LOADING ZONE
40 years ago this month, Roy Buchanan released the second album of the three-record stint he did with Atlantic Records in the ‘70s.
Produced by Stanley Clarke and engineered variously by Bernie Kirsh, Karl Richardson, Ed Thacker, and Dave Wittman, LOADING ZONE was a change of pace, starting with its producer. In his book Roy Buchanan: American Axe, Phil Carson interviewed Buchanan’s manager, Jay Reich, who discussed how Tom Dowd – who’d helmed the sessions for Buchanan’s Atlantic Records debut, 1976’s A STREET CALLED STRAIGHT – wasn’t available this time around, but Clarke was reportedly champing at the bit to step in and take his place…and since this information was imparted to Reich by no less formidable a figure than Ahmet Ertegun, head of Atlantic Records, it probably wasn’t delivered as an offer that could be readily refused.
“I couldn’t see it,” Reich told Carson. “But Ahmet and Ramon [Silva, another key figure at Atlantic]… I mean, they were from New York, and I thought they were onto something. Their taste seemed to be impeccable. Who I was to say that it wasn’t going to work? They said, ‘This is going to put Roy over the top.’ So we did stuff with Stanley in Miami, in L.A., New York. The album must have cost a fortune. Roy’s road band, which was on part of the first Atlantic album, got completely ignored. We had these session guys, some really good ones like Jan Hammer, Will Lee, who was a helluva nice guy and a good player. The Brecker Brothers… But for me, I couldn’t sink my teeth into this music.”
All told, LOADING ZONE may have sounded great, but it definitely didn’t do as Ahmet and Ramon had assured Reich that it would. It did, however, give us some smoking tracks here and there, most notably a kick-ass cover of “Green Onions” that might even give Booker T and the M.G.’s a run for their money.