Linda Tillery - vocals; Paul Fauerso - keyboards, vocals; Pete Shapiro - guitar; Steve Dowler - guitar; Bob Kridle - bass; George Newcom - drums; Todd Anderson - saxophone; Pat O'Hara - trombone
The Loading Zone was one of the first Bay Area bands to incorporate a horn section into the emerging psychedelic sound emanating out of San Francisco. Formed in Oakland in 1967 by keyboard player and vocalist, Paul Fauerso, the Loading Zone opened many a show at the Fillmore, supporting acts like Cream, Big Brother & The Holding Company, the Grateful Dead, and many others. From the Berkeley psychedelic-rock band, the Marbles, Fauerso recruited both guitarists, Pete Shapiro and Steve Dowler. The rhythm section of Bob Kridle and George Newcom held down the bottom end, forming the core group. Though rooted in R&B, the group also veered off into psychedelia, rock, jazz, and electric blues initially. Adding horns to the mix, they paved the way for bands like Tower Of Power. In early 1968, Fauerso placed an ad in the San Francisco Chronicle seeking a new lead vocalist, resulting in Linda Tillery joining the band just prior to them signing with RCA Records. Tillery was the key ingredient; a charismatic singer who became the focal point on stage and her powerful voice provided much of the band's identity.
However, the group's self-titled album failed to capture the onstage excitement, receiving poor reviews and the group was soon dropped from the label. They did soldier on to record another album, but after internal problems and the failure to gain support of radio, the band broke up in 1969. Fauerso and Tillery revived the group with new members in 1970 before breaking it up for good less than a year later. Shortly afterwards, Tillery began pursuing her own path, releasing her solo debut album, Sweet Linda Divine, on CBS in 1970 to enthusiastic reviews and high praise, becoming a prominent musical figure on her own throughout the next several decades.
This performance, recorded on the final night of a three-night stand at the Fillmore Auditorium supporting Arlo Guthrie and John Mayall, captures what the Loading Zone was all about. In early 1968, when Tillery had just joined and the group, they had serious potential and were unquestionably powerful onstage. Although this recording features none of the material soon to be recorded for their debut album, it does contain thoroughly engaging performances of two remarkable covers that were often highlights of their early live performances. The meat of this recording is a highly extended take on "Cold Sweat," an infectious cover of the Pee Wee Ellis song released by James Brown the previous year. One of the precursors of funk, this classic song gets a thorough workout here, with Tillery belting out the vocals and the band providing a relentlessly propulsive backing. The Fillmore Auditorium was geared toward dancing and this performance proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Loading Zone knew how to get those audiences moving. The set concludes with a soulful rendition of "Try A Little Tenderness," a song dating back to the 1930s. Recorded by countless artists over the years, including Frank Sinatra, Percy Sledge, Nina Simone, and Three Dog Night, to name but a few, here Tillery makes it her own. Starting off slow and with plenty of soul, this continues to build into an explosive frenzy that delights the Fillmore audience and brings their set to a memorable close.