This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

> > > Heavy Load: The Queen Mother's Dead

Lloyd Page reviews an album from a great punk band based in Lewes, East Sussex

A duotone photograph in red and green of five white men leaning on a railing

Photo of by Kim Williams

Made up of musicians with and without learning disabilities, Heavy Load are gaining a reputation for their energetic stage performances and sheer volume. Their debut album The Queen Mother's Dead is great and filled with much potential. The band is influenced by the late '70s punk scene, and share the same no-nonsense attitude that was displayed by The Sex Pistols and The Damned. These guys know how to make a noise. Oh yes indeed they do!

The album contains some great songs, such as the punk anthem, (Come Get It Now) Frank Butcher. This song is about the character played by Mike Reid in EastEnders. The song not only oozes that great punk sound but also reminds the listener of Frank Butcher's character. There's some great observation on show here, including a riff similar to what you'd expect from the likes of Motley Crue or The Ramones.

While this album carries with it some great original songs about family and friends and the way they affect your life, it also contains some cover versions that seem to have been chosen at random, including such oddities as Can't Get You Out of My Head, a very intriguing yet versatile conversion of Kylie Minogue's worldwide smash hit. This track does involve much organised chaos! When the band are singing (?) the most recognisable part of this song, it becomes very chaotic as the band members randomly shout out their personal contributions. I don't want you to think this makes the track bad; on the contrary, it adds a sense of reality to the song.

The band's cover version of The Clash classic (okay! okay! I know The Clash didn't write it but merely covered it themselves) I Fought the Law, is truly the stuff of legend, full of attitude and sounding like it comes straight from the gutter level of the street. It is truly a great version of a great song. They also cover Wild Thing, a song that could be classified as the first true punk song. They take it, shake it, and make it punk whether it wants to be or not!

My favourite track by far on this album is Psycho, which has the feel of a great punk band giving it everything live in concert. I'm sure the crowd are jumping up and down in unison when this is played live. The song explains what the word means to them. Like the best punk bands, what they see around them and how it makes them feel is of utmost importance.

This truly memorable album makes you understand that more than just musical skill is required to make a great punk album. You need frustration and anger. You need eyes to see what is really happening in the world around you. You also need courage to be able to pass your personal comments, whilst not caring what anybody else might think.

Go out and buy the album. Introduce yourself to Heavy Load. Let them welcome you to their world! The Queen Mother's Dead! You already knew that. Didn't you?

Stay Up Late campaign

Heavy Load noticed that their audience were having to leave their gigs before they wanted to go home, in order to fit in with their carers' shifts. In response they set up the Stay Up Late campaign to "make staying in history". 
Heavy Load's track, Stay Up Late, available here on MySpace, has been released for the campaign, which is supported by Mencap.