The Load - Praise The Load

EricEric USA
edited August 1 in year-1976

A big three to four digit collectible until the early 90's CD reissue on The Laser's Edge imprint which unfortunately has also gone out of print, 'Praise The Load' has long been considered one of the best American progressive albums.

The Load - Praise The Load
ARTIST: The Load
ALBUM: Praise The Load
LABEL: Owl Intermedia
SERIAL: OWL-2557
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 1991, Lasers Edge (USA). LE-1008

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA Flag
LINEUP: Sterling Smith - keyboards * Dave Hessler - guitars, vocals * Tom Smith - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Fandango * 02 Flyaway * 03 Brandenburg #3 * 04 Dave's 'A' Song * 05 The Betrayal * 06 The William Tell Overture

Background

Formed in Columbus, Ohio in 1973, The Load created quite a buzz on a local level opening shows for Bob Seger, Rick Derringer and Michael Stanley Band and eventually making their way to California working with Dennis Wilson and Meatloaf although not before releasing one album on the tiny Owl label.

A big three to four digit collectible until the early 90's CD reissue on The Laser's Edge imprint which unfortunately has also gone out of print, 'Praise The Load' has long been considered one of the best American progressive albums.

The Songs

I'm not sure this album deserves that kind of credibility since it's far from the most original album I've heard, fitting square with most of the criticisms concerning progressive rock from America that the music was nothing more than copies of their British counterparts.

This is definitely true with The Load as there are plenty of references to The Nice, ELP and even Brian Auger found on this platter although I do hear a smidgen of late 60's California psychedelic here and there so they can't be totally accused of plagiarism and there are some worthwhile tracks here.

The opener 'Fandango' clocking in at just over the eleven minute mark is just a notch above Vanilla Fudge and I like Sterling Smith's keyboard work here giving the music a Middle Eastern feel and while the world certainly didn't need another cover of J.S. Bach's 'Brandenburg #3' or 'The William Tell Overture', both are better than Ekseption at their worst.

Of the two vocal tracks 'The Betrayal' is by far the best and the most progressive and Dave Hessler is a competent singer although on 'Flyaway' he just drags it out for way too long and really neither song moves me as the groups instrumentals which again, really don't do much for me to begin with.

In Summary

A year later while still struggling in California, The Load recorded a second album 'Load Have Mercy' which was shelved until a Laser's Edge (again) reissue a few years back. It's a step up from 'Praise The Load' and worth keeping an eye out for as it too has gone out of print.

Trainspotters will recognize keyboardist Sterling Smith from his variety of session works including albums by Barry Manilow, Randy Meisner and Steve Perry, while other Load members gave up on music and returned to the quiet life in Ohio.


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