Photographers: Chris Hewitt; Steve Hardstaff; Alan Burgess; Andy Burgoyne ; Gordon Tilstone .
Tractor's self-titled album was originally released in 1972 on BBC Radio One DJ John Peel's Dandelion Records label. Previously, this duo -- guitarist/vocalist Jim Milne and drummer/percussionist Steve Clayton -- were known as the Way We Live, and under that name they recorded A Candle for Judith for Dandelion in late 1970 (it was released in January 1971). One of the more remarkable things about this album is the fact that it's completely multi-tracked by Milne and Clayton. In fact, when Peel and his partner/manager, Clive Selwood, signed the Way We Live on the strength of their home-produced demo, Peel is said to have thought they were a group, despite being told that everything on the album had been created by just the two musicians. For Tractor's sessions, the duo spent time in both Dandelion's attic studios (located near where Milne and Clayton lived together, communal-style, in Rochdale, England) and also recorded and mixed at engineer John Brierley's bedroom studio, just down the road from their house, on Edenfield Road. The album -- an original LP copy is highly collectible -- has a nice mix of psych-rock/folk ballads and heavier blues-type material. "Little Girl in Yellow" is a tenderly sung, bucolic acid folk romp, while "Ravenscroft's 13 Bar Boogie" is just what you'd expect from the title, a boogie rock number that seems like a throwaway simply because it doesn't fit with the feel of the other tracks. The patchouli-scented "Shubunkin" begins as a memorable psych-folk pastiche with wah-wah guitar flashes before it plunges headlong into "Hope in Flavour," with its distorted vocals and ragged acid rock flourishes. "Everytime It Happens" returns to the pastoral English countryside with a folkish melody that recalls mid-period Fairport Convention. "Make the Journey," the album's closer, has distorted guitars and wildly pummeled drums, but the real highlight is its double-tracked chorus. Upon its release, the album began appearing on various radio charts, and by January 1973 Tractor had climbed to number 19 on Kid Jensen's Hot Heavy 20 on Radio Luxembourg. That same week it was also number 30 in Virgin Records' top-selling albums. The album's relative success led to Tractor performing their first ever live gigs; their first -- still as a duo -- was at Heywood Civic Hall, followed by another local gig at Rochdale College. [In 1990, the Repertoire label reissued Tractor on CD for the first time with three additional bonus tracks, including the folk-rocker "Stony End," a track from the duo's previously issued 1972 EP. The booklet comes with the album's original artwork and an annotated booklet.] ~ Bryan Thomas
Uncut (2/03, p.96) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Remarkable both for its musical fluidity and scattershot imagination....Genuinely thrilling..."