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Tractor - Tractor CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.45 | 26 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Take a little bit of Black Sabbath (mostly tempo and vocals); add some Neil Young; stir with some psych because – well, it’s the early seventies. And top it all off with some na´vely optimistic lyrics. What do you get? Well, a Tractor apparently.

Oh yeah – and some of the most striking and energetic drumming you’re likely to ever hear, especially from a band that is basically a duo. Both of them play bass as well, by the way. Very unusual.

Even though Tractor have been around for decades they are a fairly obscure band. A duo really, consisting of guitarist Jim Milne and percussionist Steve Clayton. Like I mentioned, they both play bass as well. And they both sing.

This is early seventies music in a folk tradition, so there are plenty of vocals, and since it is the early seventies there’s also plenty of psych. Mostly guitar, but also a variety of percussive instruments, most of which are unidentifiable but interesting.

This is the same group that made up The Way We Live, and in fact some of the various releases and reissues of their various albums display both band names on their labels. This was one of the early acts signed to John Peel’s Dandelion Records, and many of their records have been re-released on CD. In fact I just ordered the original ‘A Candle for Judith’ reissue and can’t wait to get my hands on it. These two guys make dynamic music, energetic and tightly arranged while still retaining that billowy feel of the freer style of early seventies music.

The band seems to have no particular sense of traditional or mold when it comes to style, moving from folk to pop to heavy psych with seamless ease. The vocals are not remarkable but fit the music quite well, and the guitar and drum arrangements are crisp and clean.

On the more ‘Sabbath’ heavy side are tracks like “All Ends Up” and the cacophonic “Make the Journey”. The band’s more folkish side comes out on tracks like “Everytime it Happens” and the almost John Denverish “The Watcher”. “Shubunkin” is an outstanding and memorable mild psych instrumental with a surprisingly melodic rhythm, and the band shows their roots with a down-and-dirty blues dirge on “Ravenscroft 13 Bar Boogie”. This CD reissue features several later tracks as well, all of which are slightly poppish in tempo but are quite pleasant nonetheless.

This is a great album, although I suppose it doesn’t quite rise to the level of outstanding. Well worth picking up if you get off on psych-tinged folk, and definitely worth listening to for Clayton’s wild and unconventional drum work. Easily three stars, and awfully close to four (but not quite). Well recommended though – most prog fans will find this to be a very decent offering from a somewhat obscure band with a small but loyal following. A solid three stars.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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