When it comes to an obscure prog or hard rock band that released only one or two albums and broke up, it would be considered a collector’s gem that goes up for about $700 to buy on eBay and the one who wins keeps it in its original format whether it’s the Pink or Swirl label from Island or Vertigo and its the pure music geeks enjoyment to listen to the album the way it was meant to be. That said, one of the most lost and unsung bands from the UK was a band called Tractor.
Hailed by Stuart Maconie, BBC Radio Presenter of Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone and Julian Cope, who championed the sole self-titled debut album as the Album of the Month on the Head Heritage site back in November 2004 after the passing of John Peel who started his own record label, Dandelion Records, is now considered one of the most finest gems in the history of the overlooked bands of the golden-era from the early 1970s. 40 years later, it still sounds fresh and with some dosages of Folk, Doom Metal, Proto-Punk, Ambient, Blues, and evil Psych at its best, this was the album that would have scared the hippies with a mighty explosion.
The burst tone generator introduction into the power chords of Space Rock dealing with the issues on the dangers of the Music Business can come bite you in the gut with the opener All Ends Up as vocalist Jim Milne describes about what the listener needs to know about signing the contract with: “Don’t sign your life away/don’t let the man in the grey suit deceive you/ once you’re in you stay/If you tell him you’re lonely, he’ll never believe you/sign forgotten lies.”
With a punch of the chords in a heavy tone along with the percussion and bass lines, it makes it very Sabbath meets early Hawkwind that forms with a lot of structured background inspiration. Little Girl in Yellow starts off with this gentle folk acoustic around the fireside then becomes a road along rockin’ adventure while Everytime It Happens and The Watcher carries the spirit of the heavenly sounds of the Haunting Acid Folk sound with its structured beauties.
Then, Ravenscroft’s 13 Bar Boogie is a shuffling blues hard rock groove that is perfect for a dance at the prom as Jim and drummer Steve Clayton lay down the harder edges of the Blues as they go into town and dealing with making love, shows that the band are having a blast and having fun performing this wonderful little ditty. Shubunkin, meanwhile, has this Krautrock atmospheric background in the realms of Agitation Free meets Amon Duul II as Jim takes his guitar into the Milky Way as he and Steve go into the Outer Limits to set the voyages in their space ship to make it a fantastic adventure.
Hope in Favour has some upbeats as the drums make it sound like a train chugging as Jim’s voice goes into the Leslie Speaker by making him sound like a Robot on dealing with your choice of words as the 9-minute closer Make The Journey, sounds like a ‘60s Garage Rock adventure into the Wild that was left off the Nuggets box set as if Todd Rundgren had produced the album and would have been a match made in Garage heaven.
The bonus tracks which was originally released in 2002 in honor of the 30th anniversary of the re-release features a live performance at Glaystonbury, demo tracks, and a new song No More Lies, makes it an uplifting issue dealing with War, Peace, and how the politics can stop making excuses. Tractor were way ahead of their time, but this is quite an adventurous exploration for those who are looking for unknown and unsung music.