TRACTOR "John Peel Bought Us Studio Gear & a PA: Rare Versions of Recordings & Singles" - OZIT CD 215 (2006)

Get Ready to Rock, 2006

Some 35 years and a great deal of stylistic diversity may separate Tractor and The White Stripes, but the enthusiasm that Tractor generated in DJ John Peel and that in turn led him to sign the duo to his nascent Dandelion label in 1970 was the same undiminished enthusiasm that led to him champion the highly successful White Stripes years later

The album title sums everything up nicely, as Tractor went on to record, gig and re-emerge at the legendary series of Deeply Vale festivals using the very pa gear that Peel enabled them to buy.

Given intricate music on this album it is sometimes hard to imagine that for the most part you are listening to no more than the combined efforts of Jim Milne on guitar and bass and Steve Clayton on keyboard's and occasional bass. The duo still exists today playing select shows whenever possible, but this excellent compilation on the back of Peel's interest all those years ago, demonstrates just what an influence Tractor were and still are.

And while it has to be said that long time fans will probably have most of this music, the high quality packaging, and previously unseen replicated photo cards and new research will be of essential interest to fans and collectors alike

For the unconverted, Tractor are a hybrid of west Coast rock and psychedelic influences who will appeal to acoustic and rock fans alike. As the liner notes hint, Tractor are the kind of band whose appeal stretched from Tyrannosaurus Rex to Zeppelin fans alike!

The West Coast feel is provided at the outset on 'King Dick11' while the following 'Squares' provides the kind of Eastern sounding acoustic sweep that was to become an integral part of the early Zeppelin sound. The short link piece 'Angie' dips into an acoustic Floyd style groove while Jim adds some very progressive lead guitar on one of the albums stand out tracks 'Willow'. It is in fact only the fuzz guitar effects that dates the album, as for the most part the sheer variety of ideas and musical eclecticism fits perfectly into the Peel Dandelion niche.

Happily it is this timeless aspect that might just belatedly bring Tractor back into the spotlight.

Tractor are both a wonderful slice of our psychedelic hippy past and a major influence on our contemporary present, and given the additional track featuring Peel's sampled voice over a boogie instrumental track and the complete A's and B sides of the band's singles career, this 'John Peel Bought Us Studio Gear and a PA' compilation is well worth seeking out.

Review by Pete Feenstra