Love Tractor: Love Tractor  CD/LP   (HHBTM Records)

Release date: November 6, 2020

Bio: Music scenes never invent themselves, except when they do.

That’s what makes the story of Athens, Georgia so exceptional and enduring. Punk rock may have cast its seeds to the wind in the late 1970s, but no one could have predicted it would take root in a sleepy little Georgia college town and blossom in a way that would change the face of music.

In early 1980, three friends and fellow art students Mark Cline, Michael Richmond, and Armistead Wellford came together to make music. They didn’t have many contemporaries, aside from The B-52s and Pylon, both fine acts. But Love Tractor didn’t sound like either. “Before ‘us,’ there were no bands in Athens,” recalls Cline. “Athens was a complete ghost town. There was Athens and UGA and then there was us. “Us” being the misfits in the Art school, we were about 150 students out of 35,000. We were very much apart from the rest, so we made our own fun. Part of the fun was creating music as there were no venues that catered to our crowd.”

Choosing the name Love Tractor, the group soon happened upon a sound. Each member came from different musical backgrounds and had different musical influences, yet instead of devoting themselves to one particular influence, they simply let the songs dictate themselves. “We were all dialed into each other, contrasting voices of instruments, not really playing along with each other but creating a groove,” Wellford states. “We found it interesting and intense to compose something new and different with our instruments; human voices would have just disrupted the flow and got in the way.”

The band set some modest goals. “When we formed in 1980, all we aspired to do was play New York City, release a record on DB Records, and get covered in NY Rocker and Interview Magazine,” states Cline. “And within a two-year period, we accomplished all three.”

Signing to the legendary Georgia label came quickly.

“The signing was a handshake,” Cline recalls. “The label was Danny Beard, period. He had vision and great taste— he still does. He took on bands that he loved. We wanted to be one of those bands. He produced the B-52’s and Pylon, our friends. At the time I shared a house with Michael and Curtis from Pylon, and we all went to art school together. Michael and I had gone to high school together in Atlanta. So if DB was good enough for our friends it was perfect for us. We would be able to do artistically exactly what we wanted, which was thrilling. So we were thrilled when Danny approached us about recording a record! DB was exactly where we wanted to be at that time.”

Love Tractor came to fruition unexpectedly. “We went in the studio to do a single,” Cline says. “We had two days booked, but we just blew through each song quickly. Danny would say, ‘Well, ok, let’s do another song.’ And…we stopped at 11 songs,” Cline laughs. “We recorded so fast because that’s exactly what we were like live,” Wellford remembers. “Love Tractor was basically live in the studio.”

Indeed, Love Tractor burns with the intensity and electricity found at a live show. In its eleven tracks, you can hear a band inventing a sound that resonates with familiarity whilst offering something most unique. One can hear an amalgam of sounds throughout—a little post-punk here, some art-rock there, and a dash of Ennio Morricone there. More importantly, you can hear the electric sounds of the fresh and budding Athens, Georgia scene being born on this recording. No one could have predicted it, but Love Tractor was the sound of the present and of the future. In fact, four decades on, it’s hard to think of any records that sounded like Love Tractor at the time, yet today you can hear the album’s influences on many a recording.

Love Tractor may have been released in 1982, but one shouldn’t consider this reissue a mere postcard from the past. Instead, think of this as the reintroduction to a living, breathing work of art, one that still sounds as fresh and unique as it did 38 years ago.

“When I hear it, I love it. It sounds like nothing else, like nobody else,” declares Cline. ”Even after 38 years it gives me goose bumps.” Wellford agrees. “I love our music. They’re like our children. All of our DNA combined to make up these lovely children.”

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HHBTM will release a remixed and expanded edition of Love Tractor on November 6th on all formats. The release will be preceded by an exclusive Record Store Day 7” single consisting of two reimagined songs originally recorded during the Love Tractor sessions, “60 Degrees and Sunny” b/w “Festi-vals”. Love Tractor has been lovingly remixed by David Barbe and Bill Berry, and features liner-notes from R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, The B-52’s Kate Pierson, and noted writer/journalist Anthony DeCurtis. The album artwork has been re conceptualized by the band — all three visual artists.