Tractor biography by Chris Hewitt.
Guitarist/vocalist Jim Milne and drummer Steve Clayton of Tractor originally came together in Rochdale, England, in 1966 when they were members of a beat group called the Way We Live. By 1970, the quartet -- which also featured bassist Michael "Slim" Batsch and founding member, lead vocalist Alan Burgess who would later engineer in studios for the band -- were down to just Milne and Clayton. They continued to make recordings in the bedroom studio of their friend, sound engineer John Brierley, and soon had transformed themselves into a heavy psych rock group, with Milne playing all of the guitars, bass, and lead vocals, while Clayton provided drums and bass. On the strength of their demo tape, Elektra U.K. A&R man Clive Selwood signed them to Dandelion, a label he and BBC Radio One DJ John Peel had started. The group was booked into London's Spot Studios and finished its first album sessions in two days' time. In January 1971, Dandelion released the Way We Live's debut, A Candle for Judith, named after Clayton's girlfriend(and now his wife]. The album earned critical praise if little in the way of sales. John Peel, who had links with Rochdale having worked there in the late fifties early sixties bought the band recording equipment and a stereo PA system. Peel also soon convinced the duo to change their name looking out of his kitchen window, spied a tractor on his farmhouse property and recommended it to them. Tractor's first release was an EP -- "Stoney Glory"/"Marie"/"As You Say" -- for Dandelion. They also backed up a Dandelion act called Beau -- led by C.J.T. (Beau) Midgley -- on the album Creation. All this recording was done in an attic and bedroom studio in Rochdale which John Peel named Dandelion Studios to tie in with his record label Dandelion named after his hamster [ which was christened by Peel's flatmate Marc Bolan] The duo's first full-length follow-up was released in 1972. By January 1973, the album was earning rave reviews. Longtime sound engineer John Brierley was eventually replaced by former the Way We Live singer Alan Burgess and along with Milne, Clayton, and new production manager Chris Hewitt, the group began building a studio in Heywood,Lancashire- Tractor Sound Studios again part financed by John Peel. Tractor eventually left the Dandelion label who no longer had distribution and recorded a demo for CBS Records. A new deal was not forthcoming, however, so the band released their next single, the reggae-tinged "Roll the Dice," on Jonathan King's UK records. In the summer of 1976, Milne and Clayton recruited bassist Dave Addison and teamed up again with John Brierley, now the owner of Cargo Recording Studios, Rochdale [ later to become Suite Sixteen Studios when taken over by Chris Hewitt and Peter Hook [ bass player from Joy Division and New Order]. They recorded another more single -- "No More Rock 'n' Roll"/"Northern City" -- which was issued on Cargo studios own Rochdale label cargo Records and made the newly invented Indie singles chart and it was released to coincide with the 1977 Deeply Vale Festival- a legendary North west England Music Festival of the late 1970's. In 1980, Milne, Clayton, and Addison re-grouped once again, this time adding blind musician Tony Crabtree on keyboards/guitar. They recorded another single -- "Average Man's Hero"/"Big Big Boy" -- this one for Roach Records which was a Rochdale label inherited by the band themselves from their labelmates Accident on the East Lancs. Tractor issued cds on numerous labels from 1991 before starting their own label in 1996 Ozit Morpheus Records incorporating Roach Records- which has now secured the rights to and issued their whole catalogue . Tractor [ Jim Milne and Steve Clayton] started performing live again from 2001 and have become a regular festival band playing both Glastonbury and Canerbury festivals and in December 2004 playing a John Peel nigh alongside Andy Rourke, Doves and Badly Drawn Boy- Tractor current cd albums include Tractor- Tractor, Tractor -The Way We Live A Candle for Judith, Tractor- Worst Enemies, Tractor - Before during and after, Tractor- John Peel Bought Us a Studio and a DVD Tractor Beyond Deeply Vale .