Love Tractor


Along with luminaries like R.E.M., the B-52’s, and Pylon,Love Tractor helped establish the college town of Athens, GA, as a mecca of alternative music in the early ’80s. Comprised of guitarist Michael Richmond, multi-instrumentalist Armistead Wellford, drummer Kit Schwartz, and guitarist Mark Cline, the band’s earliest material was instrumental, if for no other reason than that they could not afford a PA system. However, the approach set them clearly apart from other acts on the crowded Athens scene, and helped win them a deal with DB Records. 1982’s Love Tractor documented their formative approach, which touched heavily on fusion and even cocktail music. By their 1983 follow-up, Around the Bend, Richmond was taking the occasional stab at singing; after the 1984 EP ‘Til the Cows Come Home, Love Tractor resurfaced in 1987 with This Ain’t No Outer Space Ship, a full vocal exercise that also found the group tackling a cover of the Gap Band’s “Party Train.” The quartet enlisted Mitch Easter to produce 1989’s Themes from Venus, which, while comprised largely of vocal tracks, did contain the instrumental “Nova Express,” effectively bringing the Love Tractor story full circle. Accordingly, in 1991 the group decided to take a break from the music business; they re-formed periodically, and began writing and performing new material for a projected album. During their hiatus, Wellford played in Gutterball with Steve Wynn,Bob Rupe, Sparklehorse, and the House of Freaks. Cline traveled, studying Italian opera and ancient languages, while Richmond studied art history.