Love Tractor

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Love Tractor
Origin Athens, Georgia USA
Genres Alternative rock
Years active 1980 (1980)–2002
Labels DB, Big Time, RCA, Razor & Tie,
Past members
  • Mike Richmond, Mark Cline, Armistead Wellford, Kit Swartz, Bill Berry, Andrew Carter, Tommy Daughtry, Doug Stanley, Tom King, John Poe

Love Tractor (1980–2002) was a band from Athens, Georgia, founded in spring 1980 by guitarists Mark Cline and Mike Richmond. Like The B-52's, Pylon and R.E.M., Love Tractor is considered by critics and music historians to be one of the founders of the Athens, Georgia, alternative rock scene. Love Tractor toured extensively and recorded five critically acclaimed albums during the 1980s—and was particularly known for their instrumental rock.[1]

After a return to the public eye in the late '90s, Love Tractor released 2001's swan song The Sky At Night. The group disbanded in 2002. In 2015 founding members Armistead Wellford, Bill Berry and Mark Cline released the instrumental single: A trip to the Museum, heralding a return to the band's instrumental roots.


The band was formed in the spring of 1980 by guitarists Mark Cline and Mike Richmond. The band played their first few gigs with no bassist and a drum machine, but bassist/multi-instrumentalist/artist Armistead Wellford, drummers Kit Swartz (formerly of Side Effects) and Bill Berry (future R.E.M. drummer), later in 1983 Andrew Carter would take over as drummer and studio keyboard player Alfredo Villar (of The Fans) were soon added.[2] Love Tractor originally performed only instrumental material, but vocals from Richmond were added starting with their second album.

The band signed to DB Records. Their first release was a self-titled album, produced by Bruce Baxter and Alfredo Villar. 1983 saw second album Around the Bend; while on a tour promoting that album's release, Jon Pareles of The New York Times saw them at the Danceteria; in his September 1983 review, he said:[1]

"Most of Love Tractor's material moved at the steady pace of 1960's folk-rock, using winsome guitar leads above a cushion of rhythm guitar and a reassuring bass. Like instrumentals by the Ventures or the Raybeats, Love Tractor's tunes use two or three recurring segments and little improvisation. But they don't repeat - they develop. Where song lyrics might have told a story, Love Tractor let the texture of the music thicken. The drumming would get busier, or the bass line pushier, or the lead guitar line more intricate; the clear, catchy melodies grew more urgent with each reprise. When a vocal would float in for a few moments, it was just one more unassuming, thoroughly melodic piece of a song."

After two albums in 1984, the band signed to Big Time (America), releasing This Ain't No Outer Space Ship in 1987.[2] After 1989's (Themes from Venus), the band went on semi-hiatus.[2] Wellford later joined Gutterball.[2] The band stopped touring completely in 1992, but Cline, Richmond, and Wellford continued to meet every couple of years in Athens to write songs.[3] Later, the original lineup (with several different drummers replacing Schwartz) recorded for RCA and Razor and Tie Records. The band re-formed in 1996 as a performing entity eventually recording 2001's 'The Sky at Night' for Razor and Tie.[4]


  • Love Tractor (1982) DB Records
  • Around the Bend (1983) DB
  • Till the Cows Come Home (1984) DB
  • Wheel of Pleasure (1984) DB
  • This Ain't No Outer Space Ship (1987) Big Time RCA
  • "Party Train" single (1987) Big Time RCA
  • Themes from Venus (1989) DB
  • The Sky at Night (2001) Razor & Tie
  • A Trip to the Museum (2015) Cosmic Media Single


  1. ^ a b Folk-Rock: Love Tractor, a September 13, 1983 article from The New York Times
  2. ^ a b c d Strong, Martin C. (1999) The Great Alternative & Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 0-86241-913-1
  3. ^ Love Tractor Ride Again, a March 22, 2001 article from Rolling Stone
  4. ^ Love Tractor plows into the future Rock Athens March 1, 2001