Love Tractor

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Love Tractor
OriginAthens, Georgia USA
GenresAlternative rock
Years active1980 (1980)–current
LabelsDB, 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 promo.jpg
Love Tractor
Love Tractor

Love Tractor (1980–current) is a band from Athens, Georgia, founded in spring 1980 by guitarists Mark Cline, Mike Richmond and bassist Armistead Wellford. Like The B-52's, Pylon and R.E.M., Love Tractor is lauded by critics and music historians as one of the founders of the Athens, Georgia, alternative rock scene. Love Tractor toured extensively and recorded six critically acclaimed albums, consistently topping the college and alternative charts. Love Tractor 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, along with multi-instrumentalist Douglas Stanley (The Glands, and major contributor to Love Tractor's 2001 album "The Sky st Night," released the instrumental single: A trip to the Museum, heralding a return to the band's instrumental roots). On August 13, 2016 all original members of Love Tractor (Mark Cline, Mike Richmond, Armistead Wellford and Andrew Carter) reformed to perform at the Athens Pop Festival, the performance was at the Georgia Theater in Athens, GA. The band was accompanied on stage by Guitarists Bryan Poole (Elf Power, Casper & the Cookies), Jay Gonzalez (Drive by Truckers), drummer Joe Rowe (The Glands, Casper & the Cookies, Pylon Reenactment Society), synthesist Kevin Dunn (The Fans, Regiment of Women). This enhanced version of Love Tractor (including all three original members) continues to perform live and will be re-releasing the Love Tractor Catalog on vinyl as well as previously unreleased songs and new material.


The band was formed in April 1980 by guitarists Mark Cline, Mike Richmond and bassist Armistead Wellford. The band played their first few gigs with only a drum machine, but drummers Kit Swartz (formerly of The Side Effects) and Bill Berry (future R.E.M. drummer) soon took over rotating duties as drummer, later in 1983 Andrew Carter would take over as full-time drummer, after Carter's departure John Poe of Guadalcanal Diary rounded off the line up. Producer and studio keyboard player Alfredo Villar (of The Fans) contributed to the first two albums.[2] Love Tractor originally performed only instrumental material, but minimal vocals from Richmond were added starting with their second album "Around the Bend."

In 1981 the band signed to DB Records. Their first release was a self-titled album, produced by Bruce Baxter (Pylon) and Alfredo Villar (The Fans). 1983 saw a 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, and a college chart-topping cover of Kraftwerk's "Neon Light," on 1984's "Till The Cows Come Home," the band signed to Big Time (America), releasing This Ain't No Outer Space Ship in 1987.[2] After 1989's Themes from Venus, produced by Mitch Easter, 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 including Chester Starr (Edible Lunatics) 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]



  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 Archived 2012-12-09 at Rock Athens March 1, 2001