John Peel Bought Us Studio Gear and a PA

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Continuing the Ozit label's so-admirable excavation of the Way We Live/Tractor archives, John Peel Bought Us Studio Gear & a PA digs back into the band's earliest recordings to resuscitate the demo tape that first brought them to John Peel's attention -- he signed the duo to his Dandelion label, and remained a staunch supporter throughout the remainder of his life. It is not hard to understand why. The sound quality across these eight songs does leave something to be desired, but Tractor's essential charm shines through regardless, shifting effortlessly from dreamy pastoral folk (the shockingly brief "Angle") to almost Sabbath-tainted guitar rock ("King Dick II"), from fuzz-packed pop ("Storm") to the Whole Lotta Zeppelin riffing of "Willow." These same eight tracks would make it onto the band's A Candle for Judith debut album, but the freshness that feeds out of the demos renders it an altogether different listening experience. The demos are followed by a "2006 remix" of something called "John Peel's 13 Bar Boogie," in which snatches of the DJ's speech are mixed with, indeed, a boogie riff; normal service is then resumed with an accounting of four Tractor singles, opening with the unabashed pop of "Stoney Glory," and traveling through to the superlative "Average Man's Hero." An excellent liner booklet wraps up the package with an informative and often humorous accounting of the band's story, interwoven with their own adventures with and memories of John Peel. The limited-edition packaging also includes a slipcase and a selection of historic postcards.

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