The celebrated Athens, GA, band is reissuing their 1983 sophomore LP Around The Bend on September 1st
The music scene out of Athens, GA, in 1983 was no doubt a bustle of creativity with the national releases of such classic albums as R.E.M.’s Murmur and Whammy! by The B-52’s, thanks to the rise of college radio on American campuses in the early ’80s.
“College radio created and supported the alternative genre —as commercial radio, for the most part, shunned all the bands,” proclaims guitarist Marc Cline of Love Tractor, a band who were on the ground floor of the Athens music scene as well. “There were exceptions, but in general commercial radio play lists were not curated by the stations, it was pay for spins and the major labels owned those playlists. But all the ‘College Rock’ bands were on Venture Bookings Roster (Frank Riley), so we all knew each other quite well … The dB’s, Hüsker Du, The Replacements, Dream Syndicate, Alex Chilton (used to hang in the recording studio with us in Memphis because we had the killer weed), The Bongos, Meat Puppets, Robyn Hitchcock, Violent Femmes, 10,000 Maniacs, The Gun Club, Indigo Girls, The Feelies.”
Formed in 1980 while they were students at the University of Georgia, Love Tractor no doubt deserve a place on that luminous list, as they also released a classic album in 1983 called Around The Bend that’s getting a long overdue reissue on September 1st via Propeller Sound Recordings with new packaging and a pair of bonus tracks.
And Rock & Roll Globe is honored to premiere the lyrical video for one of the album’s finest songs, “J.E.B. Pharoahs,” today on the site.
“’J.E.B. Pharaohs is one of my favorite Love Tractor songs of all time,” Cline says about the song. “It rocks in an unconventional way. The guitar line that brings in the song suggests a middle eastern melody, then the band comes crashing in, rocking in the key of C but in a reserved fashion, setting up suspense for the musical sections to come. After the first 10 measures we drop out which leads us into the next rocking section with poetic vocals. The vocals come in not like a typical singer songwriter song but as another instrument —arranged to add additional texture, melody, mood, color and especially the depth of lyric poetry.”
“This arrangement is repeated with a slight variation into a cool solo and the surprise groove ending with a bass drop out leaving the drums and two guitars playing the same riff that eventually strays off from each other as the bass comes back in,” adds bassist Armistead Wellford. “The impact of the surprise ending is so powerful live. It has a groove that rocks, dynamics that wake up the audience and an arrangement that is interesting, fresh and suspenseful. The instruments talk to each other, with the hi hat presiding. ‘J.E.B. Pharoahs’ is such a Love Tractor song, complex and only has three chords.”
“’J.E.B. Pharoahs’ is my favorite song on Around the Bend and one of my all-time favorite Love Tractor songs,” interjects the band’s second guitarist Mike Richmond. “The main thing I like about it is that it is the opposite of the formulaic music that tends to dominate the musical landscape. You know what I mean, so many songs are structured like intro – verse – chorus then another verse chorus followed by a solo maybe and then back to chorus and outro. The lyrics consist of a short poem, there are no choruses. ‘J.E.B. Pharoahs’ creates and follows its own logic and inspiration which includes pick slides, string taps and a hypnotic outro. It is also a great live song!”
According to Cline, the lyrical video for “J.E.B. Pharoahs” adds a keen visual element that articulates the song’s mystique.
“The video for ‘J.E.B. Pharaohs’ is a lyric video created to evoke a sense of mystery by showing imagined rather than real places,” he explains “The song has an edge to the instrumentation, and the lyrics and vocals, although minimal, enter the song like desert wind. The vocals are a colorful whisper that is illustrated by red dust devils. The lack of fast cuts in the video harken to the minimalism of the song with long clips that allow the music to swirl around and hopefully allow imagination to take over.”
Around The Bend is essential listening for fans of not only American college rock but groups like New Order and The Durutti Column as well, and “J.E.B. Pharoahs” is the perfect introduction to this remarkable LP that’s been out of print for far too long.
VIDEO: Love Tractor “J.E.B. Pharoahs”