The Way We Live was one of the many British underground bands who hit the scene in the early '70s. The group metamorphosed into
Tractor and released one very collectible album. They also laid down a slew of tracks between 1969 and 1974, some of which are finally seeing the light of day in this beautiful two-LP set. With the recent revival of interest in psychedelic and progressive rock, Tractor has even resurfaced as a performing and recording entity. Distinctive in their day for combining acoustical folk elements, psychedelia and a nascent form of heavy metal, such styles are represented in Steve's Hungarian Novel.
"Who Am I" is a sweet, lilting number for acoustic guitar and understated drums that invoke Peter Frampton in his prime, from the first couple of Humble Pie albums or Frampton's first solo release. 'Woman Of Fire," 'Call Him" and others bring very early Black Sabbath to mind in their melodies and delivery, though the guitar work is less savage but still sufficiently gritty and aggressive. The spacey slide guitar, a-la David Gilmour or even Syd Barrett, and the cosmic soundscapes of "Lid Back Full Freakout" are firmly in the Pink Floyd circa "Meddle" realm and are effective indeed. As you might guess, the group also indulged in blues-rock colored by that underground, progressive tinge found in the work of so many British groups of the era. There is a bit of rural folk psych, mature Beatles' style artsy moves and other stylistic gestures - and it's all quite fine. While it has that late-60s, early-70s aura, the music manages to sound fresh. In keeping with the zeitgeist of their heyday, the nearly side-long track that concludes the double album is an environmental track titled "Stream," with the sounds of a gently babbling brook clocking in at just over 16 minutes - perfect for blissing out and Zen contemplation. A limited edition of 1,000 records was pressed, including 200 signed by the duo that makes up The Way We Live/Tractor.
(Psygressive Records, P.O. Box 116, Northwich, Cheshire CW9 5UG, UK, www.tractor-ozit.com)