Tractor “Beyond Deeply Vale”

Mysteriously enjoyable and the first of a series of Deeply Vale related products.

A number of Northern legends are embedded in this intriguing DVD, which provides excellent navigational fun. Even if Tractor, whose softened and intelligent prog tones seem to have attained an unlikely poignancy in recent times, are not within range of your tastes, you can divert to the glorious memories of the Deeply Vale Free Festival.

This semi-anarchic, rag-taggle collection of wigwams and stage entanglements took place in the late 70s and, fuelled by the enthusiasm of Ozit-Morpheus Records owner Chris Hewitt, featured the likes of The Fall, Fast Cars, Steve Hillage and even Mick Hucknall’s Frantic Elevators. Although these artists are only featured in a sequence of photographic snapshots, it still makes compelling viewing.

There are two sets and assorted rarities from Tractor, once the darlings of John Peel’s innovative Dandelion label. Now trimmed to an invigorating duo, they possess an aura of calm assurance that is the result of a band who own bagfuls of surprisingly melodic songs that sway from the trippy to the soulful. The celebrated idiosyncrasies of their hometown Rochdale, with its darkly brooding moorlands, seem etched into every song, much in the manner of their Oldham neighbours - geographically and musically - Barclay James Harvest.

Record Collector, July 2004