Physical education instructor/multi-instrumentalist Jim Milne and part-time painter/poet Steve Clayton formed Rochdale-based beat group The Way We Live in 1966.
Performing primarily as a two-piece, they certainly paid their dues before receiving the recognition of John Peel, who signed them to his cult label Dandelion Records. Nowadays A Candle For Judith (dedicated to Clayton’s wife) is arguably the most expensive and sought-after release from the Dandelion catalogue.
A Candle For Judith is an excellent album of contrasting textures, from dreamy, ethereal folkiness (Squares) to bombastic hard rock (Willow), with a constant air of psychedelic mystery. The spine-tingling fuzz tone of guitarist/vocalist Milne gives the album an intriguing edge for fans of underground rock music of this period.
Production values are basic but inventive, with a primitive soundscape adding to the diversity of material. Storm is the perfect example of all of the band’s elements in one song – pastoral acoustic verses with feedback, building to a fuzz-driven chorus with the repeated line ‘a storm is coming’, followed by a succession of blistering solos.
Not long after its release, the band changed their name to Tractor (upon the advice of Peel) and released another album for Dandelion under that moniker. Tractor have continued to perform and record on and off. (Steve Clayton had his first novel, The Art Of Being Dead, published in 2008.)