Love Tractor reissuing ‘Themes From Venus’ (stream an unreleased track)
Athens, GA greats Love Tractor have been reissuing their classic '80s albums and they've just announced that next up will be their third album, 1988's Themes From Venus, which will be out on vinyl and CD on November 19 via HHBTM.
Originally out on DB Records, Themes from Venus had the band working with the great Mitch Easter of Let's Active (who also co-produced the first two R.E.M. albums). “Mitch is like a member of the band; he knew all of our musical references,” says Love Tractor's Mark Cline. “He knew we wanted to make a unique album different from anything out there. He was not only a producer engineer but acted as a member of the band. We were friends before and even greater friends after.” The record also found the band, who were mostly known for instrumentals, heading further into vocal territory, which they were great at, as can be heard on the album's wonderful single, "Venice."
The album has been remastered, features new cover art, and the track order has been changed slightly to reflect the band's original vision. “Themes was meant to work as a whole, to be listened to as one piece of music,” Cline says. “We were very much digging back into our high school years, where an album communicated much more than bad production and a couple of singles. We really wanted the album to function like Bowie’s Low, with a rock side, and then a more aesthetic side. But one hitch was we couldn’t time the record (vinyl) so that ‘Venice’ was on side A with all the rockers. We’ve fixed that with the CD re-release.”
We've got the premiere of one of the reissue's six bonus tracks, the full-length version of the album's opening song, "I Broke My Saw." The song features lyrics by Love Tractor collaborator and Athens, GA poet John Seawright, who, long before Themes From Venus' release, reads the lines in classic documentary Athens, GA: Inside/Out/em>. "We normally wrote music first in Love Tractor fashion," the band's Armistead Wellford tells us. "I remember us catching the groove of the main part of the music that would become the chorus of 'Broke my Saw’, Mike’s twangy guitar lead, Mark's rock rhythm guitar and mine and Andrew’s cantering bass and drums. At that point we thought the music we’d just come up with would work with John’s poem. Then we came up with the next part which was a contrast to the first groove. Once we married those 2 parts we came up with a 3rd rocking part . The music was powerful live. As it turned out John’s lyrics worked perfectly on the first part we wrote. The 2nd part was different in feel so Mike added some lyrics that were more appropriate. We demo’d the song and then took it to Mitch Easter’s Drive in Studio. Although it was dynamic live, we edited out the 3rd rock part to condense the song and saved it for a bonus mix. Between the time John gave us his poem and when we recorded it, John read ‘I Broke my Saw' at a poetry reading at the Uptown Lounge. It was filmed and appears in the movie Athens GA: Inside/Out. It’s beautiful and southern. He liked William Faulkner."
Listen to the long version of "I Broke My Saw" below.
The Themes from Venus reissue also features new liner notes featuring Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Bob Nastanovich (Pavement, Silver Jews), Mitch Easter (Let’s Active), and Annie Zaleski (author of Duran Duran’s Rio 33 1/3 book). You can pre-order it now, and it's available in a variety of variants and bundles.
1. I Broke My Saw
2. Themes From Venus
4. Satan’s New Wave Soul Losers
6. Crystal World
7. Hey Mess
8. Nova Express
10. Here Come the Cops
11. Nighttime Time Zone (Brendan O’Brien Mix) *
12. Hey Mess (Brendan O’Brien Mix) *
13. Fantasy (Instrumental Mitch Easter Mix) *
14. I Broke My Saw (Long Version Mitch Easter Mix) *
15. Satan’s New Wave Soul Losers (Instrumental Mitch Easter Mix) *
16. Crash (Instrumental Mitch Easter Mix) *
*Bonus tracks are digital download only on vinyl versions of the reissue, but they are on the physical CD.