It all started in 1986, when Avi Ballali, a musician, bassist, and singer, returned to Israel from Germany.
Ballali and Uri Dushi set up a band called "Akan", somewhere in "Triton" studios the two wrote and recorded materials in English. Quite by chance, in the next room, Yehuda Poliker recorded his album "Ash and Dust". Poliker's technician invited him and Yaakov Gilad to listen to the two people sitting in the next room cutting their recording reels. Ballali said that at that moment Gilad told him,
"Listen, if you will write materials in Hebrew, contact me," he decided to form "Tractor's Revenge".
After that founding moment at "Triton" Studios, Ballali decided to gather some of his youth friends whom he knew from school or played with on various occasions to form a new band. A band that will express in Hebrew all the materials he wrote in English.
With a new vision and songs in his drawer, Ballali, Ofir Leibowitz (guitar), and Ilan Green (keyboards and vocals) joined drummer Danny Makov and tried to create interest from the record companies.
Ophir and Green were the ones who pushed to sign with a record company, but all the companies that they approached rejected them, except for one guy!
Nitzan Zeira, who was a well-known figure in clubs at the time and founded the first independent record company in Israel called "Nana Disk". He found interest in the band's demo recordings. After brief negotiations on a recording contract with the quartet, he signs them an agreement to produce a new album. Zeira offers the musician Berry Sakharof to produce the record and in the early 1990s, the recordings begin at D.B. Studios.
By the way, this album was supposed to be the label's debut album but since at that time, Berry Sakharof and Rami Fortis returned from abroad with the album "Stories from the Box" they became the label's debut album.
(Photo: Ariel Van Straten)
The band worked for a year on their debut album, coming up with a refreshing breeze and a defined stance. Ballali said they wanted to create an alternative in the full sense of the word, not alternative music, but an alternative approach in their concepts to the mainstream, to create something different in Hebrew that people could connect to and not advocate extreme experiments as he had in "Akan".
Despite the "anti-commercialism" that the band allegedly advocated, Zeira decided to add Berry Sakharof to the band as a music producer so that it would be a "familiar name" among anonymous people. Berry who was a hero for the band members, blended in perfectly with the musical character and direction of the young band.
By the way, the band got its name from Rami Fortis who would come all the time to visit Berry and the band in the studios and would "disrupt" the recordings. He is the one who gave them the name "Tractor's Revenge", based on a song he archived from the album "Stories from the Box". The band members did not really like the idea but by chance, there was a reporter from the newspaper "Ha'ir" and she published an article about a new Israeli band being formed, expected to release its debut album, and the band's name is "Tractor's Revenge". Once it was published in the newspaper, there was no way back!
Even before the band's debut album was released, it managed to create a sensation and conquer the audience. "Tractor's Revenge" came up as an opening act for Fortis and Sakharof at "Allenby" club at the premiere show of "Stories from the Box", this was the first time they performed "Game of Tears", "Kites" and a dance version of the prayer song "Lord of Forgiveness". Ballali said the audience just freaked out and made this song a hit when the album came out. Since no one had ever heard of such a mutation, they felt they were making history even before they knew what they were doing.
The day after the same performance, Ballali receives a phone call from Ohad Naharin who asked him to create music for the "Batsheva" dance band. Ballali said it was a real celebration for them as if someone had given them the green light to break forward with what they were doing. The band composed the music for the work "Wall" by Ohad Naharin, which performed at the Israel Festival in May 1990, following which they went on a tour abroad with the "Batsheva" dance band and began a novel to create music for dance performances.
Two interesting stories about two famous songs on the album...
"Kites" (Afifonim) - Ballali reflected that the band members were very into classic rock music, they fell in love with the song "Kites" by the band "Simon Dupree and the Big Sound" a psychedelic British band from the 60s. Ballali and Green decided to translate it, later they wanted to release an entire album of covers of the same band's songs but since it was a too difficult task they gave up and stayed with the song "Kites".
"A Game of Tears" (Mishak shell dmaot) - The melody is from an Italian song called "Fake Tears" that Ballali used to sing humorously to his spouse in the 80s. He later wrote a chore in Hebrew and once in the rehearsal room, Ofir asked him to sing the chore. Sakharof who heard him sing, forced him to immediately write lyrics for the entire song and insisted that the song will be on the album. It was a week before the end of the mixes and this song was not in the plans at all, it came in at the last minute.
On May 3, 1990, the debut album called "Tractor's Revenge" was released. It made the band to be the great promise of Israeli rock and is considered one of the masterpiece debut albums.
The album was hugely appreciated and a great, but reasonably commercial, artistic success.