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the official distractions website

Welcome to the official Distractions website. We will be aiming to record the history of one of the greatest, but least heralded, of all Manchester beat groups.

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Saturday, June 23, 2018


Here's the second part of the piece in Torn Apart: The Life of Ian Curtis, by Mick Middles and Lindsay Reade. The first part is here.

"Ian was always extremely open and agreeable with me," says Finney. "When we played with Joy Division he absolutely went out of his way to seek me out and talk about the two bands. It seemed natural at first, because that's how I always knew him. Then, slowly, I started to realise that perhaps he wasn't like that with everyone. I also noticed that the rest of Joy Division, while always being perfectly OK with us, were also a little way because we were very much a live band. I am not saying for one minute that we were on the same planet as them in terms of sheer talent... we weren't. We were a dance, pop soul band who liked to get up on stage and lighten up the crowd."

"He once... it could have been at Leigh... I am not sure... but he once went on on about "Time Goes By So Slow". He wanted to know when it was written. Had it been written immediately after a break up? Was it written in a state of despair, I suppose that, looking back, you could look too deeply into that. My theory is that he was just discovering that song-writing could be cathartic. I don't know if that was ever the point with Joy Division but I did sense that that was what he was thinking. I knew nothing about his private life. I don't remember meeting Deborah and, frankly, The Distractions were a sexual and emotional minefield at the time. I think Ian wanted to know how we dealt with all that. I don't know, frankly. But there was a kind of link between us."

(C) Mick Middles & Lindsay Reade.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

A welcome refuge

The first part of a lovely piece in Torn Apart: The Life of Ian Curtis, by Mick Middles and Lindsay Reade.

The link between The Distractions, who performed early on the Leigh bill, and Joy Division is worthy of a mention. Although only fleetingly a Factory band, with one albeit great single, "Time Goes By So Slow", the connection between the two bands was forged on a series of dates during which the lightness of their pop songs perfectly balanced Joy Division's dark introversion. Inspired by these gigs, Paul Morley once claimed: "If Joy Division are the perfect rock band for the Eighties, The Distractions are the perfect pop band". Intriguingly, while the remainder of Joy Division shied away from the hip core who surrounded The Distractions (who have been largely written out of their considerable central role in the Manchester scene), Ian Curtis warmed to Mike Finney, whose cheery bonhomie may have seemed a welcome refuge.

(C) Mick Middles & Lindsay Reade.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Manchester's best kept secret

Here we have one of the earliest pieces of Distractions history, courtesy of Stuart Murray and Mark Windsor of those other legendary Manchester post-punk groups, Fast Cars and V2. It was in Sounds in late 1978 or early '79, featuring TJM Records, Tony Davidson's famous Manchester label. 

Tony takes up the story. "The advert was in Sounds music paper and it was of the first 5 releases on the TJM label. It was a half-page advert and cost £600 plus VAT. At this stage of the record company it was all systems go, to get as much profile and sales for TJM as possible. Looking back, I was taking the profits from the rehearsal rooms and pouring them into the record label. Many thanks to Stuart Murray for the memory."

Note how The Distractions' debut demanded more copies than Mick Hucknall's Frantic Elevators!

announce the inception of a Manchester based Record Company.
The label for the discerning record buyer.

The sound of tomorrow
made for today

35 Little Peter Street
Knott Mill
061 236 2717

Distributors: Virgin Records, Rough Trade, Small Wonder Records, Bonaparte Records, Lightning, Discount Records, Wind-up Records

Watch out for the TJM tour this spring

"Manchester's best kept secret"



"You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That"

4 tracks, Limited edition of 6000

12 inch EP, Availble Feb 1st

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The stuff of legend

The Distractions' 'Kindly Leave The Stage' has appeared on a number of Best of 2017 lists. Here's the first, thanks to Dave Steinfeld (Staff Writer / Archive Creator) at Blurt. The eagle-eyed will also see The Granite Shore's extraordinary album, 'Suspended Second', and The June Brides' 'Three Wishes - Part Time Punks Sessions' (with Aberdeen and 14 Iced Bears), listed by Tim Hinely (Senior Editor / Zines & 45 Ed. / Mile High Club). These wonderful records feature the Distractions' Nick Halliwell, Stephen Perrin, Arash Torabi and Ian Henderson on 'Suspended Second', and Arash plays bass in the June Brides. 

5. The Distractions — 'Kindly Leave the Stage' (Occultation Recordings)  

The Distractions are the stuff of post-punk legend: an obscure band from Manchester, England who made one critically acclaimed album in the early '80s and promptly vanished. The title of their third long-player says it all. 'Kindly Leave The Stage' is their swan song from singer Mike Finney, guitarist/songwriter Steve Perrin and their mates. While the opening track, “A Few Miles More”, is catchy, it isn’t happy. And after that, the album is basically one long farewell. But few bands do sadness as well as The Distractions.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Leaving them wanting more

* * * * *  

Leaving them wanting more... much more
The Distractions - Kindly Leave The Stage

J. Fennessy, 14 September 2017 

It hardly seems fair that this is the last Distractions album. After all, there have only been three of them since the first one came out in 1980. But if there is any truth in that old showbiz adage about leaving them wanting more, this is the album to go out with. Many long-time fans may find it hard to believe but this may just be a better all-round long-player than that much-loved first album "Nobody's Perfect".

When the Distractions released their also excellent second album "End of The Pier" in 2012, veteran fans were overjoyed and there was even talk of a re-release of Nobody's (criminally no longer available) and a career-long retrospective with rare tracks. The feeling of optimism was boosted by songs of the quality of "Wise", "Boots", "100 Times" and "Girl of the Year". The classic combination of Mike Finney vocals and Steve Perrin on guitar was enhanced by Nick Halliwell in particular - the band was hot and the future looked bright. It is not quite clear what has happened since and it is very sad that this is their last album, particularly because the whole band are on top form on this record.

Those expecting brash and noisy punk singalongs will be surprised by this album if they did not buy the last one, as there is nothing like the faster tracks (e.g. Paracetamol Paralysis) on "Nobody's Perfect" on this album. The mood is closer to that of classic slower songs from that album like "Stuck In A Fantasy" or "Still It Doesn't Ring". Mike Finney's soulful, emotion-drenched vocals are as striking as ever as he rings every ounce of passion from these songs of loss, regret, love and defiance. You can hear every word - none of that posey rock star snarling or slurring - and the words are well worth hearing because these are a great set of lyrics. It would be tedious to quote examples because there are so many good lines to choose from and you really need to hear them in context to get the full effect.

Steve Perrin and Nick Halliwell are superb throughout on guitar on their own compositions, which are catchy and melodic in the Marr/Morrissey mode. The bass guitar is also a constant brooding presence and I have not been so aware of such a gently probing bass sound on a new record for years. Musically, this band do not make a false step and you will find these songs nagging away at you for days afterwards - a good sign in my book. Also worth noting are the superb backing vocals, which enhance the atmosphere carefully created by Mike's precise singing. The only thing I find slightly irritating is the brief band comments between songs - maybe one or two quips would have been okay but I think they overdid it here - sorry, guys!

Like quoting lyrics, it seems wrong to single out songs because this album works so well because it is a cohesive whole and the songs complement each other. "Kindly Leave The Stage" demands to be listened all the way through and then, as we used to do in the old vinyl days before CDs, stuck back on the turntable and played again. However, I have to draw attention to the first track "A Few Miles More" - a storming, brilliant opener that you really have to hear. If there was a Distractions Greatest Songs album, this would be on it along with early singles like "Time Goes By So Slow" and "Doesn't Bother Me" (Incidentally, if anyone from The Distractions is reading, if there ever is a re-release of "Nobody's Perfect" I would love to see these two tracks added to the playlist of the original album!) Finney's voice soars confidently into the stratosphere on this song and the guitars are upfront too, joining him in the heavens. And that bass, there is always that bass!

Also worthy of mention is the song "Nowhere" which neatly looks back at the band's past with a sly reference to "Time Goes By So Slow" in the lyric. "Wake Up and Kiss Me Goodbye" is a positive song amongst all the plaintive wordplay on this CD, a simple but touching expression of love. And the final song "The End of The Pier" not only harkens back to the second album of that name but also brings the whole record and, perhaps, the whole career to a fitting conclusion. You can almost hear the curtain fall.

Cue applause. End credits.

But, guys, you surely, surely cannot call it a day after such a great record. The "Bring Back The Distractions" campaign starts here!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It's just right

Although the third and final Distractions album, 'Kindly Leave The Stage', was released earlier this year, its predecessor, 'The End Of The Pier', is still getting some rave reviews.  This one is from 2004, and while this five-star review was kindly published by the reviewer at Amazon, the LP (just £10 with free CD and download!) or CD (a bargain £5) is best purchased from Occultation directly.

Deserves to be more widely heard

By spineynorman on 6 January 2014

I saw the Distractions supporting someone in Birmingham many many years ago (was it The Members?). I was so impressed I then went out and bought 'Nobody's Perfect'. I can't think how I would ever have chanced upon such a gem had I not seen them that night, purely by chance. What a find. The only area where I disagree with the previous reviewer is favourite songs from Nobody's Perfect - "Still it doesn't ring" and "Stuck in a fantasy" for me ! Or was it "Looking for a Ghost" or "Leave you to dream"

How do you follow what, for some, was as good an album as they have ever heard? It must have been difficult to decide how to play it, update the sound, the style, the lyrical ideas? It could have been a disaster but thankfully no chance of that. It's just right. The sound and style obviously wasn't in tune with whatever the majority wanted then and it certainly won't be now but it ought to be. It takes a few listens for it to develop. Remember when all the great albums did that? Great songs, great singing, great playing. 

Mike Finney had such a vocal talent, I wondered what he would be like now. Well he's just as good. A bit different, a bit older, a bit growlier but how this man's singing isn't rated up there with the best is a complete mystery to me. Think of a cross between John Lennon and Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops. Probably not right but hopefully you get how highly I rate him. And it isn't anaesthetised by production like some "X Factor" winner. This is real heartfelt singing. In fact the Beatles comparison also extends to the guitar playing. Just as George Harrison embelished Beatles songs rather than trying to sound flash, so does Steve Perrin here. Please please give it a try!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A superb farewell

Here's a glowing review of The Distractions’ third and final album, 'Kindly Leave The Stage', from Manuel Borrero in the Spanish magazine, Ruta 66.  We've just seen a follow-up interview piece with Steve Perrin and Nick Halliwell in this months' magazine, which we'll feature and translate soon.

Kindly Leave The Stage

“I’m absolutely hooked on the final record by this now disbanded - amicably and innocently - combo who first stepped out in the turbulence of Manchester in 1980. Back in that dim and distant past, amidst all the upheaval of punk/new wave, they released their debut album, 'Nobody’s Perfect'. The follow-up took thirty-two years to arrive and was called 'The End of the Pier' and, by comparison with that temporal abyss it’s only taken them a few years to release what is their final goodbye, according to Mike Finney and Steve Perrin, who have always been the heart of the band. They say that resignation is the word that best sums up this finale, an outstanding group of ten songs breaking through the dark shadows rather like the weak sunshine of the first few days of spring. There’s a dense layer of intimacy to these tracks, sung up-close-and-personal, delicately wrapped in subtle instrumentation where the strings of the acoustic played by Perrin back Finney’s slightly soulish voice, with traces of forerunners such as Scott Walker and more recent comparisons like Edwyn Collins cutting through the arrangements of huge songs such as “The Fire” with its evocative whiff of the best British folk, the innocent atonement for sins detailed in “Talking to Myself” and the hidden happiness produced by “A Few Miles More”. A superb farewell. 

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