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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, January 9, 2010

Diamonds Amongst The Debris

The Distractions, 1979: Alec Sidebottom, Adrian Wright, Mike Finney, Steve Perrin, Pip Nicholls.


Manchester 1978. Howard Devoto's Magazine emerged from the ruling Buzzcocks whilst a clumsy Warsaw were becoming Joy Division. Mark E. Smith was forming a chaotic The Fall and A Certain Ratio were experimenting with post-punk-funk. Disparate bands of brothers dotted around town were waking, like the city itself, blinking from the demolition of familiar landscapes.

Bob Dickinson, original keyboard player in Magazine: "There seemed to be dozens of new bands starting up, but they weren't punk-sounding or looking. The great hope after the Buzzcocks for me was The Distractions. (Legendary photographer Kevin Cummins, who shot the cover of And Then There's... agrees: when asked who were his favourite Manc band that never really made it, "My money was on The Distractions"[1]). I saw them at Band on the Wall first. I liked Mike Finney's gold lamé jacket and the sexual ambiguity of the band's bassist, Pip Nicholls. They wore T-shirts that read 'Distractions Fail Sex Test'. They were friends of the City Fun collective and Pip was featured on the front cover of their first issue [2]."

City Fun was an alternative magazine/fanzine covering the Manchester music scene between 1977 and 1984. Its editors included Cath Carroll, Martin X and Liz Naylor. Liz adds: "The first punk gig I went to, in June 1978 when I was 15, was The Fall at Droylsden Town Hall. I had seen this tiny A4 poster where someone had written 'The Fall live with The Distractions'. I went to the Factory a lot because The Distractions were managed by Martin X, who lived on nearby Bonsall Street in Hulme round the corner from the club. I could steal beers so it was a cheap night out. I spent most of my time off my face and I just wanted to be there [2]."

Mick Middles' review of the recent Factory Records - Communications 1978-1992 boxset: "As Simon Reynolds recently noted, the 'duds' of the Factory roster are many and utterly swamp the fleeting glimpses of perfection. But there are diamonds amongst the debris. The Distractions' Time Goes By So Slow cements a moment in Manchester when this most intriguing of pop bands - far beyond 'power pop' - would add the counterbalance to the darkness of Joy Division. The Distractions were fascinating, a whole messy tumble of sexual dynamic that filtered into their short, sharp songs. Factory couldn't hold them and they departed to make one shockingly produced album for Island before being dropped [3]."

Indeed, at one time The Distractions were considered "media darlings, with their Factory connections" [4]. Theirs is a story worth telling...


1. www.onemickjones.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=119035
2. Robb, J. (2009). The North Will Rise Again - Manchester Music City 1976-1996. London: Aurum Press.
3. http://thequietus.com/articles/01018-factory-records-communnications-1978-92-box-set-review

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