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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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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Close (to the Edit)

Close (to the Edit) 7" (ZTT). (c) www.discogs.com.

Close (to the Edit) was a number 8 hit single by the Art of Noise in May 1984. The group was a kind of muso-celebrity collaboration comprising journalist Paul Morley (of course a big fan of The Distractions), producer Trevor Horn, Anne Dudley, Gary Langan and JJ Jeczalik. Close... has long been a favourite track of mine but little did I know that it almost included a lead vocal from none other than Mr Finney. Apparently Mike's vocal version actually received some airplay on Mark Radcliffe's show on Piccadilly Radio - we've tracked down some lost Distractions-related tracks already but this one might be beyond us! (Less interestingly, the female "hey" at 0:20 was sampled in The Prodigy's Firestarter in 1996). Mick Middles hailed The Distractions and Time Goes By So Slow in particular in his review of the Factory Records Communications 1978-1992 Box Set on The Quietus, and in his review of the ZTT Box Set, explains all:

"In 1983, amid all the colour and fizz of the last golden age of pop, two friends of mine were asked to provide lyrics and vocals for a new track, intended to be the pilot for a new kind of record label.

The label was not quite ZTT at that point and it was NME journalist Paul Morley, who desired the vocals from the "boy with the bow tie" (the boy being Mike Finney, cherubic ‘anti-star’ at the helm of Manchester’s The Distractions and his singing partner, Julie Middles, close relation of yours truly). A tape duly arrived in the post and, after two days of frenzied lyric scribbling, the pair booked into Stockport’s Cavalier Studios to lay down the vocals. That was where I first encountered The Art of Noise’s sublime Close (to the Edit). I was immediately dumbstruck and somewhat saddened. It was a record like none I had ever encountered before and I have not come across anything remotely like it since. My sadness was simply for my friends.

“I doesn’t need you,” I told them. “Paul Morley is wrong. This is a perfect recording as it is and any vocals would simply be complicating it.” I guess I was correct. Despite receiving enthusiastic playing by Marc Radcliffe on his Piccadilly Radio Show, ‘Transmission’, the vocal track would never emerge. Close (to the Edit) of course, would become a huge hit in several guises and the label set up by Trevor Horn, his wife Jill Sinclair and Paul Morley - who, in his brilliant sleeve notes here, admits to working in the ‘dream department’ - would be famously named ZTT…or Zang Tumb Tuum and could be spelled any way you wished [1]."
Mick Middles, 2008

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