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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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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stockport Merseybeat

Paul Morley's 2006 anthology of Manchester and Liverpool is snappily entitled North By North West - departure 1976 arrival 1984 - a particularly local history compiled by Paul Morley.  The Manchester disc is a roll call of the obvious - Buzzcocks, The Fall, Magazine, John Clarke, The Durutti Column, Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, New Order and The Smiths.  But in amongst these giants are The Passage, Blue Orchids, Ludus and, in at number 10, The Distractions.  Here's what Morley had to say about Time Goes By So Slow in the sleevenotes:

North By North West. (c) http://saltyka.blogspot.com.

"The Distractions had a girl on bass, Pip Nicholls, who I remember spelt her name with a few l's or was it a few p's?  Their Drummer Alec Sidebottom had been playing local music since the 60's, when he was in the Purple Gang.  Their singer Mike Finney wore glasses like he didn't even know it.  Their guitarist Adrian Wright used to play the guitar like he was having a nervous breakdown.

To some extent they were more Liverpool pop eccentric than some of the other groups around at the time, even though they came from Stockport, as if the Undertones had come from Hazel Grove.  Perhaps it was something to do with the Mersey, which started its journey to Liverpool just outside Stockport.  Perhaps they were Stockport Merseybeat.  They were a bit warped cabaret as well, as if Tony Christie had formed a punk group inspired by Elvis Costello and Jonathan Richman.  They started to write these bouncy, bitter kitchen sink love songs after Pete Shelley's showed what you can do with a love song and a punk sound.

After releasing the quite magnificent pop song Time Goes By So Slow on Factory they signed for Island on the same day as U2 and The Distractions didn't sell so well, there was some debate at Island as to which band to keep.  For a moment The Distractions, being from Manchester which was quite a place at the time, led the race.   In the end U2 overtook them, and made another album for Island.  The rest is that thing that U2 know very well as history.  For The Distractions the rest was a film you'd want to see directed by Ken Loach, or at the very least by Pedro Almodovar."

It's a fine collection, although a notable omission from the Liverpool or 'Liverchest' bonus disc is Occultation label-mates, The Wild Swans.  Front man Paul Simpson does feature by the way of Care's Flaming Sword, but the obvious Wild Swans track, the indispensable Revolutionary Spirit, found its way onto John Peel's Right Time Wrong Speed 1977-1987





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