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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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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Distracted Debra

The Distractions' one and only album to date was almost universally praised on its release by the gentlemen of the music press - Paul MorleyDavid HepworthKris NeedsDave McCullough, and later David Quantick.  However, there was one slightly dissenting voice in Melody Maker in the form of Debra Daley.  But it still makes great reading, 31 years on...

"Nobody's Perfect" 
(Island ILPS 9604)

BEHIND the stylishly modern cover of "Nobody's Perfect" lurks a tidal wave of teenage agony and heartache.  Almost every track is filled with the loneliness of the long distance lover forever "crying alone and waiting for the telephone" which never rings.  The Distractions spend night after night, gnashing their teeth in the face of constant rejection until sad becomes maudlin.

No wonder Lorraine and Valerie are down the disco with the other guys; this masochistic misery becomes paralytically self-centred.  Their obsessions are perfectly realised in the Kay/Scott composition "Boys Cry" - it's performed with heartfelt assurance and a tenderly appropriate "crying-style" vocal which elsewhere is tediously banal.

Steve Perrin (guitar and vocals) either wrote or collaborated on 11 of the 14 tracks and, while sometimes exhibiting a reasonably upbeat pop sensibility, he's overly seduced by the smooth tunefulness of the group.  There is much harmony and musical dexterity demonstrating that the Distractions can play and sing well but it's subjugated to an unadventurous lushness that inevitably sounds insipid.

Looking for the ultimate emotional cocktail, they toss their voices into the blender and come up with  "Looking For A Ghost."  While a super-sensitive voice sings disconsolately of how "my only lover lives encased inside my head," the barbershop quartet in the background goes over the top in an increasingly elaborate structure of oohing and aahing that makes the Platters sound like the Angelic Upstarts.  The Distractions are far too wimpish to carry off the grand tearjerking style.

They're at their best on two racy pop numbers called  "Waiting For Lorraine" and "Louise."  The first has some interesting textures and is athletic enough to avoid the soppy pitfalls of "Leave You To Dream" and "Nothing."  "Louise" benefits from an attractively springy intro with back-up harmonies and occasional keyboard capers.

At the moment the Distractions are a small sum of very obvious influences longing to be next month's Harpers when they are really only last year's True Confessions.

DEBRA DALEY, Melody Maker, 12 July 1980


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