Saturday, December 31, 2011
2012 promises to be the most exciting year in more than three decades for The Distractions. Not only will the impossible be made possible, with the release of The Distractions retrospective, but we'll see the group's first album in 32 years. With these in mind, here's our top 5 Distractions moments of 2011:
5. City Fun articles...
Thanks to Mike Noon who painstakingly scanned old copies of the City Fun fanzine, we were treated to a glimpse of the late '70s, early '80s Manchester post-punk scene. The City Fun "house band" were featured regularly, in some great pieces, as well as some duffers.
4. Mike Kellie joining the group...
Bringing on board a sticksman with such pedigree as The Only Ones' Mike Kellie was a real coup, and his influence on the recording of the new album, No.2 on our list, was undoubted.
3. Unearthing so many forgotten gems...
The number of old hidden master tapes, demo reels, alternate takes, live cassettes and much, much more, means that No.1 in this list promises to be better than any of us could ever imagined when the possibility was first raised.
2. Recording the new album...
We've heard how the studio sessions went and a lucky few have heard acoustic versions of some of the tracks. The anticipation of hearing The Distractions' first album since 1980 is only beaten to second place in our list due to...
1. The confirmation of the long-awaited Distractions compilation...
Legal wrangling had prevented prior efforts to release some of The Distractions' back catalogue, and to date, only a couple of tracks have made it to CD compilations, the famous FAC 12 and also Doesn't Bother Me. But now, thanks to the influence of Neil Storey, former Island Records Head of Press, and behind the scenes work of others, the comprehensive and fully-remastered retrospective is planned for Spring 2012.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The news is spreading, slowly but surely. Earlier this month from Cerysmatic Factory, the unofficial blog, history and archive about Factory Records, Manchester, England...
06 December 2011
Distractions retrospective out Spring 2012
The long-awaited Distractions retrospective will be released on Hidden Masters in Spring 2012. It will include the impossibly-catchy Factory Records single FAC 12 Time Goes By So Slow in all its glory. All tracks will be fully remastered and will include the Nobody's Perfect album originally released via Island.
Around about the same time that the new studio album will be released on Occultation.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Here are a couple of cuttings from George Gimarc's Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter's Guide to Underground Rock, 1970-1982. In a nice twist of fate, following the first Distractions entry in 1979 is news of The Only One's latest single, featuring drummer, Mike Kellie, who would go on to drum for The Distractions 32 years later!
February 5, 1979 - Monday . . . . .
THE DISTRACTIONS are the subject of the second TMJ release in as many months. It's a four track, 12" EP titled "You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That!" Songs include "Doesn't Bother Me," "Nothing," "Maybe It's Love" and "Too Young." The Manchester-based group is comprised of Adrian Wright and Steve Perrin-Brown on guitar, Mike Finney on vocals, Alec on drums and Pip Nicholls on bass.
The following year, not only were Mike Kellie's The Only Ones again featured with The Distractions, but Occultation label mate, Martin Bramah and his Blue Orchids were mentioned alongside an unknown American group, R.E.M.
May 8, 1980 - Thursday . . . . .
THE DISTRACTIONS first LP is just out on Island Records. It's called "Nobody's Perfect," and includes the tracks; "Waiting For Lorraine," "Something For The Weekend," "Sick And Tired," "Leave You To Dream," "Louise," "(Stuckina) Fantasy," "Nothing," "Wonder Girl," "Untitled," "Still It Doesn't Ring," "Looking For A Ghost," and "Valerie." They also have a single of "Boys Cry (Where No One Can See Them)" and "Paracetamol Paralysis," both tracks from the LP.
(c) George Gimarc (2005).
Of course, every Distractions track mentioned here - and much more - will turn up on next year's eagerly anticipated Hidden Masters retrospective.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
"There is a lovely, lost Distractions song, 'Time Goes By So Slow', which sees the singer referring to Manchester as it was ("They put your statue up in Albert Square and all the people passing by just stare ... but Albert just won't do, I don't need him but you..."). It was a lyric not lost on Garvey, who could understand the use of landmarks to tell a tale of lost love."
Reluctant Heroes: The Story of Elbow, Mick Middles (2009).
(c) Music Room.
"C’era un gruppo chiamato Distractions, un gruppo straordinario – 'Time Goes By So Slow' e un singolo davvero notevole. Alcuni di questi gruppo sono stati quasi come dei sogni, e quasi come se non fossero mai esistiti."
"There was a group called Distractions, a unique group - 'Time Goes By So Slow' a truly remarkable single. Some of these groups were almost like dreams, and almost as if they never existed."
Totally wired. "Post-punk". Dietro le quinte, Simon Reynolds (2010).
"That is what remains so ironic; that in dysfunctioning, The Stone Roses almost... almost grasped the heights scaled by Led Zeppelin. Undisputed greatness. Then again, as one briefly celebrated Manchester band - The Distractions - once noted, nobody's perfect. Not even the finest band that this fantastic city of Manchester has ever produced. But they almost had it..."
Breaking into Heaven: The Rise and Fall of The Stone Roses, Mick Middles (1999).
Thursday, December 1, 2011
We're delighted to bring you news of the long-awaited, comprehensive and fully-remastered Distractions retrospective, from Neil Storey at Hidden Masters:
During the Autumn of 2010, work began on another Hidden Masters project, centered around one of the truly great 'lost' Manchester bands of the early '80s – The Distractions.
If the name doesn't readily spring to mind, a brief aide-memoire: The Distractions' first releases were on the TJM label before they signed to Factory. One single later and Nick Stewart (the man who inked the pact with U2) signed them to Island.
The Distractions one and only album, Nobody's Perfect, was released to sales that failed to match the lavish critical praise heaped upon the band or the record. Thus, after the obligatory singles and weeks spent touring the length and breadth of Britain, they were promptly dropped (in favour of the Irish quartet) when label cutbacks dictated that an A&R choice had to be made between one and t'other.
The Distractions reappeared on Rough Trade and Bronze before grinding to a halt at no real fixed point in time during the middle of the decade.
And there the tale would probably have ended… were it not for Occultation's Nick Halliwell who reunited co-founders Steve Perrin (writer & guitars / by now a teacher in Auckland, NZ) and Mike Finney (singer of songs / a Customs Officer in Hull) at a studio in Liverpool during the summer of 2009.
Occultation released the resulting two EPs to rave critiques. The shell on the egg of Distractions #2 had been pierced and, although geographically challenged, vague plans were made to record a second album… 31 years after their first.
With better than anticipated sales of these two EPs coupled to renewed media interest in The Distractions as the backdrop, Hidden Masters began the research process that would lead to assembling a database of all known recordings. Because, other than their Factory single, none of The Distractions' material has ever been made digitally available or reissued in any form.
Meantime, those imprecise new-LP plans turned to reality during the Summer of 2011 when messrs Perrin and Finney tipped up at a small studio in Exeter armed with a clutch of new compositions. Accompanied by Halliwell (guitars), Arash Torabi (bass) and veteran drum-major Mike Kellie, the new Distractions album was recorded in four days.
Concurrently, the months of deep-archive research were bearing fruit; all of The Distractions key masters had been located. However, using the same methodology as for any Hidden Masters project, the complete audio-database also includes live recordings; demos, outtakes, different mixes and radio sessions – some of which only now exists on DAT, cassette or virgin vinyl.
Hidden Masters will shortly start the digitisation process of all found (at FX with Richard Whittaker as chief engineer) before embarking on the song selection process in collaboration with Mike Finney and Steve Perrin.
With the new Distractions' album being readied for release via Occultation in late Spring 2012, Hidden Masters plan to release the fully re-mastered retrospective to coincide.
Envisaged as a 2xCD set and currently untitled, it will include their one and only Island album – about which, the final line in Paul Morley's July 3rd 1980 lead review for the NME stated | This is heart beat music that bruises the soul.
© Neil Storey, 2010-2012.