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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, October 11, 2012

Blue-eyed soul sounds

With all the recent focus on the triumphant homecoming gigs in Salford, not to mention the new album, it's nice to be reminded that the old classics are appreciated as much as the new material.  Here's the Portuguese April Skies blog on classic Distractions, old and new (apologies for the dodgy translation - although some of the nicer mistranslations are left in):

In a strictly temporal sense, post-punk means obviously the period immediately after the boiling punk. Already in musical terms, the concept is widely used, although passed to the generality of the masses as the bastion of so-called urban-depressive culture of the appearance (and ethics) of punk.  What today is something overlooked is that this period also produced pop music, something that we can state without having to move up to the synth and neo-romantics of the early eighties.  Right there, before the end of the 1970s, a large batch bands - mostly forgotten today, some form of crime - recovering the dictates of sixties pop, soul with an accent here, a hint there with funk, always under the philosophy do-it-yourself.

Of this flow of bands, many short-lived, for which I hold a special fascination, a highlight are the Mancunians The Distractions, a collective of soul-inflected pop, that time has erased even considering the rich musical history of their city.  But what is certain is that they glowed in this period, highlighted by their lone album (Nobody's Perfect, 1980) with a multinational label, before imploding the following year.  Before that, however, they recorded what would be your ultimate theme for Factory Records, also showed that the publishers, Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus, were not restricted to the diptych Joy Division / New Order and adjacent projects.  Indeed, "Time Goes By So Slow" is one of those songs that deserves the stamp of timeless, hard to beat in any career, a blatantly shimmering melancholy break-up song.  The line and rhythmic stridency of guitars inevitably refer to their time, but the most distinctive feature of this theme is the voice of Mike Finney, one of the best blue-eyed soul sounds of the season that sings each phrase with an urgency so touching.  I must confess to you that, at the time I write these rough lines, and "Time Goes By So Slow" runs on repeat, I am driven by a mixture of defiance and revolt this song not be disclosed to the four winds.

Could this faint hope that this happens not to be vain, that because two years ago The Distractions are back and have just released an album.  I've heard it, with some prodding, and I can guarantee you that The End Of The Pier retains intact, after a respectable 32 years, the best qualities of the band, i.e., a keen pop sense, a bleak romance of another era, and a voice that carries the urgency that would only be thought possible when singing at an early age.


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