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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, April 11, 2013

Wonderful moment in time

The second part of a superb extract from Mick Middles' book, Factory: The Story of the Record Label.

The Distractions' Factory single was to become a tragically lost classic, a record that would remain, undoubtedly, close to the hearts of most who would trundle down to the Factory.

[Tony] Wilson: "I just think The Distractions were a wonderful moment in time."  Failing to make waves, despite its simmering poppiness, the song, 'Time Goes By So Slow', became as locally anthemic as 'Transmission' later, or The Fall's 'Totally Wired', or Buzzcocks' 'What Do I Get?' or Magazine's 'Shot By Both Sides', but it just couldn't seep into any kind of mainstream.  The fault lay, most definitely, with Factory's idiosyncratic approach towards promotion.  I recall, just as a typical case, attempting to prise a white label of the song away from Wilson's clutching hands.  "I've only got two copies," he would scream, and scamper into the Factory Club's appalling 'dining area'.  [Rob] Gretton's statement summed up the event neatly.

"I understand your problem," he said.  "Here you are... about to go to London to write a singles column for a national music paper, and Tony won't even give you a copy of The Distractions' single to review.  It will probably go down in the mail, to some skinhead cunt at Sounds next week, who will thoroughly slag it off.  Tony will then complain and refuse to speak to Sounds.  It is stupid, I agree with you, but I sense that just about sums Factory up."

Gretton, it seems important to point out, was just as perplexed by Wilson's behaviour as yours truly - although I did manage to scrounge a copy and make it joint Record of the Week.  It was Record of the Week in the NME too.  Was this a case of Wilson deliberately intensifying the press fervour, or just being cheekily awkward, or dangerously evasive because rock journalists are a pretty stupid and unforgiving bunch?

The Distractions were more than just a group.  In Manchester, at least, they represented a central axis of the scene, a scene which flourished in the poorly produced, reduced type which splattered inelegantly across the pages of the Manchester fanzine, City Fun...

(c) Mick Middles (2009). 
Virgin Books: London. p.165-166.

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