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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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Friday, August 30, 2013

Quietly excellent

This is the first half of fine piece by David Hepworth in the July 1980 issue No 3 of The Face magazine.  Many thanks to Jackie Whatmough for the article.

Distracted Distractions 
(l to r): Steve Perrin, Adrian Wright, Mike Finney, Pip Nicholls, Alec Sidebottom.  
Photo: Paul Slattery.


EVEN FOR a native of Manchester, a city that prides itself on turning out pop stars who neither look nor act the part, Mike Finney, lead singer with The Distractions, could well be the ultimate case of miscasting.

Were you in the market for a dodgy photocopier, you'd expect to run across scores of similar types - the fuller figure, the sensible spectacles, the incorrigibly jolly manner - but rock 'n' roll?

Well, there he goes, skipping across The Venue stage in a plaid jacket that could best be described as unfortunate and giving the old melancholy the treatment like a latterday Roy Orbison; not so much of the piercing anguish, but much of the same doleful sincerity.  No side to him at all, if you get my drift.

Earlier that day the first finished copies of The Distractions' quietly excellent and extremely playable debut album, "Nobody's Perfect", had arrived at Island Records and he and drummer Alec Sidebottom had fondled their copies like Christmas morning children.  For a band who've been in business for near on five years they still betray equal parts dry amusement and genuine joy in the things they do.

You wouldn't guess that Sidebottom had passed this way before in the late sixties with The Purple Gang, of "Granny Takes A Trip" almost fame.

Absorbing the vaguely ungainly left-field pop that makes up "Nobody's Perfect", sorting through the various strands (British Beat, psychedelia, Velvet Underground), it's not easy to come to terms with the fact that The Distractions are a product of Tony Wilson's Factory and have performed more support gigs with The Fall than can be consistent with a sense of humour.  But apparently when Finney and guitarist/songwriter Steve Perrin first cooked up the combo it just seemed natural to roll with the flow of Mancunian punk and play the same dungeons and watering holes. Considering the fact that their brand of beat is superficially frothier and considerably less portentous than that of their contemporaries, who wear their ironies like capes, it's amazing that they found the level of acceptance they did.

[to be continued]

(c) David Hepworth, The Face, No 3, July 1980.

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