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Friday, December 6, 2013

Soon to be familiar

This is the third and final part of Mick Middles' piece in Sounds, September 1980, after Steve Perrin had just left The Distractions and Arthur Kadmon stepped in.


DISTRACTIONS IN DEXY'S 'DEATH THREAT' SHOCKER 

by MICK MIDDLES




FOR THE uninitiated, The Distractions have, for the past year, been Manchester's most likely looking chart contenders.  They seem perfect.  An endless stream of intriguing, original and yet unbelievably instant pop tunes poured out of the Finney / Perrin partnership.  The band should have broken the chart at the beginning of the year with the admittedly delayed 'It Doesn't Bother Me' but it didn't even cause a ripple.  Next came the band's godawful cover of 'Boys Cry', which, although it gained extensive airplay, still somehow failed to penetrate the charts.  I was almost relieved, had 'Boys Cry' succeeded we could have seen The Distractions moving away from their normal highly personal pop and into a much more bland musical environment.  Then, of course, the album.  Packed with the very best pop songs, the standard of which our pathetic chart never sees these days.  However, on the album the songs merged together in one large, sweet, sticky mess.  The production was like a layer of cotton wool, the effect muffled.  Although the album has sold well, no-one seems over pleased with the finished result.  The album contained everything except. . . .

Variation, experimentation and guts.  The more I think about it, the more I understand that the answer may indeed lie with Arthur Kadmon.  His brittle biting rhythm would have created a nifty diversion, added another dimension.

The three remaining band members, Adrian Wright, Pip Nicholls and Alec Sidebottom are the solid basic driving force of the band.  They create the 'soon to be familiar' Distractions sound and hold it firmly together.

And Mike Finney, who writes lyrics directly from experience.  Romantic depression, hopelessness, emptyness, coldness, loneliness.  All the emotive subjects were filtered through the thick, fruity soulful voice of Finney and delivered neatly and sweetly.  Are they still as excited about their future as ever?

Finney: "I'm very excited.  We are writing more and better now.  Steve was great but he wasn't particularly prolific."

The band, as you read this, are about to depart on a lightning five-day visit to America's East Coast.  Whether or not their brand of English pop will appeal to the Americans is a matter of some doubt.  However, Arthur is happy, he is going to finally realise one of his ambitions - to spend an evening inside a seedy New York jazz club.

I wonder if they'll serve him.

(c) Mick Middles, Sounds, 13th September 1980.


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