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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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Monday, September 30, 2019

Never mind the Buzzcocks

Another extract from Martin Ryan's recommended Friends of Mine - Punk in Manchester 1976-1978. You can buy the book direct from the publisher here.

This time we're in September 1977, a year before either the unreleased Cargo EP or the debut TJM2 'You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That' EP were recorded, yet The Distractions are supporting the next big thing, Buzzcocks.


Thursday 1st September 1977

The ink having dried on a contract with United Artists, it was a thriving Buzzcocks who took their turn to play Rafters. Like the Dogs, a deal afforded them new and better equipment, most notable Garth's exalted Gibson Thunderbird bass that was replaced early in the set to make way for its less cumbersome predecessor. The precise worth of the deal with UA was the subject of much speculation in the music press but Shelley would quantify the value at three quarters of a million. To this revelation Mick suggested that they had better be good to which Shelley countered, "I am good".

More promising than the money of Shelley's bluster, was a tape that DJ Rob Gretton played between sides described by Shelley as "just mucking about". The four tracks premiered were "Orgasm Addict", "What Do I Get?", "Whatever Happend To?" and "No Reply" that not only confirmed a forceful pop sensibility but assuredly demonstrated that Shelley's voice was not the obstacle to delivering Buzzcocks' music that I had feared. 

As well as The Prefects, who had brought their raucous bluster along in support and were to have their Mancunian cult status rewarded with an NME interview that Paul Morley was ready to conduct, Rafters was to witness an early showing of Stockport's own Distractions. Pete Shelley had described himself as more a "punk Mod" than a "punk rocker" and like Buzzcocks, The Distractions' music was unashamedly pop oriented with bespectacled singer Mike Finney offering a strong singing voice that steadied the nerves of the apprentice musicians behind him. They in turn seemed slightly unsure of the worth of their short sharp bursts of soulful pop music that had a familiar ring even on first hearing.

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