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the official distractions website

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, July 3, 2020

Justified acclaim - Classic Pop


Back to the long round-up of the Nobody's Perfect reissue reviews. This is the first of the absolutely glowing reviews that the release had in the music monthlies: a four-star Classic Pop review by John Earls in March 2020's issue. Nobody's Perfect sits alongside fellow Mancunians, M People - only The Cure's Disintegration and Electronic's self-titled debut received higher scores, and we can't argue with that. The Nobody's Perfect 2CD and LPs are still available from Occultation or Bandcamp (get the 14-track download there too).





THE DISTRACTIONS
NOBODY'S PERFECT
MAN IN THE MOON/OCCULTATION

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Originally signed to Factory, Manchester indie popsters The Distractions were poached by Island's Nick Stewart, the A&R who signed U2. Forty years later, Stewart reissues his charges' debut album on his own Man In The Moon label. His long-standing faith that The Distractions deserve more acclaim is fully justified. 

Singer Mike Finney has the same mix of intense fervour and soulful beauty as Kevin Rowland, while guitarist Steve Perrin's melodies take in Undertones-style melodic punk (Louise), pre-Smiths wistful wonder (Stuck In A Fantasy) and Phil Spector dramas (Boys Cry). 

A lost classic, it may be The Distractions' diversity that proved their undoing as they tear through so many styles and cheerfully master them all. 

The reissue is lovingly done - the original LP on heavyweight vinyl, or a 2CD set featuring 34 bonus tracks compiled from five standalone singles, four demos, a compilation appearance and an alternative mix of the original album by The June Brides producer Nick Halliwell.

Touchingly, The Distractions reformed in 2010. They've released two further albums on Halliwell's label Occulation and still tour. If Nobody's Perfect is any judge, they deserve wider cult hero status. 





Monday, June 29, 2020

New releases

While The Distractions have bowed out after their third and final album, Kindly Leave The Stage, and the triumphant reissue of Nobody's Perfect, this is not to say there will be no more music. In fact, June 2020 has seen not one, not two, but three new releases with a Distracting flavour.

On the same day, Friday 19th June, there were two Bandcamp releases, both in support of great causes (and of course, the fourteen band-owned, Occultation-administered tracks from Nobody's Perfect 2CD set can also be had for just £7). 



Lockdown Live! is a live music project in support of independent music venues in Manchester, including Gullivers and the Eagle, where Mike and Alex's live band have played in recent years. Their June releases continued on the 19th with Lockdown Live Volume 3. The compilation album is available to stream and download in MP3, FLAC and other high-resolution formats for just £5.

The Distractions have contributed a live version of 'Girl Of The Year' to the compilation. The track was recorded on the second evening (Saturday 1st September) of the wonderful Salford Arms gigs back in 2012. This professionally recorded track comes after a number from The Only Ones' Peter Perrett - and of course, the late, great Mike Kellie of The Only Ones played with The Distractions in Salford! 



As mentioned above, Mike Finney, Alex Sidebottom and the new live band of Joe, Chris and Johnny, have been playing around the country for the last few years, and are delighted to rebrand as New Distractions. The first new material from the band is a charity release in support of the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, Manchester. 

'Juliet' and 'Stacey' have been played live in the last year and are - to quote David Quantick from 2010 - "in the great Distractions tradition of songs about girls". In late 2019, New Distractions recorded these two tracks (and several more...) in the studio, and released them on 19th June 2020.

For the price of half a pint (£2) or more, you can also stream and download 'Juliet' and 'Stacey' in MP3, FLAC and high-res formats. A CD release is planned for later in 2020, but we hope you can support what is a great cause in these unprecedented times.


Sunday, June 7, 2020

Soul-strong - Mojo

Continuing our round-up of the terrific reviews that the Nobody's Perfect reissue received, here's the first of the music magazine reviews from Mojo. It's also the shortest, and least-effusive, albeit still quite positive. You can still pick up Nobody's Perfect 2CD and LPs from Occultation or Bandcamp (where the Occultation-administered 14-track download is also available). 


The Distractions

⭐⭐⭐

Nobody's Perfect

MAN IN THE MOON. CD/LP

A 48-track, 2-CD reissue of "lost" Manchester band's 1980 debut.

"The missing link between Freddie And The Dreamers and The Fall," suggests Manchester photographer Kevin Cummins in the sleevenotes. More the Dreamers... It now seems anomalous that single Time Goes By So Slow (featured here) was released by Factory Records. Early Elvis Costello was the closest post-punk counterpart, but The Distractions stuck even closer to tremulous rock 'n' roll verities. This is manifest on a cover of 1961 Eden Kane hit Boys Cry. Something For The Weekend, meanwhile, suggests both Del Shannon and the Springsteen of Hungry Heart. Bespectacled Mike Finney is an unlikely frontman - almost a real-life John Shuttleworth - but his soul-strong voice is impassioned, while songs like (Stuck In A) Fantasy sound like unknown 1960s standards. 

Roy Wilkinson


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Must-have reissue - Sunday Times

You can still pick up the Nobody's Perfect sets from Occultation, but if you're reading this, then you probably have already had them for a month or two! Continuing our round-up of reviews from the national press, this is the Sunday Times website review from 15th March 2020 in the On Record: Pop, Rock and Jazz section.




THE DISTRACTIONS

Nobody's Perfect

Man In The Moon


THE DISTRACTIONS
Nobody's Perfect 
Man In The Moon

After a brief flirtation with Factory records, the Manchester band The Distractions fell into the arms of Island Records' Nick Stewart, who would sign U2 to the label shortly afterwards. Only one of them went on to conquer the world, but The Distractions, whose debut album Nobody's Perfect celebrates its 40th birthday this year, were beloved by both fans and critics for music that, like that of many bands at the time, forged an edgy compromise between their pop past and punk's then insistent supremacy. Reissued on vinyl on Stewart's own label, with multiple fan-pleasing extras, the album is a reminder of one of the key moments of musical collision in British pop. DC

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Brilliant bittersweet pop - Daily Mail

The long-awaited Nobody's Perfect resissue is still available from Occultation and Bandcamp, as well as some online retailers, but it's selling fast, such has been the overwhelmingly positive response from fans and journalists alike. Here's the review that appeared on the ever-popular Daily Mail website and in its English and Scottish papers on Friday 27th March.






THE DISTRACTIONS: Nobody's Perfect (Man In The Moon)

MANCHESTER outfit The Distractions were contemporaries of Joy Divison and released the brilliant Time Goes By So Slow single in 1979. They also signed to Island at the same time as U2, but disbanded after their 1980 debut. The band recently re-formed and this 40th anniversary reissue - with new mixes - reiterates their bittersweet pop credentials.

⭐⭐⭐⭐




Sunday, April 19, 2020

This classic - Sunday Mirror

We hope you've enjoyed the Nobody's Perfect reissue (still available from Occultation and Bandcamp, and that you agree that it was worth the wait! Over the coming weeks we will be taking a look at some of the reviews that have been published in the music magazines and websites. But first, the newspaper reviews, and this from the Sunday Mirror (spot the mistake in the opening line!).


Re-release

The Distractions

Nobody's Perfect

This classic has been reissued, 20 years on. The post-punk New Wave band were label pals with Joy Division before they were signed to Island Records by Nick Stewart, who also discovered U2. He says: "Tony Wilson of Factory Records suggested I check out another local band who'd just recorded a single called Time Goes By So Slow. I loved it from the moment I heard it."



Friday, April 10, 2020

Because they were so good

The third and final part of the Barmcake magazine Distractions / Mike Finney article. Again, huge thanks to Dave at Barmcake for kind permission to re-publish this. Barmcake is essential reading, after all it's Northern entertainment for the middle-aged, but you don't have to be northern to enjoy it. If you can't find a FREE copy at your local stockist (when this madness is over), then you can also pick it, and back issues, up via their tumblr site: https://barmcakemag.tumblr.com


  

Were you mates with members of these bands? I believe Mark E Smith was a fan of your voice, comparing you to Roy Orbison?

Pete Shelley was very supportive, as was Mark Smith. Mark was kind enough to say that he thought the songs were non-original because they were so good, also saying to Mick Middles that I reminded him of the 'Big O'... can't get any better than that, surely?





Our big buddies in the Manc music scene were Buzzcocks (the line-up of Pete, Steve, John and Garth) and Ian, Bernard, Pete and Steve of Joy Division. 

We would meet at Cox's Bar at the back of the Free Trade Hall - a Boddington's pub that was relatively posh for Boddies pubs, and on to the Ranch Bar in Dale Street. JD were Stiff Kittens then. They were a very likeable bunch and privately, they could not have been further from their Joy Division stage persona... excellent senses of humour, which reverted to child-like as we got more pissed. 

This never changed, although I haven't seen Bernard and Pete for many years. They live in the Chorlton area and I live in Holmfirth - yes, I crossed the Pennines. A Manc who chooses to live in Yorkshire - that says a lot about my personality, I'm sure!

I understand that band weren't happy with the way Island recorded the first LP as they felt it didn't sound like you. Was that the main reason for you splitting up in 1981?


THE DISTRACTIONS. The classic line-up. Left to right: 
Alex Sidebottom, Adrian Wright, Steve Perrin, Pip Nicholls, Steve Perrin.  
Photo: Adrian Boot.


The album was a mix 'of its time', not what any of us wanted, so a compromise. The re-release that is being completed by Nick Stewart (the A&R man who signed us to Island) is being re-mixed to a more Distractions sound - removing many of the keyboards, a lot of effects, etc.

I still see Steve Perrin each year when he comes over from New Zealand, we have been friends since 1974 and that will not change.

The version of The Distractions doing the stuff now would have had Steve, if he was here, although he is no keener on playing live now as he was back then! 

The fall-out really was musical differences, along with me becoming more and more into 'socialising''; the whole thing pissing off Steve; Ade Wright leaving to become a student. Pip Nicholls, Alex and me carried on with Arthur Kadmon (ex-Ludus and The Fall) for a while, when it just fizzled out. 

I set up The Secret Seven, we recorded for Bronze Records, but not for long, then I joined the Art of Noise, again - not for long...


 


Did you regret leaving Factory for Island?

There are times that staying with Factory would have made artistic sense, but the whole Island thing was just so attractive - they just didn't know what to do with us. U2 signed the following day and always wanted to be rock stars in the conventional way, which was much easier. I don't blame them, I just don't share their passion for it. We wanted to break moulds, but we were not sure which moulds to break.

We were the first Factory band to play Hurrah Club, in New York so we got a lot of attention there; Warhol's team out in force; Lou Reed in the audience. That was a great moment, that and the great review in the NY Times.


For details about the re-release of Nobody's Perfect and new material, go to www.thedistractions.co.uk or Twitter @DistractionsMcr. The band play St Joseph's Hall, Leigh, on February 15, in aid of The Pete Shelley Memorial Campaign


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