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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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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Albert Just Won't Do

Today, Peter Hook was on the radio talking to Steve Lamacq about the re-opening of Factory HQ this month as a new indie rock & roll club, FAC251. Let's hope FAC12 gets a spin in there soon. If New Order's drummer had his way I bet it it would - last year Stephen Morris selected Time Goes By So Slow for his Factory Records mixtape, describing a "great pop band, this track sounds like something straight off Nuggets or some other 60s psych collection. Mike Finney was a kind of Martin Fry [style] spangly frontman and they had a girl bass player [1]."
Time Goes By So Slow features on Palatine: The Factory Story Vol 3, 1979-1989, The Beat Groups, and in this review, it is claimed that "Tony Wilson held out high hopes of this... simply marvellous pop song... being Factory's commercial breakthrough prior to Joy Division." The Music Fix says in its review of North by North West: Liverpool and Manchester from Punk to Post-Punk & Beyond 1976-1984, "(although) the Manc material is more austere, Time Goes By Slow is a slice of pure Merseybeat if there ever was one." The most recent compilation that the track features on is Factory Records: Communications 1978-1992, a review of which highlights "The Distractions' pitch-perfect pop-punk 'Time Goes By So Slow'". It also features on a few more obscure but excellent compilations such as Starry Eyes: UK Pop II (1978-1979), The Factory Years 1979/1990, Seeds I: Pop and Different Colours, Different Shades. However, the excellent B-side, Pillow Fight, which was reportedly lined up to be the original A-side, has never seen the light of day away from FAC12 pressings...
This piece does more justice to Time Goes By So Slow than any of the above:
"One day, some mad soul is going to write a complete history of Factory Records and they will discover all sorts of wonderful bands that weren't New Order or Joy Division. Forgotten names such as Section 25, Minny Pops, Stockholm Monsters, and Crispy Ambulance (yes, really). And hopefully, the author will have a soft spot for FAC 12.
"As ever, a Peter Saville cover is a hallmark of quality. FAC 12: The Distractions / Time Goes By So Slow may be the greatest 7" single ever released by Factory (Blue Monday was 12" remember, and the 7" of Temptation is a pale shadow of the glory of the full length version). The Distractions were rather out of place in late-70s Manchester; bands borrowing from decades of pop weren't all that welcome in a post-punk world. Joy Division, however, loved them, and The Distractions often found themselves playing support for Factory's biggest band. They provided a contrast to JD's intensity; although their lyrics were no less melancholy, the OMD-like synths and perky guitars gave their songs an upbeat new-wave feel.
Time Goes By So Slow is a tale of lost love touring around the centre of Manchester. And it contains one of the greatest lines in Factory pop: "But Albert just won't do / I don't need him but you". Oh, and how the guitars drop out at 2:00, leaving the song wallowing in lonely synths and the saddest drumbeat you've ever heard, right before the final repeat of the chorus. It's just fantastic."
Albert Square, Manchester, 1956. In the foreground is a statue of John Bright, radical and liberal, one of the greatest orators of his generation. In the background stands Prince Albert himself in the Albert Memorial. Oil painting by Steven Scholes.

Arguably the best, certainly the best-known Distractions song, Time Goes By So Slow, written by Adrian Wright, contains the verse:

I put your statue up in Albert Square
And all the people passing by just stare
But Albert just won't do
I don't need him but you
And I'll drive past on a Saturday
And look into your face
Though nothing lies behind the mask
At least there'll be a trace
Just like my own
Your face has turned to stone
- Adrian Wright

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