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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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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Almost Perfect

The following is a transcription of the terrific Rewind article from the esteemed David Quantick in NME's 12 December 1987 issue. I especially love the "...greatest sleepwalking nightmare ballad ever, the mad-eyed and empty Looking For A Ghost..." line, as this song was the catalyst that led to creation of this website.


Nobody's Perfect (Island)

The Distractions: Alec Sidebottom, Adrian Wright, Mike Finney, Arthur Kadmon (Steve Perrin had left the group), Pip Nicholls. (c) Daniel Meadows. From Cerysmatic Factory blog.

THEIR FIRST record was a raging EP called You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That. Their second was a lorn and lonely single on Factory called Time Goes By So Slow. And their third was this LP, Nobody's Perfect, a record that pointed the way for pop this decade (it was released in 1980) and was duly ignored by everyone except a few fans and a few critics. That's what I reckon anyway.

The Distractions were an odd group. They had a proper guitarist called Steve Perrin, a man who wrote melancholy tunes with flaky, angular guitar parts, a bassist called Pip Nicholls, who wasn't wild about being called a girl, and a singer called Mike Finney who looked like a bookie's clerk and sang like R. Dean Taylor or some other blue-eyed soul god. The music they made had its closest cousins later in the final Undertones LPs and bits of the Housemartins, but no-one could really compare with Finney's surprised and ironic tunes. There's a line in Time Goes By So Slow which is amazing: "They put your statue up in Albert Square/All the people passing by just stare/But Albert just won't do/I don't need him but you" - this piece of pre-Morrissey hardcore whimsy being sung by Finney like a revelation torn from the heart.

Nobody's Perfect was The Distractions' chance to expand on their nascent genius and by golly, they did. From the bitter guitar whirlpool of Waiting For Lorraine (allegedly written by Perrin because all his girlfriends kept coming out) to the Spectoresque anorak grandad of Boys Cry, from the delicate echoing balladry of Still It Doesn't Ring and Leave You To Dream to the joyful nihilism of Valerie and the greatest sleepwalking nightmare ballad ever, the mad-eyed and empty Looking For A Ghost, The Distractions pulled every pop stop out and made a quietly glorious record. It was modern, yet it harked back through pop history; it was melancholy and yet it was daft; all the good pop stuff. The bad irony was that it was great and it didn't sell. No single hits, no LP hits. Island gave them a couple of singles more and dropped them. Various Distractions left, a lovely EP (24 Hours) was done for Rough Trade, and that was it, except for Mike Finney's short-lived Secret Seven.

The Distractions used the past rather than got eaten by it, and how they offered a mainstream pop that didn't ditch originality. Just for that, and for a generation stuck in a world of would-be naifs, revivalists and fools without imagination, we should all have Nobody's Perfect.

David Quantick

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