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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, August 31, 2010

Blog round-up

An early round-up from some independent blogs and websites that have already picked up the Black Velvet EP:


Unpopular's Coincidential Distractions, who gives us a taster of David Quantick's article in Scream City 5, which will form the basis of extensive sleevenotes in 2011's Nothing album:

"I thought they were the missing link between Freddie and The Dreamers and The Fall. They crafted perfect pop songs. Maybe they were ten years ahead of their time" - Kevin Cummins.


"I remember this as a demo in '95. Stands up well with the old stuff. Great lost band of Manc." - Mick Middles.

It was Cerysmatic's Scream City 5 fanzine that gave us a sneak preview of a new Distractions track (I Thought You Were Dead) Josephine on the limited edition CDR.


Rarebird's Distractions "Black Velvet" EP (2010), all the way from the US, who has written extensively on The Distractions before:

"Nobody’s Perfect... is one of rock’s long-lost treasures. It was technically a 'new wave' album which drew inspiration from three decades of music history before it, and had many moments of genuine emotional poignancy."

Theirs is a nice take on the EP:

"The six-minute title track and the five-minute “If You Were Mine” are quietly powerful pieces of melancholy pop, both written by guitarist Steve Perrin. The other track, “Still It Doesn’t Ring”, is a remake of a song from Nobody's Perfect. The song has matured into a touching adult-alternative work, with a more country-influenced flavor than the original. The EP makes for a cogent 15-minute listening experience."


Last but not least from Snappish Productions, From The Comments Part 2, whose description of Time Goes By So Slow is yet to be bettered:

"FAC 12: The Distractions / Time Goes By So Slow may be the greatest 7" single ever released by Factory... 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."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Come Home

Even though the Black Velvet EP is yet to have its official release (although those wise fans who pre-ordered will have their promos and MP3s this week), Occultation are busy preparing their next release from The Distractions. The updated 2009-2010 Occultultation Recordings catalogue confirms the Come Home EP YMIR7DA008 as a 12" vinyl release.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue Recording Studios, Blossom Street, Ancoats, Manchester.

We're still a couple of weeks off the official 13th September 2010 release date of the Black Velvet EP but those wise enough to order the promo CD with free mp3 or the digital download should have already had a sneak preview of this mid-1990s material. We've mentioned these sessions before, describing them as "the lost 1995 sessions". Well it may be that these tracks - Black Velvet, Still It Doesn't Ring, If You Were Mine, (I Thought You Were Dead) Josephine, Land of Opportunity, Good Girls Don't Get To Paris and Come Back To Me - were actually recorded in 1994, but that's by-the-by. What's interesting is where they were recorded.

Out of the Blue adverts.

Out of the Blue studios were a partnership between Nick Garside (bass and keyboards on the Black Velvet EP) and Adam Lesser. Nick concentrated on working with guitar bands from Manchester and Liverpool and Out of the Blue is regarded as the original "Madchester studios", although some Mancunian legends that won't take kindly to such a tag - the likes of The Fall and 808 State - also rehearsed and recorded there. Adam carved a niche for himself in dance music and was the drummer for a while in Cath Carroll's band, The Gay Animals. Perhaps the most famous band to use the studios were Oasis, exemplified by 2009's "Out of the Blue - The Oasis Photographs" collection:

"In a five year journey which began with a photo-shoot of an unknown band at Manchester's Out of the Blue studios in 1993, Michael Spencer Jones worked closely with Oasis to create a series of enduring images which adorned the bands' first three albums and their accompanying singles."

Out of the Blue Recording Studios, Blossom Street, Ancoats, Manchester.

Out of the Blue was in Ancoats, an area just north-east of the city centre which is recognised as the birthplace of the industrial revolution. It was in Ancoats where the towering cotton mills and warehouses were constructed with thousands of tiny terraced, back-to-back and cellar dwellings crammed between, housing the impoverished workers. If Ancoats was the engine that powered arguably the most important trading city in the world in the 18th century, then this engine had well and truly stalled and died by the time the Manchester punk scene emerged in the late 1970s. Factories had closed, streets and houses flattened, and communities dispersed. Amongst the debris, some warehouses and mills did survive, and in the 21st century are actually being restored and converted into flats and business premises. It was in one such decaying factory that Out of the Blue was housed on Blossom Street, and although the studio is no more, the building has been restored. A less likely candidate for restoration is the sadly derelict Edinburgh Castle pub, three doors down, where bands would often retire for liquid refreshment.

Former Out of the Blue, Blossom Street. (c) CDX at skyscrapercity.

Out of the Blue Recording Studios, Blossom Street, Ancoats, Manchester.

This advert below shows Out of the Blue promoted alongside a couple of other Manchester institutions that play a part in The Distractions' history - FAC 51, The Hacienda, and Band On The Wall on nearby Swan Street where they played several times. Pleasingly, like The Distractions, both these venues have had a rebirth of sorts, with Peter Hook's FAC251 club opening in the old Factory Records HQ on Princess Street, and Band On The Wall relaunching in 2009 as a charitable institution, remaining committed to local music.

Out of the Blue Recording Studios advert.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shipping forecast

Occultation Recordings have taken delivery of The Distractions' Black Velvet promo CDs. Advance orders will be shipping today (26 August) or tomorrow, so those good people that have already ordered should receive them very soon. Note the wonderful artwork, photographed by Mark Cooper and arranged by Andy Chambers. It is, of course, based on that killer line in The Distractions' most famous track... "I put your statue up in Albert Square..."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Now taking orders for Black Velvet

Click here to go to the Black Velvet preview page. Alternatively click here to purchase a promo CD of the EP (limited) or here to purchase the EP as MP3s files only - no need to do both, you'll get MP3s sent out immediately and free of charge if you buy the promo CD version.

In the mid-1990s, after a fifteen-year silence, there were fresh Distractions. Original vocalist Mike Finney and guitarist/principal songwriter Steve Perrin put together a new version of the band, playing a handful of gigs around North-Western England. They also entered the studio run by bass player Nick Garside in Manchester and, with Garside on bass and Bernard Van Den Berg on drums, recorded a series of songs, many of these had been written for the original incarnation of the band but never recorded.

The band did record one song that the original line-up HAD done, Still It Doesn't Ring, which appeared on the band's criminally lost debut LP Nobody's Perfect.

These recordings stand comparison with anything they did in their earlier days - in fact the lead track on this EP, Black Velvet, is rapidly becoming one of THE classic Distractions songs.

The third song on this EP, If You Were Mine, features a truly astonishing vocal performance from Mike.

Occultation will be releasing an EP of three songs recorded recently by yet another new Distractions line-up in a couple of months' time. More news on that to follow.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Black Velvet EP preview

All three tracks on the Black Velvet EP are now available for preview on the Occulatation Recordings site. Just click on the links to listen to Black Velvet, Still It Doesn't Ring and If You Were Mine. Also see the preview of label mates The Wild Swan's eagerly awaited comeback album, The Coldest Winter For A Hundred Years.

Details of how to order the limited edition promo CDs (which comes with free MP3s delivered immediately) and digital EP ahead of the official release date of 13 September 2010 will appear in the coming days. Until then, enjoy the previews of The Distractions' first record since 1981...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Promos being pressed

As you've probably guessed, the above photo isn't of the promos being pressed but rest assured that they are on their way any day now. The image is actually from the Occultation Recordings insert which accompanied the last release, The Granite Shore's Flood of fortune. The inserts were designed by Occultation's Elena Milego and the photo is taken from a 1947 issue of Penguin Music Magazine and an article which explained the record-making process. The reverse contains the catalogue to which can soon be added the new 12" single, Lost/Nicole/Oil Painting recorded in Liverpool in June 2010, and Nothing, the album due in 2011.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Something for the weekend

Full page advert for Something For The Weekend from Smash Hits 2nd of October 1980 issue. Thanks to Brian McCloskey at Like Punk Never Happened for this. Something For The Weekend was a post-Nobody's Perfect remix of the track which appeared on their (to date) one-and-only album. Produced by John Acock, mixed by The Distractions and Brandon Leon.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Boys Cry

Nobody's Perfect, Smash Hits 15th May 1980 p.30. (c) BrianDamage at flickr.

THE DISTRACTIONS: Boys Cry (Island). Hands up anybody who's really soft. Anyone whose eyes mist over watching old James Stewart movies, anyone who ever secretly read a truly soppy romantic novel, anyone whose heart turns to melted caramel when confronted by a juvenile animal?

Boy, do I got a record for you! An Eden Kame hit from 1964, all melancholy lyrics and tear jerking tune, handled with just the right proportion of vulnerable humour by the band that make The Buzzcocks sound like vicious bullies. Pass the Kleenex.
Esmé Sprigg

Another little review from Smash Hits thanks to the archiving by Brian McCloskey (see his Like Punk Never Happened blog here). Again, The Distractions are amongst good company, including [cough] Shakin' Stevens, the wonderful Comsat Angels, OMD and Squeeeze. The album page contains a good review for the Human League but a not so positive critique of Magazine's The Correct Use Of Soap.

Reviews, Smash Hits 15th May 1980 p.30. (c) BrianDamage at flickr.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Phases of the Moons

We are proud to announce the Distractions' first release for Occultation. YMIR7DA007 and YMIR7DA007CD, the Black Velvet EP, features three tracks recorded in the mid-1990s by a line-up comprising original singer Mike Finney and guitarist/songwriter Steve Perrin, together with bassist/producer Nick Garside and drummer Bernard van den Berg. More details to follow very soon on the Occultation news page.

The Occultation discography page also confirms track durations:

YMIR7DA007 - September 2010

THE DISTRACTIONS: Black Velvet digital EP

1: Black Velvet (6:01)

2: Still It Doesn't Ring (3:06)

3: If You Were Mine (5:13)

Primary format: digital download

Other formats: promo CD (YMIR7DA007CD)

Almost a quarter of an hour of Distraction can soon be yours to download and own later this month, so watch this space and The Distractions Facebook pages...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Enchanting and vaguely disturbing

Nobody's Perfect, Smash Hits 29th May 1980 p.30. (c) BrianDamage at flickr.

THE DISTRACTIONS: Nobody's Perfect (Island). Where to begin? Soft but sometimes angry, bristling with graceful touches but almost clumsy, naive but bitter, rooted as much in psychedelic bubblegum as in Mancunian new musik, this enchanting and vaguely disturbing collection of vulnerable pop could go straight over the head of the casual listener. Which would be a tragedy as this could well be the most attractive and hardest wearing debut album since The Pretenders. Get the picture? (8 out of 10).
David Hepworth

Nice Smash Hits review of Nobody's Perfect by David Hepworth (now at The Word and blogging here) thanks to the archiving of the old music mag by Brian McCloskey (see his blog here). Other albums from the issue included those from Devo, Jah Wobble, Joan Armatrading and Paul McCartney (Nobody's Perfect getting a better rating than these, obviously). Only The Beat's I Just Can't Stop It was rated higher.

Albums, Smash Hits 29th May 1980 p.30. (c) BrianDamage at flickr.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Coming this month

Official release is in September but Occultation will be taking orders for the MP3s and CD promos later this month...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Manchester's most unsung heroes

Further detail from Occultation news page, including confirmation of Occultation's first 12" release at the centre of the 'triptych of Distraction':

It is with enormous pleasure that Occultation Recordings would like to welcome Manchester's most unsung heroes, The Distractions. The band's first release for us will be the Black Velvet EP. This will be a digital download only but, as with other Occultation releases, we will be pressing a limited number of promo CDs and those of you who prefer to own a physical copy will have the chance to purchase these highly collectible items from us. The EP features three tracks recorded back in the mid 1990s by original core members Mike Finney (vocals) and Steve Perrin (guitar), with Nick Garside on bass and Bernard van den Berg (drums).

All tracks have been freshly restored, remixed and mastered by Nick Garside and sound simply stunning. Previews will appear on this website over the next few weeks and we'll start taking orders for the promo CDs once we have a definite date for their delivery. If that weren't enough - and frankly it's not - this EP will be followed by a new Distractions release, recorded in Liverpool in June 2010, again featuring Messrs Finney, Perrin and Garside, this time working with Nick Halliwell from fellow Occultation artists The Granite Shore, aided and abetted by Richard Turvey of The Wild Swans - who also engineered the session - on keyboards and drummer Stuart Mann. We hope to release this on 12" vinyl around early November. The final part of the initial triptych of Distraction will be an archive album entitled Nothing. Precise content is still being finalised but we plan to include the band's first two singles, including both sides of the classic Factory (FAC12) Time Goes By So Slow / Pillow Fight '45 plus more of the mid-1990s material.

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