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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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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Distractions Come Home

From Occultation news pages, confirmation that the 12" EP and CD promos will be available to order in about a month...

In early November Occultation Recordings will be releasing the first new Distractions recordings since the mid-1990s. YMIR7DA008, the Come Home 12" EP, was recorded in Liverpool in June 2010, engineered by Richard Turvey of The Wild Swans and featuring a band comprising original Distractions, vocalist Mike Finney and guitarist/main songwriter Steve Perrin, plus another former Distraction in the shape of Nick Garside, who played bass in the mid-1990s incarnation plus guitar and backing vocals contributed by Nick Halliwell from label-mates The Granite Shore, with Stuart Mann on drums. 

The EP comprises two new Steve Perrin songs, Lost and Nicole, plus long-time fan Halliwell's Oil Painting and will come on 12" vinyl in a UV gloss-varnished sleeve to the usual Occultation standards and, as with the current Black Velvet EP, it features photographs taken specially for this series of Distractions releases by Mark Cooper. More news and previews will follow over the next few weeks and then we'd hope to start taking orders shortly before the records arrive from the pressing plant, probably towards the end of October.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Come Home taster

Our first glimpse at the artwork for the forthcoming 12" vinyl release, The Distractions Come Home EP. Again, stunning images of Albert Square from Mark Cooper grace the sleeve, and it will be spot varnished as well, making Occultation's first 12" release an essential artefact as well as a superb record. Fresh from the Come Home page on the Occultation site...

In June 2010, after a second fifteen-year silence, there were still more fresh Distractions. Original guitarist/principal songwriter Steve Perrin flew into the UK from his home in New Zealand, vocalist Mike Finney travelled from across the Pennines and bass player Nick Garside from L.A. They convened in Liverpool, joined by Nick Halliwell, of Occultation label-mates The Granite Shore and drummer Stuart Mann. Another Occultation label-mate, Richard Turvey of The Wild Swans, engineered the session and also contributed piano and organ.

The Distractions, June 2010. Mike Finney, Steve Perrin, Nick Halliwell.

After meeting up on the first morning, with no rehearsals whatsoever, the band clicked instantly. By the end of that first day they'd recorded pretty much complete instrumental tracks to three songs (with Mike singing guide vocals), without even a click track getting in the way. These three songs now form The Distractions Come Home 12" EP, due for release on Occultation in November 2010.

The three songs are two previously unheard Perrin numbers, Lost and Nicole, plus Oil Painting, contributed by Halliwell, a long-time fan of the band.

More info and previews to follow soon...

All Gigs review

The Distractions on All Gigs. (c) www.allgigs.co.uk.

A terrific review of the Black Velvet EP from Paul Pledger at All Gigs:

Black Velvet - The Distractions

Single Review

In an age of '30th anniversary' tours, re-issues and Pope visits, the more weary of us seek solace in the arms of the bands we loved during our youth. Then I realise that all of the bands currently reforming and wheeling out old tunes, are indeed the bands I loved during MY youth - which makes me very old. Oh well! Ancient, then.

30 years ago (and a bit), The Distractions, a pop-band from Manchester with a melancholy cherry on top, released one of the best independent singles EVER with "Time Goes By So Slow", proving themselves to be the least-likely Factory band EVER - so they signed to Island instead, failed to grab any hits despite a handful of great singles and a decent album and split up. What a shame.

2010 sees tortured singer Mike Finney return with his charges, armed with more mirrorball-sadness and unrequited retro-romance. Hey, if it works for Richard Hawley, it should have worked for Finney and Perrin. And it still does, the three songs on "Black Velvet" are bathed in exquisite sadness, not least the six-minute title track. Straight out of the Tony Christie/ Frankie Laine songbook, it's a huskily intoned ballad that will perplex most lovers of X-Factor and Bring Me My Comb And I'll S**t On The Dog, or whatever the latest scream burp happens to be.

The remaining two songs are of a similar ball-park with perhaps "Still It Doesn't Ring" being the most expressive, if only for the title. Apparently a compilation CD is planned for 2011, with another new brace of songs due to be released on 12" in November. A welcome back for a worthy reunion.

Paul Pledger

In a nice twist of fate, Paul is pictured on the website with Factory stalwart and old friend of The Distractions, Peter Hook.

Peter Hook & Paul Pledger. (c) www.allgigs.co.uk.

The Black Velvet review is listed alongside The Charlatans' new single which is embedded in my head thanks to heavy rotation on BBC 6 Music. While The Charlatans are described as Madchester mainstays, The Distractions have been away but (to paraphrase David Quantick) they are back again, and Black Velvet is only the beginning.

The Charlatans & The Distractions reviews on All Gigs. (c) www.allgigs.co.uk.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Black Velvet sessions

The 1994 sessions at Out of the Blue studios in Ancoats led (some 16 years later) to not only the Black Velvet EP but also part of the forthcoming Nothing album. Thanks to Nick Garside here we get a glimpse of those sessions, with Steve Perrin, Mike Finney, Bernard Van Den Berg and Nick himself snapped in action, and later, relaxing.

Steve Perrin, The Distractions, Out of the Blue studio, Manchester, 1994.

Mike Finney, The Distractions, Out of the Blue studio, Manchester, 1994.

The Distractions, Out of the Blue studio, Manchester, 1994.

Bernard Van Den Berg & Steve Perrin, The Distractions, Out of the Blue studio, Manchester, 1994.

Nick Garside, The Distractions, Out of the Blue studio, Manchester, 1994.

Steve Perrin,
Out of the Blue studio, Manchester, 1994.

Mike Finney, Out of the Blue studio, Manchester, 1994.

Nick Garside, Out of the Blue studio, Manchester, 1994.

Bernard Van Den Berg, Out of the Blue studio, Manchester, 1994.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


With The Distractions releases coming thick and fast now - Josephine on Scream City 5, the Black Velvet EP and the eagerly awaited Come Home EP - there's just time to take stock before Occultation blow us away with the Nothing compilation early next year.

With the help of rateyourmusic.com here is something approaching a definitive list of compilations featuring The Distractions:

2010 - Scream City 5 - 8. (I Thought You Were Dead) Josephine.

2009 - Factory Records: Communications 1978-92 (Rhino) - 6. Time Goes By So Slow.

2009 - Factory Records: Communications 1978-92 (Warner) - 6. Time Goes By So Slow.

2006 - North by North West - 10. Time Goes By So Slow.

2006 - North by North West [3CD] - 10. Time Goes By So Slow.

2005 - White Dopes On Punk - 7. It Doesn't Bother Me.

2003 - Shake Some Action, Vol.1: UK - 3. It Doesn’t Bother Me.

2003 - Shake Some Action, Vol. 3: UK & Ireland - 4. Something For The Weekend.

1996 - Rabid/TJM Punk Singles Collection - 14. It Doesn’t Bother Me.

1993 - Starry Eyes - U.K. Pop II (1978-79) - 15. Time Goes By So Slow.

1991 - Palatine: The Factory Story / 1979-1990 [CD] - Disc 3, 3. Time Goes By So Slow.

1991 - Palatine: The Factory Story / 1979-1990 [LP] - LP 3, 3. Time Goes By So Slow.

1980 - Island Sampler 1 - 1. Boys Cry.

1980 - Island Sampler 2 - 4. Boys Cry & 5. Waiting For Lorraine.

Year unknown - Seeds 1: Pop compilation LP Cherry Red Records (BRED74). #. Time Goes By So Slow.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Blog round-up - Modisti / Vital Weekly

Another missive from the mainland, this time from Madrid and the online Modisti magazine. This glowing review appears in the Vital Weekly 746 list:


True, we don’t review MP3 only releases, but the promo for this comes pressed on a real CD, so who knows: if you ask maybe you can buy one too. Now The Distractions should not belong in Vital Weekly. The three pieces show the come-back of a band that did a great 7″ on Factory Records in 1979 – and that’s perhaps the reason why I am reviewing this. For my birthday last month I bought James Nice’s new book on Factory Records, which sits nicely among all the other books I have on this subject. The Distractions were the anti-thesis of Joy Division – post punk versus pop, although both bands played together. But The Distractions left Factory for Island Records and imploded shortly after that. Now there are back, and Occultation will release a compilation of all the old material and new songs recorded this year. As a teaser the label releases these three tracks from a mid 90s recording session. Three melancholic songs. Rock music with a burning passion. Mike Finney’s voice is still great.

‘Black Velvet’ is a blues like song, while ‘Still It Doesn’t Ring’ is a catchy as hell pop song, while ‘If You Were Mine’ is again a heartbreaking blues piece. Nothing for Vital Weekly, but the more I play this, the more I like it. Absolute great popmusic. (FdW)

Address: http://www.occultation.co.uk.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blog round-up - Your Heart Out

Your Heart Out features the biggest and, dare we say it, best piece yet on The Distractions' comeback EP, entitled Stumbling in the Rain.... It's so good that it deserves repeating here:

"OH GOD, I must be getting old. I approached this with such scepticism!..." I love being wrong. I was always going to have a soft spot for a new release by The Distractions on the excellent Occultation label, out of affection and brand loyalty. I just didn’t expect that when I got around to playing Black Velvet it would stop me in my tracks. There have, after all, been so many phoenixes rising from the ashes that it’s hard to keep up.

In the late 1970s The Distractions released a single called Time Goes By So Slow, which was 200 seconds of pop in excelsis, featuring glorious melodic hooks and one of the finest grrritty blue-eyed soul performances since the days of the Love Affair. It still sounds superb, and rates as one of the finest 45s released by Factory Records. It is also one of the least typical singles issued by the label. I have always argued it had the advantage of gaining attention because of its Factory links, while at the same time and for the same reason not really being appreciated for its mod perfection.

The Distractions regrouped in the mid-'90s and recorded some demos. It is from these sessions that the Black Velvet set is drawn. There have been some pretty miserable returns to the pop fray, but The Distractions’ is strikingly impressive. The lead track, Black Velvet, is 360 seconds of dramatic pop perfection that you might dream of Willie Nelson or Robbie Williams singing (depending on your musical proclivities). Mike Finney is in remarkably good voice, and Steve Perrin’s songwriting is as perfectly formed as ever. Nick Garside is responsible for the production, which will please those of us who consider Hymn From A Village to be another contender for Factory’s finest moment.

I suppose playing thought association it’s not a great leap from Black Velvet to Blue Velvet, and the Bobby Vinton song. There is something of that feel about The Distractions at their melodramatic best - that sort of post-Johnny Ray ‘wringing the emotion out of every note’ school of pop. I always thought The Distractions should only have been allowed to perform ballads. I actually rather liked the idea of them covering Eden Kane’s Boys Cry. There was something appealing about that song having been originally a little out of time. Or was it? After all, Gene Pitney, PJ Proby and Chris Farlowe were looming on the horizon when it appeared, and their vocals were never knowingly understated.

The Distractions were fortunate to be associated with Manchester at a time when it was unexpectedly in the spotlight. But ostensibly The Distractions never seemed to have too much in common with, say, Joy Division, Magazine, The Fall. It could be argued they were much more in the true mcr pop tradition of The Hollies, Bee Gees, Herman’s Hermits, Mindbenders, and 10CC. There are many among us who would place Graham Gouldman up there as the true icon of mcr music. Ironically there is many a link between Gouldman and the post-punk mcr, from Strawberry Studios to Dave Formula, who had been in the mcr mod outfit St Louis Union which recorded Graham’s Behind The Door.

30 years ago The Distractions released a delayed debut LP, Nobody’s Perfect, on Island Records, produced by Virginia Astley’s brother. Although it has bewilderingly remained out of circulation, it was enthusiastically received at the time. Local writer Paul Morley was particularly keen, as was Sounds’ Dave McCullough who said: “Still. I want to hear this on my radio. I want to play this all summer long.” It’s from Dave’s review that the opening line here was borrowed. He finished his piece by threatening: “Don't DARE miss it! Don't you dare pass it over.” It applies to Black Velvet too.

Your Heart Out is actually the next artist to join Occultation Recordings, with the intriguingly ambiguous "Buried Hidden Treasures (MIMAS7DA0009) - 1. Imants Kalnins, 2. Tuca [more to follow]" to be released in November as listed on the Occultation Discography. More on that later...

Blog round-up - Throw Me Away

First up a mention in the influential Swedish fanzine, Throw Me Away:

The Distractions – Black Velvet (EP)

De gav ut en enda singel på Factory och ett litet bortglömt album på Island Records. Nick Halliwell fortsätter sin musikaliska mission att återskapa det alternativa 1980-tal där rosor, svarta strumpeband och förmågan att förneka sina egna hjärtslag är lika oersättliga delar av musikhistorien som någonsin Sarah Records.

They released one single on Factory and a small forgotten album on Island Records. Nick Halliwell continues his musical mission to restore the alternative 1980s where roses, black socks [?!] and the ability to deny their own heartbeat is as irreplaceable a part of music history as Sarah Records.

Read more about the legendary Sarah Records here.

And don't forget to check out the previous articles on Throw Me Away featuring Paul Simpson of The Wild Swans and a piece on the Occultation Recordings label itself.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The man from Island

An interesting footnote to the history of both Joy Division and The Distractions is revealed in the Notes and Sources to James Nice's Shadowplayers: The Rise & Fall of Factory Records. Imagine the different trajectories the two bands' careers might have taken if Joy Division had gone to Island Records and The Distractions remained on Factory...


"Nick Stewart joined Island in September 1979 and immediately went to Manchester to meet Factory Records' directors, Tony Wilson, Alan Erasmus and Rob Gretton, with a view to signing Joy Division. Finding Joy Division unavailable, he accepted the directors’ advice and signed The Distractions instead (Nick Stewart author interview, November 2009)."

(c) James Nice, 2010.


In the book itself is the following passage:

"Grace Jones’s cover of She’s Lost Control appeared on the b-side of Private Life in August 1980. The song was selected by Nick Stewart, along with Private Life and Love Is The Drug.

Interviewed for NME (18 October 1986) by Dave Haslam, Bernard Sumner recalled: ‘Grace Jones wanted to do She’s Lost Control for Island and she wanted to change it to “I’ve Lost Control” and we thought about it and decided we can’t just let her do that. And one night we met a man from Island in a club in Soho and he knew how we felt. He gave us £12; it was like he was just saying, “Go and buy yourselves a drink, lads.”’ The ‘man from Island’ was Nick Stewart (aka The Captain), who had already signed The Distractions to the label."

(c) James Nice, 2010.


Island Records.

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