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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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Thursday, April 26, 2012

The End Of The Pier

News from Occultation

26th April 2012

The Wild Swans rushed into their new album after a mere 20-odd years but The Distractions wouldn't be hurried so their new album, The End Of The Pier will come 32 years after the beloved Nobody's Perfect. Full retail release on 180g vinyl and CD is due late August although copies should be available from Occultation well before then.

We'd also like to welcome the June Brides whose first Occultation single, released jointly with Slumberland in the US, will be a double 'a' side, A January Moon / Cloud. There'll be a special 7"+CD package available exclusively from the Occultation website and the CD will feature not just the two tracks from the vinyl edition but rare and unreleased material from Mr Wilson and company. Out in June, obviously. A new Factory Star EP is due in the summer as well.

The Distractions, Factory Star and The June Brides will be playing special Occultation events together, the first confirmed date is 31st Augusts at the King's Arms, Salford, Manchester, though we're hoping to have a London date the following night. More on this, including details of where to buy tickets, soon.

Other Occultation news...

Opposite Sex

Listeners to Marc Riley's BBC6Music programme will already be aware of the charms of Opposite Sex, the Dunedin-based trio who've made one of the most talked-about albums of recent months. Occultation Recordings just happen to be good friends with Fishrider Records, the New Zealand label responsible so, in a touching "hands-across-the-ocean" way, we've teamed up for a joint UK edition of the album out next week, thus making this post-punk-pop (enough Ps?) gem easily available in the Northern Hemisphere, though those of you closer to NZ should visit Fishrider. Click here to order the 180g LP, which comes with a CD thrown in for just £12, from the Occultation Shop, copies are now in stock. The CD is also available separately here.

If you've yet to be seduced there's a video here and more information can be found by clicking on the album sleeve above. We also have a few copies of another Fishrider release, the new album by Kiwi legends The Puddle, Secret Holiday/Victory Blues, also available here and we expect to be stocking the Shifting Sands album also just out on Fishrider very shortly. Selected Occultation releases will also be available from Fishrider over the coming weeks and months, which may be cheaper for some of you.


Saturday, April 21, 2012


(c) 6Music.

The Distractions were featured on Thursday's Radliffe and Maconie Show on 6Music when they were joined by David Quantick.  Time Goes By So Slow was played after the group's story was told, from TJM's You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That, to FAC12 and Island's Nobody's Perfect (not forgetting the U2 story).  Mark Radcliffe reckoned this show was the first on 6Music to play The Distractions, and Stuart Maconie discussed the forthcoming gig at Paul Heaton's Kings Arms in Salford on 31st August.  The new album, The End of the Pier, was announced before the listeners were treated to the finest Factory 7" record.  Listen to the whole show here for a limited period (The Distractions are on from about 1:55:25):  http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b01g9dbh.

(c) 6Music.


Friday, April 20, 2012

The Distractions live in 2012

The news that we've been looking forward to announcing for some time:  

The Distractions really will be playing live again for the first time since the mid-1990s.  In a very special Occultation evening, the original Distractions, Mike Finney and Steve Perrin will be on stage, joined by new recruits, as well as label mates, Factory Star and the June Brides.

The venue: 

The Kings Arms, Bloom Street, Salford.  Only a couple of hundred yards from Deansgate in Central Manchester, this is a fine old pub, now run by former Housemartin and Beautiful Southerner, Paul Heaton, with a fabulous venue above.

The date: 

Friday 31st August 2012.  A second date in London on Saturday 1st September is also planned.  Ticket details for both gigs will be announced soon. 

Kings Arms, Bloom Street, Salford. Upstairs venue (1951).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Eighties

The last part of Pete Frame's take on the Manchester scene, this time it's the early '80s and The Distractions appear...

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A former cotton warehouse in Little Peter Street was converted into TJ's rehearsal studios, used by every local band from The Frantic Elevators to Joy Division to The Inadequates (with Gillian Gilbert) to The Buzzcocks.  TJM was a spin-off indie label offering The Distractions, V2, Victim and The Frantic Elevators.

In the Eighties came The Mothmen, The Distractions, A Certain Ratio, Occult Chemistry [prophetic], Crispy Ambulance, The Freshies, The Smirks, The Blue Orchids [formed by Factory Star's Martin Bramah], Any Trouble, Quando Quango (featuring Mike Pickering, later of M People), Flag of Convenience (Buzzcocks spin-off), The Inca Babies, Simply Red, James and two thirds of Swing Out Sister.

Late Eighties groups included King of the Slums, The Sun And The Moon, Turning Blue, The Waltones, The Happy Mondays, Stockholm Monsters, The High. A Man Called Gerald, Lavolta Lakota, Baby Ford, Northside (from Blackley), Easterhouse (who perversely named themselves after a council estate in Glasgow!), 808 State, Yargo, Electronic and The Stone Roses.  

The Gallery in Peter Street (where R.E.M. played in November '84) and the Portland Bar (under the Piccadilly Hotel) were the places to play.

The city's first warehouse rave was a Stone Roses gig in a British Railways arch in Fairfield Street, behind Piccadilly Station in July '85.

(c) Pete Frame's Rockin' Around Britain, Pete Frame (1999)


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ripe for reissue

Eight years ago, Dan Selzer (of Acute Records) and pals discuss The Distractions' one and only album to date at ilxor:

The Distractions - Nobody's Perfect

After a Buzzcocks does power-pop EP on Manchester's leading punk label, and a beatiful done in every possible way single on Factory Records, The Distractions signed to Island and delivered an album that may not completely match the peaks of those first two releases, is still one of the great post-punk/power-pop/just plain old rock and roll records that time has forgotten.  The Distractions sang '60s girl group worthy melodies and played party garage rock worthy rhythms with a New Wave slant, while just about every single song is about a girl.  The Trouser Press said:

Decades from now, rock historians will scratch their heads in bewilderment that the Distractions' fine body of work didn't ensure the Manchester quintet a longer lifespan.  The 1979 EP (which contains rougher versions of two songs that would later turn up on Nobody's Perfect, plus a live pair — "Too Young" and "Maybe It's Love" — unavailable elsewhere) hints that the group was working from an abnormally broad palette, a sense confirmed by its one fine album.

A lot of records belong to a specific time, but Nobody's Perfect continues to measure up as an ace slab of educated pop rock, right in tune with the ground rules laid down by Blondie, Squeeze and others of that ilk.  Part of the problem may be that Nobody's Perfect is too weighty to be passed off as a simple diversion.  The band's eclecticism draws on everything from Chuck Berry to Phil Spector to psychedelia — often within the same song — and the vocals tend to be more somber than carefree.  "Boys Cry" comes on like a Ronettes tune but delivers none of the upbeat emotional release seasoned pop listeners are trained to expect.  Regardless, Nobody's Perfect very nearly is.
[David Sprague/Jon Young]

And while this record is long-ripe for reissue, with the members of the band fully supporting such a project, the rights are lost somewhere in Island/Universal red tape.  Anyone with any leads or connections at Island or Universal...?

I think (the album) appeals to people who've spent equal amounts of time with Singles Going Steady as the Phil Spector Back to Mono box set.  If that sounds great to you but you don't feel The Distractions, we'll just have to agree to disagree.  However, I'd also ask if you've spent good time with the Factory single.  The LP production isn't nearly as interesting.

God, The Distractions at the Rock Garden, Spring 1980... sigh.  "It Doesn't Bother Me" was a severely underrated single, I thought. I *lived* that record. *LIVED* it, I tell you!


Monday, April 9, 2012

Rafters, Ranch, the Hacienda

More on the Manchester scene of the late '70s, early '80s, as The Distractions emerged...

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Next to open was Rafters in the cellar of 65 Oxford Road.  Magazine made their debut here in October '77.  At an audition here in Spring '78, Joy Division failed to impress Stiff execs, but they did impress Factory boss Tony Wilson (who signed them) and club DJ Rob Gretton (who became their manager).  Mick Hucknall's Frantic Elevators made their debut at Rafters in June '78, supporting Sham 69.

In late '77, Morrissey (Smiths) and Billy Duffy (Cult) made their public debut as the Ritz in Whitworth Street, when they were both in The Nosebleeds.  The Smiths made their debut at the same venue in October '82 (supporting London poseurs Blue Rondo A La Turk).

A popular late Seventies watering hole was the Ranch, a gay bar often "littered with Bowie casualties" in Little Lever Street.  The Buzzcocks played an early gig there.

First local label of note was Rabid in '77 by flyposter king Tosh Ryan.  Operating from 20 Cotton Lane in Withington, it released early singles by Slaughter & The Dogs, The Nosebleeds, Jilted John and John Cooper Clarke.

Most stylish and successful local label was Factory, started by Tony Wilson in late '78, with premises at 86 Palatine Road.  Its roster was breathtaking - from the earliest days of A Certain Ratio, The Distractions and Joy Division to the latter days of New Order and The Happy Mondays.  Expansion saw them setting up the Dry Bar in Oldham Street and moving into new, expensively refurbished offices in Charles Street.  Sadly, an insoluble cash crisis developed in late '92 and the greatest provincial label in Britain went tits up.

New Order made their d├ębut as a trio at the Beach Club (a Wednesday night takeover at Oozit's Club in Shudehill) in July '80.

The Hacienda club (operated by Factory records and New Order and given the Factory catalogue number FAC 51) was a self-styled post-industrial fantasy venue, opening in May '82, at 11-13 Whitworth Street West.  The Stone Roses first played there in August '85.  The Happy Mondays came last in the Battle of the Bands contest in late '84.  For years it lost money - subsidised by Factory and New Order - but in the late Eighties, the Hacienda became the womb of acid house, the hub of rave culture, the hippest venue in Britain (Ecstasy had more influence that acid ever had).  Gangster infiltration and drug-war violence caused January to May '91 shit-down - but it reopened and thrived until January '97 closure.

Richard Boon's Buzzcocks management company New Hormones operated from 50 Newton Street.  The New Hormones record label roster included The Decorators, Ludus, The Diagram Brothers and the Tiller Boys.  The Buzzcocks recorded their Spiral Scratch EP at Indigo Studios in Gartside Street, with Martin Hannett producing, in December '76.

(c) Pete Frame's Rockin' Around Britain, Pete Frame (1999)


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