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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, November 27, 2013

Manchester's favourite soul-pop outfit

Part one of Mick Middles' post-Perrin piece in September 1980's Sounds.



"I'M SORRY, but the landlord has told me not to serve you!"  I perfected my 'goldfish' expression before turning to the two Distractions with a look of exasperation and total disbelief.  "They won't serve us," I mouthed as Distractions' lead vocalist Mike Finney burst into laughter and pointed an accusing finger at the somewhat infantile new band member Arthur Kadmon.

"It's him, it's his fault," observed Finney rather cruelly, although I must admit I tended to agree.  Partly because Arthur naturally emits an aura of innocent stupidity and partly because of the large red earring that dangled from his left ear.  The Distractions, who recently have received letters from hotel managers complimenting the band on their good behaviour, are in danger of losing their nice boy image.

Twenty-four hours earlier, I'd met The Distractions in a grisly dark-oak ridden pub near their practice studios in Stockport.  They looked happy and with every right.  Only six weeks ago, following the release of their debut album, they suffered the loss of their main contributing songwriter and founder member, Steve Perrin.  This surprising departure caused many doubts in Manchester about the fate of the city's favourite soul-pop outfit.  Personally, in all respect to Steve Perrin, I wasn't over-concerned.  The band had hit a dull patch.  I found the album to be something of a disappointment and their live gigs were lacking in the bubbling charm that had made them such an exciting prospect.  Something had to change and, if their recent gig at Manchester UMIST is of any significance, Arthur Kadmon was a godsend.  I'd known him since his days spent in the sadly declining Ludus and, although his musical background seems ridiculously distant from the pop of The Distractions, a weird sense of belonging has already become apparent.  Mike Finney talked about their decision to introduce the, um, colourful Kadmon.

"We were just about to audition people when I chanced upon him in Stockport.  He agreed to come along for a trial and straight away we knew he was perfect.  He's writing songs as well, plus we've already started work on two of his old numbers, 'Nighttime' and 'Heaven Can Wait'".

Now, I'm familiar with both these songs, which are attractively meandering lightweight jazz injected tunes of a highly personal nature - hardly archetypal Distractions fodder.  However, after recently criticising the ban for displaying a lack of invention, I can see a neat half-way stage between the thick soul that is the band's norm and the thin coldness of the Kadmon material.  Finney sounds happy with the prospect.

"I think they suit us perfectly.  It's a much needed new direction certainly and the new two styles should blend together well."

Kadmon's acid test came when the band recently travelled to Southern Ireland for a short tour.  The gigs were, apparently, the best The Distractions have played for some time.  In Cork the band found themselves sharing the tiny town with Dexy's Midnight Runners...

[to be continued]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Parabolically Yours

As may now be coming clear, much work has been going on in the background regarding the eagerly-awaited Distractions retrospective.  Here, Neil Storey from Hidden Masters gives us the latest via this thread at the Steve Hoffman Music Forum:

Rumour and conjecture on The Distractions project has been fairly public for quite some while.  Here's what we can confirm right now.

The set – and it is a set, not just a reissue of 'Nobody's Perfect' – is now at a fairly advanced level of preparation.  Preparation...? Yep... we've been working on this for approximately two years now; 'cos to get 'em right takes time... a lot of time. 

Much of the analog / digital work is complete; although there is probably just another day, maybe two days worth of that still to do.  And, what remains are the live tape transfers.  Live tapes?  Oh yes... we've got desk tapes from places like The Venue and Dingwalls (in London); a show in Newcastle and others. 

A couple of things simply don't exist on analog reel(s).  They've either been lost, skipped or maybe even taped over.  Annoying, but hardly the first time this has occurred.  One example is the original reel that should contain the four tracks from 'You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That'.  The tape box exists and there is a 1/4" reel inside it, but what's on that reel doesn't correspond to... anything that it should.  There's just the one track on that reel and it isn't The Distractions.  Quite what happened (all those years back) is anyone's guess.  Perhaps one reel got substituted for another, who knows?  But, we do have a virgin vinyl copy and, if needs finally must, needs must.  We're still quite a ways away from mastering so, the missing reels may turn up in time... maybe. 

Oh... and IF anyone who comes by this page knows of where a copy of the one and only BBC session (three tracks / Autumn 1980) is, I really would like to know!  (It doesn't exist in the BBC archive and is presumed to have been taped over – grrrr). 

Anyhow, the artwork – as Mike Finney has confirmed elsewhere here – is now at an advanced stage.  And, yes the set will be titled 'Parabolically Yours'. 

The whole package will be contained in a 12" casebound hard-back volume and the inside booklet is currently running at 80 pages.  Substantial... yes!  Also, the first edition will also be strictly limited – 500 copies only, worldwide. 

Release date?  There is a strong possibility that we'll be starting the pre-order process on Pledge Music before [and just in time for] Christmas.  From which, my best guess right now is that we'll have finished copies probably May, or thereabouts, 2014.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A free hidden master

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed the widget (a technical term) above.  By simply signing up to the mailing list for The Distractions Hidden Masters project on Pledge Music, you'll be able to download a free mp3 of a previously unreleased track.  You won't be bombarded with emails, just occasionally kept informed of the progress of the project, whilst enjoying 'Something For The Weekend'.

If you so wish, the widget can be used freely elsewhere on your site or blog by using this link or the embedding code therein.  You'll see an option to get the widget once you've downloaded the track too.

Finally, if you aren't a member of The Distractions Facebook group, you might have missed that the curator of the project, Neil Storey, recently revealed the title of the book-set... Parabolically Yours.

The image adorning the widget and the front cover of the book-set (there's a sneak preview on the Facebook page) will be explained soon, for those of you who don't recognise it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hidden Masters & Pledge Music

By way of a taster, here's a reminder of who will be involved in making the soon-to-be-announced Distractions retrospective collection a reality:

Hidden Masters explained

HiddenMasters is a pioneering contemporary music archive service – established to serve an important but neglected market.  

Many artists who were popular 30 to 40 years ago have extensive musical legacies that have never been properly documented. Indeed, in many instances, only a small proportion of their recordings have ever been digitised.  

By combining specialist knowledge to exhaustive research and digital renovation, HiddenMasters facilitates the discovery of long-forgotten music within these artist’s catalogues that masters’ rights holders in many instances don’t even know exists.  

Further to which, by working exclusively with PledgeMusic’s direct-to-fan pre-order methodology, HiddenMasters are able to create limited run 1st Editions...

HiddenMasters ‘legacy sets’ are career defining, with exemplary design and packaging being standard.  

Following the release of HiddenMasters | The Jess Roden Anthology earlier in 2013, further limited run 1st Edition sets include – Gemma Hayes, The Distractions omnibus edition and a major Chris Wood career retrospective, among others in development.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Front ranks

This short but very complimentary review of The Distractions' debut LP, Nobody's Perfect, appeared in the somewhat unlikely location that is Vogue magazine.

The Beat are from Birmingham, and they share honours with Manchester's The Distractions for best debut album of the month.  Nobody's Perfect (Island ILPS 9604) is light but serious: frothy, melodic pop with a stimulating, bitter after-taste.  Vocalist Mike Finney has a deep, pained voice which provides an intriguing contrast with the sweetly psychedelicised backdrops concocted by the rest of the band and at least two of the songs, Waiting For Lorraine and Leave You To Dream, contain sufficient passion and ingenuity to catapult The Distractions into the front ranks of British pop.

(c) Vogue, 1980.

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