YNGODLTbutton TGBSSbutton DBMbutton BCbutton NP2button SFTWbutton ATTbutton






Sign up for news




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.

Click here to sign up for occasional newsletters


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mancunian pop classicists

He's the second half of Dave Hammond's blog at Oh Mercy! Records on how he ended up presenting Smelly Flowerpot Show on Cambridge 105:

So, to that decision by Island Records. The music industry was having a bad time of it in the early '80s, pretty much like the rest of the country in those Thatcher led years. Many bands were being dropped by labels as they sought to streamline and cut costs. Island were a very successful label, but were no different to the rest on that score. One of the many decisions they had to make allegedly involved dropping either the skinny Irish rockers, or the Mancunian pop classicists. As most of the world’s population will know, U2 won out and The Distractions were dropped, just a few months after their critically acclaimed debut was released. One half of the rest of the story is history, the other half barely made a foot note in a little read fanzine.

U2 went on to conquer the world, but what happened to The Distractions? Well, disillusioned with the whole situation they eventually split up without any further releases under that name. Any attempts at world domination for them would have to come in an altogether different way- singer Mike Finney taking on a Customs job in Hull, guitarist and writer Stephen Perrin moving first to Italy and more recently to New Zealand and Australia. Less was known about other band members, though bassist Pip Nicholls still plays in the north west and drummer Alec Sidebottom plays big band samba music.

Then, about four years ago, I decided to start a page on Facebook for The Distractions. In the intervening 20 odd years I’d heard nothing more about them, hadn’t even come across anyone else who had heard of them. I guess I just wasn’t mixing in the right circles. I just wanted to see if there were any other fans out there. That set things rolling.

First there was a steady stream of people liking the page. Then there was a conversation with a work colleague who had, amazingly, heard of the band. And what’s more, he’d heard some of the band were thinking of getting back together again. Then came an email from one Nick Halliwell, owner of a fledgling label called Occultation Recordings and leading light of a band called The Granite Shore. He’d seen the page and wanted to get in touch to say, yes indeed Mike Finney and Stephen Perrin were communicating with each other from opposite sides of the world and were making tentative plans to record again. Incredible stuff to me, still smitten with those glorious songs they’d recorded nearly three decades earlier.

To cut to the chase, they released a couple of EPs and followed it up with a second LP fully thirty two years after the first. They even convened, with a little help from some friends, to play a magical gig in Manchester in 2012. I’ve never seen so many middle aged men with moist eyes! Further to this, a gentleman by the name of Neil Storey also announced that he was working with the band to pull together an archive of all the material recorded by the band in the '70s and early '80s with a view to a first ever CD release for these wonderful, timeless songs. This is due for release on HiddenMasters later this year, with the possibility of a third LP a mere two years after the second. These boys know how to work.

So what’s all this got to do with me being here now, typing excitedly with two fingers ? Well, the work colleague who told me about the band getting back together, realising we had an overlap in musical taste, invited me on his radio show on a local Community Radio Station. Things went so well, I was invited back to present my own show, which I now present fortnightly on Cambridge 105. The show is all about new and unsigned music, with the odd classic from off the beaten track thrown in. And that’s how I came across Oh Mercy and the merry band of musicians on the label. It’s how I eventually came to write a blog for their website.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little tale. If you’ve got this far I guess you have. Give yourself a big pat on the back and ask me for a drink if you see me. I can’t promise I’ll get you one, but I’ll be mighty impressed with you. 

And the moral of this tale? Not sure there’s a moral, but there’s certainly something magical at times about the twists and turns in life, especially when it comes to music. I’ve experienced plenty of them, especially over the last couple of years on Cambridge 105. Here’s hoping we can all share a little of the magic of music together in the coming months and years.

8th March 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive


sign up for distracting news

YNGODLTbutton TGBSSbutton DBMbutton BCbutton NP2button SFTWbutton ATTbutton