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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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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sweet smiles and soggy vests

Another gig review from the vaults of the City Fun Exhibition courtesy of the Manchester District Music Archive. This one sees The Distractions travel along the A6 to Buxton to play two shows for a bunch of hairy cavers...

The Distractions at Buxton

Buxton, 30 miles from Manchester, i.e. one hour on the train. At the Ashwood Park Hotel The Distractions are billed to play two sets. I walk in during the first set and am amazed at the apathy on show. About a score of bearded faces staring out of the gloom over jars of flat beer. Not so much as a tapping foot in sight; which is a great pity because tonight The Distractions are ON FORM. Raunchy, incisive slices of pure exuberant NOISE. The sound is excellent, a perfect showcase for the twin guitars of Adrian and Perrin, duelling with alternatively diamond hard/downy soft waves of guitar lines and power chords. The dullers flank a sweating, whirling figure of perfectly coordinated limbs known to his friends as Alec, a skin thrasher of long standing (remember the Purple Gang?). Looking fairly out of it as always, a diminutive Bowieesque figure lurches around within her two square feet of the arena, pumping away on a bass that looks as though the Collosus of Rhodes would have found it reasonable size. Mike ("I collect wild flowers in a stamp album") Finney fronts the motley collection with showmanship approaching that of a ringmaster. Not that he actually MOVES much. He "emotes", using slight but appropriate gestures. I don't worry, there is no preconceived idea of "jumping about is last years thing, maaan". Anyway, no Iggy imitators here. Oh year, an excellent, throaty voice is heard, almost seen, leaping out of the speakers.

The reaction doesn't really matter anyway, as this is just a warm up set, most of the potential audience busy pissing it up in the plastic 'n' chrome bar outside the hall (well, room actually).

An hour of fairly good music later, the place is full to reasonable capacity and LIGHTS, ACTION, NOISE. The Distractions explode into action, whipping out one of their many self-penned rock/pop choons. This time there's no so much as a stationary foot in sight, although people are not exactly throwing themselves about at the moment. After three or four numbers (including The Small Faces' classic 'Wotcha Gonna Do About It?') a good selection of hairy people are having what appear to be epileptic fits in front of the band (this is cavers club meeting, remember, The Distractions are eclectic, they aren't into the band as audience syndrome, i.e. "Aw shit man, we're not playing to these wankers!").

By the first chords of 'Still It Doesn't Ring', a love sick/teenage break-up song that you wish you had written, the audience resemble a school of dolphins (all wet and jumping up and down).

The last song of the set 'Valerie' (introduced as a bad song called 'Jennifer' by the well known will and blade Steve Perrin) they're literally falling over and getting up again as one. Of course, encores, first a quirky, powerful reading of 'Waiting For My Man' and 'The Shrug', The Distractions contribution to popular dance music.

Sweet smiles and soggy vests all round. The Distractions, virtually ignored for a year (and we all know who to thank, don't we Paul?), play fast dance music, with lyrics that bring a tear to your eye when you catch them. They play music that your head can enjoy while your feet are pumping on; as opposed to music that promotes dancing on other people's heads. They make you smile. They make you unselfconscious. You can enjoy yourself. 

Can you really say that of your last trip to the Russel?



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jon The Postman singing

Here's the second half of the mirth-inducing review of The Distractions' first album, "The Talking Dog Ate My Recording Contract". This scan is again thanks to Manchester District Music Archive and their fantastic City Fun Exhibition.

Otis B. Driftwood reviews the Distractions first album


This first album from the Distractions may come as a surprise to many as, rather than recording their live set they have chosen to do all new untested material apart from "Still It Doesn't Ring" which appears in radically different form than it does on stage.

Here then is a track by track preview:-


"I DON'T WANT TO KISS AND MAKE UP" is a strong opener featuring the bitchiest set of lyrics Steve Perrin has ever written (this is saying a great deal) spat out with barely suppressed delight by Finney over a backing track which sounds like four recently escaped lunatics playing "Doesn't Bother Me".

"SLINGS AND ARROWS" follows. An unusual track written by the entire band about the difficulties of finding a suitably record company. The strange sound in the middle is not a synthesiser but Alec ripping up old contracts.

"STILL IT DOESN'T RING" is performed here by a Jazz trio - (piano, drums and string bass, could be Wright, Sidebottom and Nicholllls) - submerged under the sound of voices, clinking glasses and a muffled dialogue between two drunks (almost certainly Finney and Perrin) not all of which is audible, "Who did this originally?" "The Distractions I think". "Did you ever see them?" "No".

Definite night club atmosphere which brings us to the title track.

"THE TALKING DOG ATE MY CONTRACT" is the strangest track on a strange album. Starting with a low saxophone note played by Perrin it builds up first with eerie percussion noises by Sidebottom, then a monk-like vocal chant is taken up by Alec and Adrian over which Finney sings a song about the difficulties of the music business while in a dead pan voice Perrin reads old press clippings. Suddenly Perrin's voice is replaced by somebody crying, Wright starts to brutally beat the piano, somebody turns on a radio which gets louder and louder until the sound of Jon The Postman singing "Louie Louie" drowns out everything. The radio is turned off and it's all over.

This has been a political review.

Otis B Driftwood

Otis B. Driftwood


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Talking Dog

Part one of a rather amusing "review" of The Distractions' first album from City Fun, once again courtesy of the City Fun Exhibition at the Manchester District Music Archive.  See Dave McCullough's piece in Sounds and Ian Wood's review in the NME for explanation of the talking dog...

Otis B. Driftwood reviews the Distractions first album


This first album from the Distractions may come as a surprise to many as, rather than recording their live set they have chosen to do all new untested material apart from "Still It Doesn't Ring" which appears in radically different form than it does on stage.

Here then is a track by track preview:-


"WHERE AM I" - Pip Nicholllls' first attempt at song writing and lead vocals. Accompanied only by her own bass she sings a song of total alienation finding herself without the band alone in the studio at the wrong time.

"DEATH IN ASHTON" - Adrian Wright's first contribution. A somewhat macabre story of a guitarist's family starving to death due to lack of work. A strange one musically with Alec Sidebottom playing drums (which sound as though they are filled with custard) that holds the song together.

Mike Finney's first appearance on the record is with the blood curdling scream which opens "CUSTOM AND EXCISE", an unfortunate song about a man not wishing to return to the Civil Service after glimpsing another world. The first full performance by the band with superb organ by Wright and a guitar break by Perrin which is the nearest I've ever heard to a musical epileptic fit.

"OD EHT GURHS" closes side one and is the only bit of frivolity on the record. It is in fact an old recording of "Do The Shrug" slowed down and played backwards over which Finney does a "dub style" talk over and Sidebottom and Nicholllls play a somewhat unusual guitar duet.


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