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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, August 17, 2019

Stage left

This splendid review of The Distractions' third album, 2017's 'Kindly Leave The Stage', was published by the Fear and Loathing fanzine.

THE DISTRACTIONS - 'Kindly Leave The Stage' (Occultation)

The Distractions originally emerged as part of the early Manchester punk scene, releasing their first EP, 'You’re Not Going Out Dressed Like That' on the local indie label TJM in 1978, before the ‘Time Goes By So Slow’ 7” on Factory Records in 1979. They subsequently signed to Island for the excellent ‘It Doesn’t Bother Me’ 7” and debut album, ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, developing a great sense of pop accessibility while maintaining their own style and integrity. The album received critical acclaim but failed to achieve the sales that it deserved and the band eventually split in 1981. 

Founding members Mike Finney and Steve Perrin first attempted a reunion of sorts in the mid-90’s, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the results of this brief period of songwriting emerged with the release of the 'Come Home' EP in 2010. This time, their sound had matured in a more soulful direction, although Mike Finney’s distinctive vocals ensured that the continuity was clear. Their second album ‘The End of The Pier’ was finally released in 2012, more than three decades since the first, so it now feels as if, in comparison, their third and final album has followed fast on its heels! 

Again, it contains a more soulful approach, this time with an almost mournful sense of loss, perhaps in response to their decision to make this their final project together. But whatever the case, the range of emotions are convincing and have the genuine feel of a band who doing this for no other reason than they want to do it. Musically, this is a band who may have moved a long way from their punky roots, but the same intent is still there. This isn’t an album for those only interested in nostalgia, this is there for people who want to follow the possibilities. This is a fine album and you should definitely hear it, but only if you are open to the genuine vision of the band now rather than just expecting the past.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Simplicity and contrast

Something a little different as we wait for more news on the Nobody's Perfect reissue. Here's Luke Vickers, a graphic designer's take on Peter Saville's iconic artwork for Joy Division's debut, FAC 10 Unknown Pleasures, and The Distractions' FAC 12 'Time Goes By So Slow'. Then there's Jimmy Edgar's take on the same artwork over at Insomniac, where 'Time Goes By So Slow' is listed amongst his most coveted record covers. These are the first of several FAC-related pieces that will be featured as part of Factory Records' 40th birthday.


"Time Goes By So Slow" by The Distractions, designed by Peter Saville 

The Distractions are a punk rock band from Manchester. They were mainly active 1975–1981. This is one of my favourites from Peter Saville, as the simplicity, contrast, and typography really stand out. 

Looking at the cover from the front, over half of it is black and the rest is a white/cream colour. Straight away this suggests something odd about the cover, as it is not split 50/50 like you would expect. It also looks like there is a woman’s face carved unto the black section. It looks as through it is scratched into the black section because her face is the same white/cream colour, and has very rough edges. This gives the cover unusual depth, as I imagine the black covering the white section. 

The typography used is capitalised and thin. The lettering is also spaced out unusually with large gaps, and composed in the top and bottom left hand side of the cover. 

Overall it gives the cover an almost eerie feel, as in everything feels like it is off. This may be a reflection of the punk rock movement, where artists wanted to be different and stand out.

(C) Luke Vickers.

Peter Saville is one of the best designers to ever live. If you don’t know him, then look up everything he has done. This is one of his less obvious covers, but I love this chalk-drawn outline vibe that was so popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s — it’s along the lines of lipstick on a mirror, or a casual note written from your secret lover. The composition and use of space with the typography is perfect; it makes you want to read it. At first they appear as meaningless symbols, and then it makes sense after initial study. The color of the black really works for me because of the low contrast and grainy quality, but this could be an effect from a vintage record, which is part of the whole appeal.

(C) Jimmy Edgar at Insomniac.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

We'll never know

The Distractions' final release before the 1982 split was a slightly odd affair. Released with the mysterious 'THAT1' catalogue number and distributed by Rough Trade, the beautifully shot cover photos were by Kevin Cummins. The post-Perrin sound of the band had changed rapidly but remained intruiging, and this review comes from the US and Rarebird9, who's previously written about 'You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That' and 'Nobody's Perfect'.

The Distractions “And Then There’s…” EP (Rough Trade THAT1) 1981

After Nobody’s Perfect proved to be a commercial failure, the Distractions were dropped from Island Records, reportedly in favor of a promising young Irish band called U2. Original guitarist Steve Perrin left the band, and was replaced by ex-Ludus guitarist Arthur Kadmon. The Distractions were on their last legs, but they did record one more EP titled And Then There’s… This 3-song, 7-inch EP was distributed independently by Rough Trade in 1981. 

On this EP, hints of ska and reggae were added to the Distractions’ ‘60’s-influenced pop. The guitar and drums exude island-style rhythms, as do the horns on the Kadmon-penned “Ghost Of A Chance”. Although the songs are still not exactly uplifting, they have a less melancholy tone than the songs on the album, with slightly quicker tempos and less sadness suggested in Mike Finney’s vocals. In fact, it’s hard to tell for sure if “Love Is Not For Me” is meant to be sad or funny, as it takes the point of view of a man afraid to enter a relationship for fear of experiencing real emotions.

“Ghost Of A Chance” describes a fear of rejection without sounding quite as hopeless as its lyrics. And the A-side track, “Twenty Four Hours”, actually sounds quite hopeful, if not necessarily confident, that romance may be in store for its main character. How would a full-length album by this Distractions lineup have turned out? Alas, we’ll never know.

 Track Listing:

a. Twenty Four Hours
b1. Ghost Of A Chance
b2. Love Is Not For Me

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