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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, October 12, 2019

The future looks quite rosy 

Here's the first half of a terrific article by Brian Davies in the Irish fanzine, Positive Reaction. It covers the huge 1979 Rock Against Racism gig where The Distractions were joined by their soon-to-be-Factory Records label-mates, X-O-Dus. Thanks to Brian for the scans and permission to republish.





The original bill was THE ONLY ONES / ANGELIC UPSTARTS / ASWAD / and local reggae band EXODUS. The Only Ones pulled out (no idea why!), so did Aswad 'cos one of them had a nervous breakdown, and apparently because Aswad couldn't appear so Angelic Upstarts followed suit. At one stage THE FALL were  supposed to appear but that was pure speculation on the organisers' behalf.

After their lengthy sound-check, watched by most of the multi-racial audience (reaching a peak of about 5,000-6,000), EXODUS appeared on stage at about 9pm. Theirs is a brand of totally unique reggae, the lead guitarist often employing out of date guitar-hero solos. But when they played straight-forward reggae they were great, the bass and drum meshing beautifully and the male singer had a really melodic and tuneful voice. The first number ("Racial Problems"?) was really good, the musicians in the group (two guitars, bass and drums) played alone for about five minutes and were then joined by a male and female singer. The next number "World In Action" was pretty ordinary but "English Black Boys" was really excellent. 

I then left my brother who was impressed by the rest of the set, in search of a few words with THE DISTRACTIONS. This group will probably be a new name to most Irish readers but they have released one record, a twelve-inch on TJM Records, "You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That". The music is fast-pop, but that classification does not do them justice. I would say they write better pop tunes than Pete Shelley or Blondie (is there any higher praise?).

Anyway, after much messing, asking different people (hi Ann!), their manager (ex) took me to the dressing room, where I met the band and assorted girlfriends. Not really being prepared, I came away something patchy, so what I'll do is give you a brief history of the band, their future plans and a few other interesting items that came out of conversation!

The group formed about two years ago, when (I think) lead singer Mike Finney and guitarist Steve Perrin put an advert in NME, and from this, they got another guitarist Adrian Wright. He brought with him ex-Purple Gang drummer Alec, who had just returned from America. After they hassled Pete Shelley for a bass player they got Pip Nicholls. Tony Davidson, owner of the wealthy TJM label saw them and asked them to record for him. Within a week they had been in the studios and recorded the four tracks which make up the EP: "Doesn't Bother Me", "Nothing", "Maybe It's Love" and "Too Young". It was Single of the Week in NME and almost received the same accolade in 'Sounds'. The future looks quite rosy for one of Manchester's brightest hopes, with a gig in London soon at either the Marquee or Music Machine. The EP was a one-off and the band had signed a production deal with Arrow for the next single, possibly the brilliant "Still It Doesn't Ring".

(C) Brian Davies

To be continued 

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