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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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Monday, December 16, 2019

Mancunian Ramones

This piece from Prof David Quantick appeared in April 2019's Record Collector magazine. A month or two later, it was announced that his wish would be granted!


PLEASE RELEASE ME

A new, regular look at albums crying out for reissue

The Distractions 
Nobody's Perfect 
(Island ILPS 9601, UK LP, 1980) £15

1980 was a cusp year for guitar music as punk and new wave finally gave way to post-punk, 2-Tone, and new romantics. Which may partly account for the lack of success of Manchester band The Distractions' Nobody's Perfect, one of the great lost pop albums of all time - that, and the fact that the band signed to Island roughly when U2 did; far from ideal timing. Despite strong reviews, Nobody's Perfect did nothing commercially, and the band lost one of its members (guitarist Steve Perrin), were dropped from the label, and sputtered out shortly after.

The Distractions were an odd mix. Described as "Buzzcocks [if they] had been on Motown", they boasted Pete Shelley-type melodies, lyrics and racing guitar, and the vocals of Mike Finney, one of the best pop-soul singers. They began their career with the brilliant EP You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That (which posited them as the Mancunian Ramones), briefly swerved onto Factory to make the revered Time Goes By So Slow single, and were then signed by Island.

Nobody's Perfect is one of those albums that creates its own world, from the wry title and matching front cover to the songs, which range from the skittering paranoia of Waiting For Lorraine to the choral doom of Looking For A Ghost. Brilliant songs of frustration and melancholy, the near-hit single, a cover of Eden Kane's Boys Cry, showcased Finney's voice but not the band's gift with guitars and melodies; at times this record could be the work of a very wired Searchers, so well does it combine its tuneful roots with the modern era. True, it suffers from a slight lack of oomph in its production, but turned up loud, it's glorious.

Still unavailable in any form (though there is talk of a crowd-funded release for all The Distractions' work), Nobody's Perfect could have been a forlorn tombstone, but Finney and Perrin reunited in 2012 and released two superb albums of middle-aged brilliance, The End Of The Pier and Kindly Leave The Stage. These, thankfully, are still in print.

David Quantick

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