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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, August 31, 2020

A classic pop debut - Record Collector

Here's the Record Collector review of the Nobody's Perfect 2CD and LP reissue by Tim Peacock that accompanied the Nick Stewart interview. 

Practice Makes Perfect

Post punk classic reissued. By Tim Peacock

The Distractions

Nobody’s Perfect


Man In The Moon/Occultation MITM 42 (2CD/LP)

Like so many gifted bands who suffered similar fates, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why The Distractions fell through the cracks. Cited – along with their regular gigging partners Joy Division – by the NME’s Paul Morley as one of Manchester’s brightest hopes (“Joy Division are the perfect rock band for the 80s… and The Distractions are the perfect pop band”), they seemed poised for greatness when they signed to Island, only for their debut album, Nobody’s Perfect, to sink without trace.

In retrospect, the record’s abject failure still seems hard to credit, as The Distractions seemingly held all the aces when it was first released in February 1980. They could easily pull a thousand punters to their hometown gigs and their lone Factory single, Time Goes By So Slow, was as revered locally as Buzzcocks’ What Do I Get?, Magazine’s Shot By Both Sides or Joy Division’s Transmission. 

Whatever the vagaries, though, it’s criminal that Nobody’s Perfect has languished in obscurity for this long. It never previously made it to CD or even caught a whiff of a vinyl reissue, so this bells and whistles 40th anniversary edition – which also includes all the band’s early demos, non-LP singles’n’flips and a 2020 remix of the whole shebang by uber fan/Occultation label boss Nick Halliwell – will be a welcome surprise for long-term fans. It’s as close to a definitive Distractions package as you could wish for.

The Distractions (with Mike Finney, far-right): “diverse and dashing”

Approaching the two discs chronologically reveals just how quickly the band evolved en route to making Nobody’s Perfect. The second disc’s slew of demos from September 1978 and the four tracks from the debut EP, You’re Not Going Out Dressed Like That, have retained their original vim and vigour, but while their garage-y energy captures the spirit of the times, the superior song-craft inherent in Maybe It’s Love and the melancholic Nothing demonstrate that this talented quintet had already outstripped the limitations of punk.

Armed with a major label budget for Nobody’s Perfect, The Distractions pulled out all the stops to create a classic pop debut and came heroically close. Seemingly always the bridesmaid, Mike Fnney reveals why he remains the most underappreciated vocalist of his generation on the sumptuous ballads (Still It Doesn’t Ring; a glorious, Spectorian remake of Eden Kane’s 1964 hit, Boys Cry), while tunes as diverse and dashing as the edgy power-pop of Waiting For Lorraine and the swooning Leave You To Dream should have seen chief songwriter Steve Perrin ranked among Mancunian giants such as Graham Gouldman and Pete Shelley many moons ago.

Tying up loose ends, there’s also the three tracks of And Then There’s..., the band’s lone post-Island EP from 1981, which are quirkier and clearly recorded on a shoestring, but produced with little discernible drop-off in quality. To complete the picture, meanwhile, ardent fans and newcomers alike will have a blast comparing and contrasting the original Nobody’s Perfect with Nick Halliwell’s angular modern-day remix, which kicks the record’s outdated keyboard textures into touch and recasts the album in a notably sleeker, radio-friendly light that sounds thrillingly contemporary.

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