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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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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Nobody's Perfect, but this reissue is - Louder Than War

This is the second half of Ian Canty's review of the Nobody's Perfect 2CD reissue at Louder Than War, which covers the all the bonus tracks. 

The Distractions – Nobody’s Perfect

By Ian Canty

The rest of the selections here are made up of their Island singles, the 'And Then There’s…' EP issued on That Records in 1981 after they left Chris Blackwell’s empire and a compilation cut Leave Me (produced by the great Richard Strange). Kingpin Steve Perrin had left the band after the exit from Island and was replaced by Arthur Kadmon (ex-Ludus). The EP in particular offers a tantalising glimpse into how The Distractions could have thrived as the 1980s went on. The horns added to Ghost Of A Chance work well, as Mike Finney was always a soul singer in truth, the R&B flavour suits the band ideally. Love Is Not For Me has some great funk jabs and Leave Me shows the subtle craft of The Distractions was still in full effect.

Disc two here goes under the title of 'Ride Your Ideas Ragged', which seeks to gather up all demos, the early singles from the band 1978-80, plus a new remix of the album by Nick Halliwell. By sidestepping any unwise modernisation, he has done wonders. Instead he subtly brings up different elements up in the sound and gently adds small but necessary fills. What he presents here a new and thrilling alternative to the 1980 mix, exposing hidden layers. This spotlights Mike’s excellent voice, but also gives a different perspective too – you can finally see the sense of Nick Stewart’s pursuit of Gary Usher (producer of The Beach Boys) to helm 'Nobody’s Perfect' hearing the harmony vocals on Leave You To Dream, or properly hear some neat bass runs on (Stuck In A) Fantasy. Mike Finney’s voice is given pride of place and this mix also offers clear perspective of the instrumental prowess at work. It all gels together wonderfully well.

Apart from the remix, there’s a lot of fun to be had on their early punky demos, with the ratty sound of the first version of Pillow Fight a real winner. The Time Goes By So Slow single, as noted above, never ages and the TJM EP finds the band limbering up the gifts at their disposal nicely. No wonder Tony Wilson jumped in. 

'Nobody’s Perfect' didn’t make the kind of mark it should have and as a consequence has remained sadly unavailable until now. This reissue is sorely needed and the booklet meets the standard set by the musical contents. Ex-NME writer, novelist and long-term advocate of the band David Quantick provides an excellent sleeve-note to set the scene and Nick Stewart explains his crucial relationship with the band. Nick Halliwell also tells us about the remix, which rounds off a fine collection.

Happily The Distractions sprang back into life in the 21st century and have since supplied us with two great belated follow-up LPs in 'The End Of The Pier' and 'Kindly Leave The Stage', from 2012 and 2017 respectively. I caught them live a year or two back and they were just brilliant, with Finney’s voice still a thing of beauty and the new version of the band spot on (see here for more). I would urge you to check them out live as you really wouldn’t want to miss the chance of seeing the songs featured here done justice, would you? Nobody’s Perfect maybe, but this reissue is.

(c) Ian Canty at Louder Than War. 

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