I would love to suggest I was hip enough to have known of The Distractions in their early ‘80s heyday but it is not true. Music simply was not that important to me then.
No, it was not until I picked up on the ‘Seeds - Pop’ compilation from Cherry Red in 1987 that I first heard The Distractions in the form of their Factory single ‘Time Goes By So Slow’. So I was already eight years late to the party, but it still cut me deep.
Over the following decades I came to know The Distractions better. They were one of those groups who were a part of the fabric of the mythology of my Pop. A group I had never really known yet whose songs were vital and thrilling parts of my personal history. Those groups are the strangest ones for the connections to the soul are entirely constructed of self-made moments divorced from any original context. In that way then for me The Distractions were no different to The Velvet Underground or The Byrds. No less important, either.
Of course we all know that some things are best left in their past. Some things, when cast in new contexts, become suddenly faded, weary and sad. The memories become tarnished. Everything is spoiled. You can see how I would be anxious then when I heard that The Distractions were to release some new recordings in 2010...
I needn’t have worried. Preceded by the release of the exquisite Black Velvet EP (actually recorded in the mid ‘90s), the ‘Come Home’ EP showed that The Distractions were as magical as ever. Lead cut ‘Lost’ was prime Distractions: a sparkling soul sensation with a pounding Pop sensibility. Yes, 2010 saw us tragically lose The Action’s Reggie King but it also saw the return of The Distractions’ Mike Finney. And for sure I would be more than happy slipping ‘Lost’ into a set alongside ‘Come On, Come With Me’ if the chance arose.
The real gem for me though was their recording of Nick Halliwell’s ‘Oil Painting’. You may know Halliwell as the man behind The Granite Shore, and I understand that he wrote ‘Oil Painting’ with The Distractions in mind. It’s a gorgeous number; the kind of song one can only imagine being penned by someone of experience; someone grown comfortable with their love and their world. It is a song of devotion and wonder; of acceptance and defiance. And those are qualities we should be treasuring, in these of all times.