Distractions "Nobody's Perfect" (2020 reissue of 1980 album)

Something that I’ve wished for for decades has finally happened: the 1980 album Nobody’s Perfect, a rare gem recorded by a short-lived band called the Distractions, has been reissued on CD – at least in the U.K. The album was originally released on Island Records. When it failed to sell, the label dropped the band in favor of U2 – a decision that certainly paid off well for Island, but sadly led to the demise of the Distractions, a new-wave-era band who drew inspiration from all three decades of rock and roll that preceded them. Nobody’s Perfect was the only full-length album recorded by the quintet from Manchester, England during their original existence, and it quickly disappeared from the face of the Earth after its commercial failure. In 2020, Nobody's Perfect was finally reissued in the U.K. by the indie label Man In The Moon, on vinyl LP and in a 2-CD expanded edition.

(Although the band split up in 1981, singer Mike Finney and guitarist Steve Perrin eventually reunited to form new Distractions lineups, which recorded two new studio albums in 2012 and 2017. More recently, yet another lineup called the New Distractions – featuring Finney and original drummer Alex Sidebottom – has been performing live in the U.K., and they released the new single "Juliet / Stacey" on June 19th, 2020. This single finds the New Distractions sounding quite similar to the Distractions of old, which is certainly a welcome development).

The CD reissue of Nobody’s Perfect was worth the wait, even if I had to wait until this era when CD’s have gone out of fashion. When I listened to the original mix of the album on the first disc of the double-CD, I remembered why I always wanted it to be available on CD. The digital remastering is excellent, having the type of sound quality I hoped for, and giving me satisfaction that this long-lost album has now been preserved. Although the album is easy to identify as a new wave recording from its era, certain elements of ‘80’s new wave have become fashionable again during this past decade, and that helps to keep this 1980 record from sounding too dated. For example, the keyboard sounds of “Sick And Tired” and the wonderfully wistful “Leave You To Dream” sound fairly contemporary again. Modern enthusiasts of contemporary alternative music will also be able to appreciate punk gems such as “Paracetamol Paralysis” and “Valerie”, as well as the agitated pop of “Waiting For Lorraine” and “Untitled”, and the melancholy but not too serious balladry of “Looking For A Ghost”. The Elvis Costello-like “Something For The Weekend” and “Nothing” have not aged quite as well, but the album’s nods to Buddy Holly (“Wonder Girl”, “Still It Doesn’t Ring”) and Phil Spector girl groups (by way of a cover of Eden Kane’s “Boys Cry”) are nearly timeless. Nobody’s Perfect is still a treasure 40 years after its creation, and I am so glad it has finally been made available again (although it did take some time for me to obtain it in the U.S.).

New remixes of the album’s 14 tracks are included on the second disc, and these new mixes were the ones used for the vinyl LP reissue. These remixes were done by Nick Halliwell, who was a member of the 2010’s Distractions lineup. Halliwell’s remixes generally place Finney’s soulful vocals higher in the mix, while lowering the volume of the instrumentation. The thinking behind this is understandable, because it tends to make the album seem a bit more timeless, and less like a new wave album that was fashionable 40 years ago. “Something For The Weekend” and a less manic “Paracetamol Paralysis” now sound more rockabilly than new wave. “(Stuck In A) Fantasy” has a more Buddy Holly-like feeling than before, which makes it fit in well next to the two tracks that come after it. The fading of the background sounds bring out more of the melancholy in Finney’s voice on “Still It Doesn’t Ring” and “Looking For A Ghost”. However, the remixes do not always work to good advantage; for example, Halliwell muted too much of the electronic sound on “Leave You To Dream”, making it less dreamlike, and the closing track “Valerie” now sounds too much like the Buzzcocks (who also hailed from Manchester). Whatever the merits of Halliwell’s remix, the album is better in its original form. It’s okay to have the Halliwell remixes together with the earlier mixes on the double-CD, but they are not the only mixes you should own. If you plan to buy the vinyl LP reissue with only the Halliwell mixes, then you may want to search out an original 1980 LP to have along with it.

The 2-CD expanded edition also contains many other welcome bonus tracks, including the non-album A- and B-sides from three singles, as well as all four tracks from the band’s pre-album EP You’re Not Going Out Dressed Like That, and all three tracks from their post-album EP And Then There’s… (along with an additional track, “Leave Me”, from the same ska-influenced 1981 sessions). Also, the second CD begins with four energetic early demos from 1978 that sound quite consistent next to the tracks from the first EP. Being able to have all of these tracks on one handy 2-CD set is a dream I never thought would come true.

Distractions “Nobody’s Perfect” (LP) (Man In The Moon MITMLP42) 2020

Track Listing:

1. Waiting For Lorraine (remix)
2. Something For The Weekend (remix)
3. Boys Cry (remix)
4. Sick And Tired (remix)
5. Leave You To Dream (remix)
6. Louise (remix)
7. Paracetamol Paralysis (remix)
8. (Stuck In A) Fantasy (remix)
9. Nothing (remix)
10. Wonder Girl (remix)
11. Still It Doesn't Ring (remix)
12. Untitled (remix)
13. Looking For A Ghost (remix)
14. Valerie (remix)

Distractions “Nobody’s Perfect” (40th Anniversary Expanded CD Reissue) (Man In The Moon MITMCD42) 2020

Track Listing:

CD1: "Nobody’s Perfect”, 1979-81

1. Waiting For Lorraine
2. Something for the Weekend
3. Boys Cry
4. Sick And Tired
5. Leave You To Dream
6. Louise
7. Paracetamol Paralysis
8. (Stuck in a) Fantasy
9. Nothing
10. Wonder Girl
11. Still It Doesn't Ring
12. Untitled
13. Looking for a Ghost
14. Valerie
15. It Doesn’t Bother Me
16. One Way Love
17. Something For The Weekend
18. What’s The Use?
19. Twenty-Four Hours
20. Ghost of a Chance
21. Love Is Not For Me
22. Leave Me

CD2: "Ride Your Ideas Ragged”, 1978-80

1. Pillow Fight (demo)
2. Sick And Tired (demo)
3. Still It Doesn’t Ring (demo)
4. Valerie (demo)
5. Doesn’t Bother Me
6. Nothing
7. Maybe It’s Love
8. Too Young
9. Time Goes By So Slow
10. Pillow Fight
11. It Doesn’t Bother Me (remix)
12. One Way Love (remix)
13. Waiting For Lorraine (remix)
14. Something For The Weekend (remix)
15. Boys Cry (When No One Can See Them) (remix)
16. Sick And Tired (remix)
17. Leave You To Dream (remix)
18. Louise (remix)
19. Paracetamol Paralysis (remix)
20. (Stuck in a) Fantasy (remix)
21. Nothing (remix)
22. Wonder Girl (remix)
23. Still It Doesn't Ring (remix)
24. Untitled (remix)
25. Looking for a Ghost (remix)
26. Valerie (remix)