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The Distractions - Black Velvet EP (Occultation U.K.)

The Distractions - Black Velvet EP (Occultation U.K.)
17 January 2011

Having just reviewed this reformed band’s new EP, here’s the other one also released this year—although in this case, the recordings date from the late ‘70s Manchester band’s first revival, back in 1995, but they were unissued until now. If you’ve heard the gentle sway of the last two tracks of the Distractions’ new (genuinely new) Come Home EP, you’ll know what you will be getting from “Black Velvet” here, with a hint in its title: it’s a six-minute tickle ‘n’ tease post-Velvet Underground third LP pop tune. Ditto the closing, five-minute “If You Were Mine.” And while both are effective, even wonderfully lulling, these two are actually pale in comparison to the shorter, brighter, jauntier “Still it Doesn’t Ring” stuck in between. This sandwich-middle track is a jangly-guitar tune that makes more urgent use of Steve Perrin ’s playing (hearkening back to the band’s ’79-’80 heyday) and Mike Finney ’s unsettling vocals, unhappy over the unused phone number in question. In fact, it’s not far from what Paul Collins has been up to of late. (And Collins knows something about frustrated phone calls from his old ‘70s band The Nerves’ “Hanging on the Telephone.”) Indeed, on all six of their songs on the two Occultation EPs, but this one song in particular, this pair of Manchester post-punk-era originals seems newly reborn with their more recent lineups. And a second LP, three decades after the debut, is surely in order. (