Mad As Snow: An Imaginary Compilation : Kitchens Of Distinction

I love Kitchens Of Distinction. They really were one of the great overlooked bands of their period and should have received far more acclaim than they did, though what they did get was rarely less than glowing. It makes sense therefore that they should get the Imaginary Compilation treatment.

I’ve done a few of these for JC now, and I have to say this was one of the most difficult. My own Best Of KOD folder contains 30 tracks, none of which I feel I could leave out, so narrowing it down to a mere 10 to suit this remit was a real battle. As a result, there are plenty of notable omissions. I’m sure most people would have included Drive That Fast, but then I’ve never been most people. It also irks me that I’ve had to forego the likes of When In Heaven, the original 12″ mix of 4 Men, and Mad As Snow which is what I had already decided was going to be the title of the comp.

Argue away folks, I’d love to know what you’d have included. As it is, all five albums are represented, so I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done here. Well, apart from leaving out Mad As Snow. What was I thinking? Can I have 11 songs JC…?

Side One

1. The 3rd Time We Opened The Capsule (from ‘Love Is Hell’)

The third single, the second track I ever heard by KOD. I still love it. It sounds like an opening track to me and shows off both sides of the band – those hypnotic, shimmering guitar sounds, but with a good strong rhythm keeping things going.

2. Quick As Rainbows [single version] (single; later re-recorded for ‘Strange Free World’)

It has to be the single version as the most read article ever on my blog explains:

3. Japan To Jupiter (from ‘Folly’)

What a comeback. Seriously, who could have expected a song even half as wonderful as this after 18 years away? My second-fave KOD track of all time. Not sure if they have any other things planned together – I hope so – but if not, ‘Folly’ is as good an album to go out on as any.

4. Elephantine (non-LP; from ‘Elephantine’ EP)

A stunning single that marked noticeable shift towards the lush multi-layered guitar sounds the band would become known for. It has been tacked onto the end of reissues of ‘Love Is Hell’, but definitely sounds more like a ‘Strange Free World’ kind of track. It’s also one of the bands more politically overt songs, with Patrick Fitzgerald proclaiming “Every great nation ends up deserving war.” Sadly, here we are more than 25 years later and that still couldn’t be any more apt.

5. Gorgeous Love (from ‘Strange Free World’)

One of Patrick’s finest vocals here, I think. A definite standout from the second album.

Side Two

1. Sand On Fire (from ‘Cowboys And Aliens’)

‘Cowboys And Aliens’ was to be Kitchens Of Distinction’s last album for the best art of two decades. You can hear the direction they were moving down; shedding the shoegaze label that had been lazily thrust upon them, they seemed to be forging a louder, rockier sound as evidenced on the album’s opener.

2. Wolves, Crows (from ‘Folly’)

One of the big surprises from the comeback album was this monster of a track. It’s quite unlike anything else the band ever recorded, but kind of backs up what I just said about the rockier elements of the band coming to the fore. Those pounding drums! Shoegaze it most definitely ain’t.

3. Breathing Fear (from ‘The Death Of Cool’)

Remarkable isn’t it. The US of A considers itself to be the ‘Land Of The Free’, a bastion of democracy and freedom, tolerance and respect. Yet they could never accept a song about ‘queer bashing’ being released as a single. Unless perhaps it was a song that condoned such predjudice, was performed by Ted Nugent and used by Donald Trump as part of his election campaign. In the much more enlightened UK however, Breathing Fear trailed KODs third album. It’s not a comfortable listen, but musically it’s as delightful as anything the band made.

4. Prize (from ‘Love Is Hell’)

Back in 1988 I bought a double-album compilation of acts signed to the One Little Indian label. It included Prize. It was the first time I ever heard Kitchens Of Distinction, and that’s the reason it’s included here. Sure, they made better songs, but the fact Prize drew me in makes it more than worthy.

5. Now It’s Time To Say Goodbye (from ‘Cowboys And Aliens’)

While it wasn’t intended to be the band’s swan song, there aren’t many better ways to bow out. Following the release of ‘Cowboys And Aliens’, KOD began working on new material and put a single out in 1996, but nothing else materialised until 2013. If this had been their final tune though, I’m not sure there would have been many complaints. It’s the natural album closer for me.

Special bonus one-sided coloured vinyl 10″ (available with initial pressing only):

1. Mad As Snow [long version] (from ‘The Death Of Cool’)

mp3 : Kitchens of Distinction – The 3rd Time We Opened The Capsule
mp3 : Kitchens of Distinction – Quick As Rainbows [single version]
mp3 : Kitchens of Distinction – Japan To Jupiter
mp3 : Kitchens of Distinction – Elephantine
mp3 : Kitchens of Distinction – Gorgeous Love
mp3 : Kitchens of Distinction – Sand On Fire
mp3 : Kitchens of Distinction – Wolves, Crows
mp3 : Kitchens of Distinction – Breathing Fear
mp3 : Kitchens of Distinction – Prize
mp3 : Kitchens of Distinction – Now It’s Time To Say Goodbye
mp3 : Kitchens of Distinction – Mad As Snow [long version]

The Robster


  1. Confirming your aforementioned suspicion: To me, leaving out “Drive That Fast” is akin to a compilation of The Clean that doesn’t include “Point That Thing Somewhere Else.”

  2. Yeah good choices, great band. Tho still amazed how 1001st fault continues to be overlooked. IMO the band’s finest moment. These drinkers & Railwayed may have made my top 10. Thx for the 2 tips from Folly – I’ll give them both a listen. Always sceptical of bands when they “return” & never given this record the listening it clearly merits – so good reminder, ta. Great blog!

  3. Good choice of tracks by The Robster, I would not have been able to choose only ten and would not have left Mad As Snow out. Good idea to add as bonus!
    Each of the 5 albums end perfectly, with beautiful songs, the sort that when they are over make you want to play the whole album again. 🙂
    A second bonus 10″ should include the first single “The Last Gasp Death Shuffle”, last 90s single “Feel My Genie” and unreleased lost classics, “Longed and Searched”, “Talk To Me” and “Love’s Too Strong”. GMFree

  4. Embarrassed to say I never heard ONE of these songs. I remember the name of the band, vaguely, but these are all new to me. Loving the guitar work on ‘Sand on Fire’. Going to have to investigate…

  5. JTFL….no need to be embarrassed. Until Robster supplied the words and music then I on;y was aware of them by name and reputation. But you’re right to say they are worth further investigation.

    I’m pleased to see the ICA didn’t get lost altogether on the back of the second posting of the day and that folk are still keen to look out today for music that wasn’t made by or involved the late David Bowie.

  6. Remember Me would have to be in there for me just for those 2 scorching guitar breaks. Incredible skyscraping sounds that Swales gets out of the guitar there.

  7. Great choices Robster! I would have to find some room for Polaroids from Strange Free World, Photographing Rain and Oak Tree from Folly – yes, WHAT A COMEBACK! – as well as Hammer from Love Is Hell. Your right, my playlist currently consists of 37 songs…every single one amazing.

  8. Probably the hardest band other than the Chameleons to do a compilation of in my book. What to leave out? Nothing, so the only answer is to pick the tunes that connect to your own story. Cheers for sharing. To choose ten…hard, but I’d have to include ‘Innocence’ – a thing of beauty.

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