As promised, an entire week of complete ICA postings from the vaults, but all written originally by various guests. This was ICA 55 on 11 January 2016.
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…?
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: http://isthis-thelife.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/20-more-songs-to-take-to-my-grave-35.html
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.
1. Sand On Fire (from ‘Cowboys And Aliens’)
‘Cowboys And Aliens’ was to be Kitchens Of Distinction’s last album for the best part 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’)