Webbie from Football and Music was the bloke who got so many of us involved in keepingitpeelday back in last October. We had a wee exchange of emails afterwards - I congratulated him on what he achieved and he, among other things, said that he hoped I would do a posting on Kitchens Of Distinction.
His reason being "I was listening to Drive That Fast. What an epic song and a beautiful noise.
I said yes of course I would.
Problem was, I had very little knowledge of the band other than the fact I knew Comrade Colin had been a fan and had, on one of his former blogs, written about them in glowing terms. So I had to do my research, and more importantly, get listening to some songs. But even then I still couldn't do it justice, so the good comrade has stepped in and bailed me out:-
What on earth is that sound?
Who is making it?
And how is that even possible?
I remember thinking all these things when I first heard Kitchens of Distinction. And, being of a certain age, I first heard them through a track on the cassette tape ‘Gigantic! 2’ that was released via Melody Maker/Rough Trade in 1990. It was a live recording of ‘Shiver’, a track from their debut album ‘Love is Hell’ (One Little Indian, 1989), that was included on the music paper compilation and I confess it haunted me for weeks and weeks.
It was the ethereal, shimmering sounds that appeared to be coming from what might have been several guitars with many effects pedals being put to good use. And that voice, my God, what a voice howling and bellowing with intent and rage, layer upon layer. It was 4 minutes and 43 seconds I would come to know very well as I couldn’t stop playing it on my old Sony Walkman and I think this was because, looking back now, this one song alone had all three of the essential ingredients that even today attracts me to the music I prefer to listen to: guitar playing that can stop you dead in your tracks, often featuring lots of effects and seemingly otherworldly sounds; lyrics that are thoughtful, cryptic, melancholic, playful and witty; and, lastly, a drum/bass mix that can make you feel as if your insides may spill out in seconds as the notes lurch from a drastic swoop to a literal howl. You know what you like, as they say, and I loved this band like no tomorrow.
Anyway, having eventually worn out that ‘Gigantic! 2’ tape with the hundredth ‘play/stop/rewind/play’ cycle, I ventured to the independent music shops to discover more delights from the Kitchens and it was a wonderful privilege to do so. I followed this band religiously from that first play of ‘Shiver’ until they split in 1996. I bought everything I could, from albums to EPs. I hunted for live cassettes at Music Fairs. I saw them play, usually staring at Patrick’s beautiful face, hard, or Julian’s pedal board. I also adored the shirts Julian used to wear, he had some classics. I liked Patrick’s glasses an awful lot. Dan had a smile that really meant something. And even still, many years later, there is no other band, to my mind, that can touch the sum of the parts that they each brought to the band and the creative fusion - the friendship - that was so evident when they played.
The magicians were: Daniel Goodwin who played drums, Julian Swales was on the guitars and Patrick Fitzgerald walloped his bass and penned the lyrics and sang his sweet, broken heart out – lyrics often touching on his identity and life as a gay man, at a time when to do so in ‘indie’ circles was not something that was as welcomed as it is, arguably, today. He put himself out there, writing about what he knew about in an honest, direct and brave way. And, no one played keyboards. That’s quite important to remember when you take a listen.
mp3 : Kitchens of Distinction – ‘Shiver’ (live) (4.43)
The place to start is this essential compilation. Or the aforementioned debut album.
Patrick still performs as Stephen Hero. Julian is a composer writing soundtracks for TV and film. I have no idea what Dan is up to, I’m afraid.
NB: This wee postcard was supposed to be a kind of ‘everything you ever wanted to know about the Kitchens of Distinction but were afraid to ask’. It didn’t quite happen that way, I’m afraid. I got rather caught up in remembering that first moment of hearing that one track, ‘Shiver’. It just took over. I might try again, another time, to define exactly why this band mattered so much and give them further words; words they so deserve, as you can tell.
And that dear readers seems as perfect a way to bring an end to the Sunday Correspondents series. As with everyone who has contributed over the past 18 months, Comrade Colin has written with passion and soul and brought something special to this little corner of the blogosphere.
I'm not saying this is the end of guest contributions - I couldn't keep this going and get by without a lot of help from my friends - and from now on any posts sent in by readers will appear as and when instead of just a Sunday.
But I can revel that next Sunday sees the start of a new series on TVV....one that is probably the most ambitious so far and likely to enthral, entertain and educate loads of folk. Including me!!! Tune in next Sunday and find out for yourself......