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Kitchens of Distinction (sometimes shortened colloquially to KOD) are an English three-person alternative rock band formed in Tooting, South London, in 1986. They released four studio albums and a handful of singles and EPs before disbanding in 1996. In September 2012, Patrick Fitzgerald announced on the bands Facebook page of Stephen Hero that he and the other original KOD members Julian Swales and Dan Goodwin were working on new material as Kitchens of Distinction. The reunited trio released their fifth studio album, their first since 1994, in late September 2013.

Dan Goodwin (drums) met Julian Swales (guitar) at college in 1980, and Swales met Patrick Fitzgerald (vocals/bass guitar) at a party in 1985. The trio began rehearsing together that same year, taking their name from a company of the same name that specialised in home decor and kitchen and plumbing fixtures, after Swales spotted one of their advertisements on the side of a bus while riding his bike. The Kitchens’ first single, “The Last Gasp Death Shuffle” (which featured Swales on lead vocals and bass, as well as guitar) was recorded in just one day on an eight-track in a Kennington basement, and was released in December 1987 on the band’s own Gold Rush Records. It was named a ‘Single of the Week’ in NME, and led to the band signing with British indie label One Little Indian Records around this time, Fitzgerald – who was a medical doctor – put his career on hold to devote himself fully to the band.

Their first singles for One Little Indian Records , 1988’s “Prize” and 1989’s “The 3rd Time We Opened the Capsule”, made it onto the “NME Writers’ 100 Best Indie Singles Ever” list,

Their first full-length album, “Love Is Hell”, was released in April 1989. Fitzgerald’s impassioned, wordy, often bluntly personal vocals careened over what sounded like a mass of swirling guitars, though the band only had one guitarist. Swales’ chiming, effects-laden style of playing drew him comparisons to the guitarists of the Chameleons, Cocteau Twins, and A.R. Kane. KOD’s melodic yet abstract sound was a precursor of the shoegazing scene of the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Despite the promising start, the band faced a subdued reception from the mainstream music industry, generally due to their lyrical content. For instance, “Margaret’s Injection”, on the 1989 “Elephantine” EP, was a fantasy about killing then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Also, Fitzgerald was openly gay, and his lyrics were unapologetic, especially on tracks like “Prize” and “Within the Daze of Passion”. Even the more indie-focused television programs like Snub TV and Rapido failed to give them much coverage, although Snub TV played the video for the title track of their 1991 EP Drive that Fast

They were not at first offered a John Peel radio session; they eventually did get one after asking Peel personally, following a Glastonbury performance that he appreciated. The group signed with A&M Records in the US in 1990, and went into the studio with producer Hugh Jones. Their second album “Strange Free World” was released in February 1991, and spawned some moderately successful A-sides in “Drive that Fast” and “Quick as Rainbows”, both of which were very well received by college radio in the US.

The band went back into the studio in 1992, again with Jones at the helm, and their third album “The Death of Cool” came out in August that year; it was named in honour of the passing of Miles Davis, who had recently died, and whose influential album titled The Birth of the Cool had been released in 1950.  A&M balked at the band’s choice of “Breathing Fear” for the first single, due to its touchy subject matter so “Smiling” became the album’s initial single in the US. The band toured extensively, including a high-profile slot opening for their US labelmate Suzanne Vega.

Later in 1993, Kitchens of Distinction began work on their fourth album, co-producing it themselves with engineer Pete Bartlett. The album got rejected the twice, and eventually, both label and band agreed to bring in up-and-coming producer Pascal Gabriel to work on a couple of tracks. One of the label’s complaints about the album as the band originally submitted it was that it seemed to lack a potential hit single, so Gabriel produced a new song (“Come on Now”) that the band had written after the rest of the album had already been recorded; Gabriel also remixed two of the album’s other tracks (opening song “Sand on Fire” and first single “Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye”). The resulting album, “Cowboys and Aliens”, was released in the UK in October 1994, the changes did nothing to help the album’s dismal sales. When the album saw its US release in early 1995, it was largely ignored by the same alternative rock radio and media that had championed them just a few years earlier.

By the end of that year, both A&M and One Little Indian Records had dropped the band. Shortening their name to Kitchens O.D. and signing to the London-based indie label Fierce Panda Records, they issued a single, “Feel My Genie” in May 1996,[4] which was named ‘Single of the Week’ by Melody Maker, but the group officially disbanded that summer after a farewell gig at Kings Cross in London.

Albums:

Love Is Hell, Strange Free World, The Death of Cool, Cowboys and Aliens, Folly.

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