Friday, 17 July 2015

50 songs to take to my grave #35: Quick As Rainbows

To my mind, Kitchens Of Distinction were one of the great overlooked bands of the 90s. There are all kinds of theories behind their failure to break into the mainstream: they were difficult to categorise; the singer's sexuality wasn't deemed compatible with the genre; their songs' challenging subject matter. All utterly ridiculous, if you ask me. Kitchens Of Distinction would have been huge if artistry really mattered to the masses. But it doesn't, so they weren't.

A shame, because it means the masses missed out on Quick As Rainbows, one of the era's great pop songs. The original single, produced by the late Martin Hannett, was always one of my favourite tracks of the decade. Released in March 1990, it didn't sound like anything else around at the time. The shoegazing movement was taking off, and for some reason, Kitchens were lumped in with that by the ever-lazy press, but I always thought there was a lot more to them than that. With Kitchens of Distinction, there seemed to be far more emphasis on melody and meaningful lyrics than their contemporaries.

It was the band's first new material since their debut album, but it wouldn't be until a full 12 months later that a new album, 'Strange Free World', would emerge. It contained a newly recorded version of Quick As Rainbows, and I was massively disappointed. It just lacked a bit of the punch the original had. While it was clear the intention was to make it fit with the rest of the album - which it did - I would rather it had been left off altogether as it meant most people came to know this inferior version rather than the amazing original.

While I can now stomach the album version far more than I did back then, I still cannot get past the fact that the original single version is infinitely better. It's less laden with claustrophobic noises and effects which distract from the song itself. Hannett's simpler take on it allows Quick As Rainbows to breathe and spread its shimmering gloriousness far and wide.

I absolutely adore Kitchens Of Distinction, and when they released their first album in 19 years in 2013, it was a delight. They clearly still had it in them to write some great music and the finished songs were among the best in their canon. The Bowie-heralding single Japan To Jupiter was a serious contender for this series, but it was edged out as Quick As Rainbows has endured for 25 years, and I still haven't grown remotely tired of it. If that doesn't qualify it for a place in my coffin, I sure as hell don't know what does.

UPDATE: There's been an extraordinary amount of hits on this post in less than 24 hours, way more than any thing else I've ever posted. Well, according to Blogger's stats anyway. Anyone know if this has been tweeted or shared somewhere?


  1. This is such a good choice, Robster. I know at least one other reader that's going to flip out when he reads this one too.

  2. Spot on!! KoD always deserved so much more than they ever received...Late out of the gate to gain the attention of most Post Punk fans and attempting to gain support and interest as shoegaze gave over to grunge which spoiled everything, KoD still put out intensely personal and sonically brilliant music. Strange Free World is firmly placed in my all time favorites list and Quick As Rainbows and Polaroids are just brilliant.
    As for 2013's Folly, it's an emotionally charged album with Fitzgerald abandoning any lyrical constrictions he may have ever felt and Julian Swales reaching new heights of beauty with his guitar. The track that hits me emotionally on Folly is Photographing Rain. Japan To Jupiter is certainly does nod to the band's youth growing up in the age of Glam and Extravagance is the kind of widescreen cinematic music KoD do so well.

  3. KOD posted it on their Facebook page so that could explain some of your web traffics.

    Great post by the way...they are definitely one of the great overlooked bands of all time.

    1. Woah, that's never happened before. It's been tweeted too, prompting Patrick Fitzgerald himself (now recording as Stephenhero) to comment: "great piece. understand why he prefers the Hannett version - we mixed it over martin's sleeping head! - but still prefer SFW one". I'm honoured.

  4. Great post, great band, great song! I wanted to comment because I woke up just a few days ago with Quick As Rainbows running through my head for no particular reason, which triggered two days of Kitchens immersion. I know it's obvious, but Drive That Fast is also an incredible song, though Under The Sky, Inside The Sea remains my favourite from SFW.

    Much as I adored Strange Free World, Cowboys And Aliens was my favourite album (I never really got on with Death Of Cool, have tried many times), with Remember Me and One Of Those Sometimes Is Now as pinnacles, but then Folly blew me away all over again. I hope there's plenty more to come from KoD.

  5. The Kings money.. that's the Kitchens, even if they were the reason our band got passed on by One Little Indian x

  6. I tweeted a link to your great post on the greatest band to Patrick back in July. His new band, Oskar's Drum, played their first gig in December, guess which KoD song they played....


    1. Awesome. First, thanks for your kind words and the tweet to PF. Secondly, thanks for the tip off about Oskar's Drum. Love that they're playing 'Rainbows'. If they play somewhere nearby I'll be there!

  7. I start most days with reading your latest post along with TVV and a few others. We share a similar wide taste in music. KoD, TWP and Lush are some of my longtime favourites.
    Most of the debut set by Oskar's Drum has been posted by RileyELFuk including a better quality Q As R. Wish I could have been there.
    I am keeping fingers crossed that they will support LUSH at the reunion shows. :)

    Another tip - check out the latest non stop activity by Mr Stephen Jones (aka Black Reindeer, Outsider, Deluder etc etc)
    Lots of free downloads for a taste of his genius and a special price for complete digital catalogue of over 100 releases!
    Are you on Twitter??
    All the best GMFree