It must have been a difficult task, assembling the best moments of Kitchens Of Distinction's frequently brilliant career. To that extent perhaps the only people who could have decided on a track listing - without being criticised by their adoring fans - would be the band themselves. The limited edition version features 2 CDs, one for the 'best of' and one for the devotees which includes B-sides, demos, live tracks and acoustic versions. As the first CD contains album tracks only it is best suited to the unitiated only. This well-balanced selections charts - in non-chronlogical order - a range of thrilling and passionate anthems with Julian Swales in the starring role as the wizard conjuring up magical spells with the effects pedal on his guitar whereas Patrick Fitzgerald valiantly struggles to make himself heard above the huge noise swelling around him. Granted, they toned the noise down on the farewell effort 'Cowboys And Aliens' which - and this is just a small gripe - features less essential commercial fare such as 'Come On Now' and 'Remember Me' (interestingly Fitzgerald cites the former as his best vocal performance, it is more a case of him not straining on ever word to prevent Swales from dominating). That minor quibble aside though, it would take a hard heart and near deafness not to appreciate the fantastic melodies which underpin the likes of 'Drive That Fast' or 'When In Heaven' to name but two of an almost faultless bunch.
The second CD is not quite as consistently brilliant but then this collection of oddities still surpasses the best work of the Kitchens' contemporaries. There are a few notable omissions, notably the A.R.Kane-like 'Anvil Dub', the original single version of 'Elephantine' (although it is here in a rather different form where the guitars are replaced by piano) and the lost, great B-side '1001st Fault'. On a more positive note 'Margaret's Injection' is one of their essential early singles where the lyrics rail against politics with deliciously plangent guitar lines. Unsurprisingly given their obsession with walls of sound, the trio were well suited to delivering quality instrumentals and '3 To Beam Up' and 'Skin' are stunning enough to make words unnecessary. The final four acoustic tracks serve a purpose in so far as proving they could play guitars without the need for artificial help; in turn neatly predating Fitzgerald's recent solo incarnation as Stephen Hero. Yet the sound of Kitchens Of Distinction should be the one which lingers longest in the memory.