Kitchens of Distinction

Watch Our Planet Circle

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Produced in an edition of one thousand, Watch Our Planet Circle is a technically incomplete six-disc set that covers, with remastered sound, Kitchens of Distinction's One Little Indian era, from 1988 through 1994. As such, none of the sides from the band's bookend singles -- their self-released debut, their Fierce Panda farewell -- are included. That also means that their welcome 2013 recurrence sensibly isn't part of the program. Excepting disc one, which adds the Elephantine EP like the U.S. edition of Love Is Hell, the first four discs consist of the band's fine-to-excellent studio albums as they were originally released. A handful of the era's B-sides were squeezed out of the filled-to-near-capacity fifth disc, but the best of the secondary lot -- including the heavenly "Glittery Dust" and instrumentals with perfectly descriptive titles like "Three to Beam Up" and "Spacedolphins" -- is present. Disc six pairs the band's BBC session for John Peel with the one they recorded for Mark Radcliffe, both of which were previously unreleased; the earlier recording for Peel is more notable for having been transmitted weeks ahead of The Death of Cool, highlighted by a blistering run through "Blue Pedal." Production-wise, there are some imperfections, such as a brief glitch on "Prize" and an inaccurate track list for the B-sides disc. (The demo version of "Prize," unlisted, is actually track one, while the last listed track, "White Horses," is missing.) Otherwise, the presentation is excellent. It's packaged in the style of a hardcover book with foil blocking, and features comprehensive liner notes from Martin Aston, who profiled the trio during liftoff, and dozens of photos and flyer scans. Since the mid-'90s, numerous theories have no doubt been offered about the band's inability to achieve commercial success equivalent to their artistic achievements, but they put it simply in these pages: "When we wrote anything like a pop hit, we threw it out, or made it more complicated." Whether they lost potential listeners to complexity, a post-punk-odd name, association with a label less hip than 4AD or Creation, or their openly gay front-person and bassist Patrick Fitzgerald, who wrote emotive and poetic songs about love, lust, and pain, this ends all debate regarding their everlasting appeal. These three weren't merely of their time.

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