We asked Kitchens of Distinction’s lead man Patrick Fitzgerald to compile a mixtape of what he’s been listening to. Here’s Patrick to take you through his superb collection, track by track.
“This is some of the music that was playing in our house, in the car, and in the studio during the writing, recording, and mixing of “Folly” (2011-2013)
Arnold Bax – ‘Tintagel’
Driving to work in the snow listening to this golden gem. The heroic horns make me think of Hollywood helicopter shots over ocean-pounded islands. I rarely think to use horns, but this piece reminded me that I should. The end of ‘No Longer Elastic’ misquotes a solo trumpet from the end of the “Strange Free World” song ‘Under the Sky, Inside the Sea’. I now wish I’d made the horn section even louder – as loud as on this majestic piece by Bax.
Dmitri Shostakovich – ‘5th Symphony: Largo’
This was viewed at the time of the premiere as an apology to the state given its more formal nature, with Shostakovich turning away from his radical 4th Symphony which got him into a lot of trouble. Bollocks, says me. It’s profoundly beautiful, angry, startling. I first heard this sitting in the Rudolfinum in Prague and my mind was completely blown. Classical music at last entered my world in a BIG way. The third slow movement – Largo – with rising octaves that seem to reach up to the sky and then fall away, was the part that gripped me first. I hear the opening chords of the 1st movement, reminiscent of Beethoven’s 5th, and I’m lost. Orchestral concerts work on my head in a way that rock shows rarely do these days.
Richard Strauss – ‘Four Last Songs’ – sung by Gundula Janowitz
Being sick in hospital, half asleep, too ill, too tired, thinking death was around the corner, with this soothing soundtrack of the four best songs ever written, probably. Here’s ‘Im Abendrot’ (At Sunset) but really I’d be happy with any of them. Strauss and Mahler and Shostakovich would suffice for the rest of my life.
Benjamin Britten – ‘Les Illuminations’ – sung by Heather Harper
I prefer the soprano version to the tenor one. The song cycle seems to suit a woman’s voice better. As in most things in his life, Britten is unafraid, in this instance to set Rimbaud’s crazed poetry to his angular music. This small moment in particular – ‘Phrase’ – always works for me.
Scott Walker – ‘Farmer in The City’
I wrote ‘No Longer Elastic’ for Scott to sing, if he was still interested in tonal music. But he isn’t and that’s fine. If I could sing how I wanted to sing I’d sing like him. The ‘middle 8’ – which is a crass way of drawing attention to the bit near the end of this song – where the strings rise and consume. That bit. I want that bit, again and again.
Mercury Rev – ‘Holes’
I saw their early shows when they had David Baker singing. Chaotic psychedelic affairs, fantastic and scary. Then along came “Deserter’s Songs” and this opening song floored me. The line ‘bands, those funny little plans, that never work quite right’ always gets to me. Helium vocal, orchestration fused with chamberlins and mellotrons, bowed saw, operatic singing, a great ambitious record. A good reminder to stretch ourselves whilst we were recording.
Patti Smith – ‘Beneath the Southern Cross’
Driving to work listening to the demos of what has become ‘Folly’, singing along to the instrumentals like a lunatic trying to get the tune and words written. I also sing like a lunatic along to this, my favourite Patti Smith song. She has become a sage now hasn’t she? Half of this world, and half a medium to the spirit world of Beat Poets, Brontës and Gaia.
PJ Harvey – ‘All and Everyone’
I love the album that this is from. This particular song of death in wartime is my favourite.
Siouxsie and the Banshees – ‘Night Shift’
The song ‘Extravagance’ is definitely partially inspired by this extraordinary band. When we lived in rural Ireland, my partner and I played “juju” loud on dark howling nights, the wind/hail/rain drowning out our screeches. Also PJ Harvey’s “Is this Desire?” – great storm records.
David Bowie – ‘Young Americans’
I would dance to this each time it was played at Duckie, my favourite club when I lived in London in the 1990s. Probably the last club I went to, or would ever consider going to, made for people like me. Nearly my favourite Bowie song. The album kept me fascinated age 12, staring at the record sleeve for hour after hour. I was living in Canada at the time and Bowie’s ‘Fame’ was always on the radio. It sounded like music from another planet. With girly hair and attitude. It spoke deeply to my soul but sadly not to my wardrobe.
The Specials – ‘Ghost Town’
The song ‘Tiny Moments, Tiny Omens’ is based on a conversation between playwright Dennis Potter and Melvyn Bragg, in which he describes how he feels given his impending death, how vivid the apple blossom is, as he swigs from his morphine bottle. I’ve felt so ill in recent years that I thought death was coming, cloaked, bony hand outstretched, pulling me under. The moments that came back to me were from 1981, though I’m not sure why. ‘Ghost Town’ was the bleakest song for bleak Thatcher times and it was Number One. It felt like the whole country was broody, that this state of affairs could not carry on. But the country voted for her twice again, so clearly I was wrong about that. We saw The Specials play recently, and what an amazing sneer they give to their sad angry songs. And The Special AKA – wasn’t ‘War Crimes’ the strangest record? Kitchens were on tour when Nelson Mandela was released from prison. We were playing a show in Lausanne, on the shores of Lake Geneva, after a horrible European tour. After our set the news came out of his release and the dance floor erupted as ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ came on. Thatcher was complicit in his incarceration and for the continuation of apartheid. Yeah, let’s build a fucking statue of her.
Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – ‘My Little Yellow Bird’
From their record of songs by The Everly Brothers: “What The Brothers Sang”. Probably my most played record this year. Stunning.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – ‘And No More Shall We Part’
This is from my favourite Nick Cave record: expansive, blistering, gothic, feline. The string parts and the backing singing of the McGarrigle sisters throughout the album really make it special. If I’d had the nerve I’d have asked him to sing our song ‘The Most Beautiful Day’. Imagine his menacing growl on that. Unsettling, like dark approaching clouds when you’re too far along the beach to get home safely.
Fingersnap – ‘The Bishop of New Hampshire’
This stirring song is a reminder that there is still stuff to say, that freedom is a hard won, and precarious thing that could slide back into it’s strait jacket quickly enough. And it’s a beautiful song. David McAlmont, my ally in the maze world of Muzic Biz, has The Voice. The one the BBC keep trying to find.
The Bitter Springs – ‘Ken’
I like writing biographical songs, like ‘Extravagance’ and the stephenhero song ‘oh, frank’. Versions of truths. Many folk have done marvellous things that need celebrating in song. This wonderful song, by a band that used to support Kitchens on tour, marks the feuding relationship between playwright Joe Orton and his boyfriend Kenneth Halliwell. They had an extraordinary life together, well documented in John Lahr’s book/film ‘Prick Up Your Ears’. Their defacing of library books from Islington’s Essex Road Library, for which they served prison time, is one of the great Situationist acts. In the end Ken beat out Joe’s brains with a hammer and then took an overdose. The odd paths of love.
R.E.M. – ‘We All Go Back To Where We Belong’
Their last song and as good as anything they wrote. The Kirsten Dunst video for this is really touching. One of the few bands that have sound-tracked my life. It’s been fascinating watching the changes, the journeys. Always working, always making records, great and not so great, always playing, and then suddenly gone. I would love to have had Michael Stipe sing Oak Tree. He’d have made a great job of it. And probably got a good harmony bit to go over part of the chorus.
Frank O’Hara – ‘Having a Coke with You’
I’m amazed to find spoken word on Spotify. This is my favourite poet reading one of my favourite poems of his. This is romance on a grand scale. Mush dressed in sophisticated charm. Who wouldn’t fall for these seductive lines?
Perfume Genius – ‘All Waters’
Perfume Genius is Mike Hadreas. I really liked his record “Put Your Back N 2 It” and I love this song in particular for its airy tune and forthright lyric about imagining a time when he can walk hand in hand with his male lover without fear, threat or reprisal. Really really free.”
A brilliant listen, we hope you agree. Thanks Patrick.