hip hip hooray – ‘What Did the Hippie Have in His Bag?’ workshop in France

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ollie got in touch with us to buy, and asked for additional material relating to the song/book/vinyl ‘What Did The Hippie Have In His Bag?’ to create a lesson for his children’s school. Ollie hailed from my old alma mater of Preston, so we were happily surprised that this lesson/workshop was for a French school. It sounds like it went tip-top, this is how he describes the situation in his own words:

“Being a massive Cornershop fan (and indeed owning our own Cornershop in Cornwall), whilst now living in Southern France, I was approached to donate some time and ideas for an English Day at our children’s Bilingual school, the perfect opportunity to bring my passion for music and art presented itself.

What Did The Hippie have In His Bag?‘ immediately sprung to mind as lending itself perfectly to the occasion. It’s an undeniably funky toe tapper of a tune, very English and my kids love it (even Nancy who, just turned three recently, knows the words and will often insert them into everyday life, e.g. Double days and bubble gum, what did Max and Nancy eat for lunch?…….it’s unknown!)  The idea to instill a bit of Cornershop wisdom and humour into the French kids learning- irresistible, perhaps a little left field, maybe too bonkersly British but a challenge worth undertaking.

The kids and I knocked up a Hippie’s bag and contents over a long French Bank Holiday weekend. A couple of additions were made to tailor the story for the English Hippie in a French environment (Marmite and Curly Wurleys) and we were good to go.

Being double rubbish at French didn’t make the workshop an easy prospect but undaunted and with a Hippie bag full of enthusiasm (and Curley Wurleys) and help from Tjinder and the brilliant head teachers we were off. “OK so you all going to join in?” Yeaaaah

We played ‘Hippie’ through before reading the book with the help of props and interpretation. The repetition of the title with the children backing is great for worming its way into your head and making it irresistible for singing along to. I tried to focus on words that are similar in French and English like boobley goom, marmalade, comprehend, espace, notre sac and hearing fifteen French voices pronouncing squelch (Mirandaesque – squelch, nice word squelch) is wonderful.

We finished by playing the video and the distribution of English confectionary. Six groups of kids ranging from eight to eleven passed through and hopefully left a little wiser to the world of pure imaginative, very British, eccentric, funky silliness. They certainly gamely played along and I’d like to think there’s a place in their hearts for the Hippie and his bag.

I’m already planning on doing it again soon with the addition of percussion and aimed at younger children too…….watch this space!

Now that we’ve climbed the mountain, the mountain will never seem the same again!”

 Words and pictures by Ollie Hutchinson

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BUY THE VINYL/BOOK FROM OUR SHOP

 

Cornershop Video Showcase at Cine East & Winterwell Festival Headline 1 July 2012

CORNERSHOP & AMPLE PLAY VIDEO SHOWCASE AT CINE EAST

We have been invited to part in Cine East on 1 July 2012. All our videos from the last year, as well as the artists we are releasing through our label Ample Play, will be shown on a on a big screen at a location in the East End of London.

A longer programme with all the videos from the last three albums will be shown at a location to be confirmed.  Please email us at info (at) cornershop.com for for exact screening times & locations.

CINE-EAST: 1000 films, 100 venues, 1 celebratory day of completely free cinema. www.eastendfilmfestival.com

With films for young and old from every corner of the globe, join us as we blanket every cinema, bar, cafe, nook and cranny of london’s East End with documentaries, dramas, animations, live music, talks, film clubs, competitions…. In fact all things film and all this free.

WINTERWELL FESTIVAL HEADLINE

A chance to see ‘What Did the Hippie Have in his Bag?’ performed live. An eclectic range of music, good people and fancy dress is what this festival has always been about, since starting in 2007. Winterwell offers a truly intimate party experience, attracting a discerning and sophisticated crowd of people who prefer ‘glamping’ to camping.  With only 1500 guests there is no danger of losing your friends, tent or sanity as is often the case at larger, more chaotic festivals, and the certainty of spending a weekend with like-minded people.

WHERE: Heart of the Cotswolds, a few miles from Cirencester

Headlining Sunday 1 July – WEBSITE: www.winterwell.co.uk

The Sufis LP by The SUFIS

The Sufis longplaying vinyl album by The SUFIS Reviewed By The Active Listener

“Simply put, The Sufi’s self titled debut is so brilliant that I’m fairly certain that I can’t formulate the words to do it justice. I will however give it a go.

Much like fellow Tennessee The Paperhead, the Sufis have an obvious fascination with the English music scene of the mid to late sixties.

Where the Paperhead evoke the sounds of more cult figures like July and the Idle Race, the Sufis seem to have set their sights much higher, and come across like a cross between the Beatles at their most mustachioed and Pink Floyd circa Arnold Layne.

Evocative, but never derivative, they channel their influences into concise and adventurous psychedelic pop tunes, the majority of which could have been hits in 1967 and with a little luck might be now.

Tjinder Singh from Cornershop spotted their promise right away and signed them to his Ample Play label, who are responsible for this attractive vinyl release.

“Sri Sai Flora”  is the track which has been serviced to media first, and is a good indicator of what to expect from their full length ; supple McCartneyesque basswork, drums which sound like they’re struggling to catch up ala Ringo and dreamy harmonized vocals with a melody to kill for.

Elsewhere there’s plenty of trippy Rick Wright style organ work, vocals run through oscilators and all manner of vintage sounding studio trickery – all married to perfect lysergic pop tunes, with the odd instrumental freakout thrown in for good measure.

Splendid stuff, and essential for those with a love of that innocent U.K sound that the Americans only now seem to be coming to grips with.”

Brimful Of Asha meaning explained

Many people always ask us to translate songs, especially the foreign language ones.

Here is a good explanation of Brimful, most of which we agree with:

Brimful of Asha, Explained

By splitpeasoup in Culture
Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 07:54:20 AM EST
Tags: Music (all tags)


Cornershop‘s “Brimful of Asha” is one of those songs that are simultaneously poppy and deeply meaningful. Unfortunately the wealth of meaning in the lyrics may not be readily apparent to most non-desis, or for that matter, to many desis either.

At the risk of diminishing the enjoyment of those who do understand the somewhat esoteric message, this essay attempts to make it clear enough for anybody to appreciate. In the process we’ll be touching on Indian culture in general and specifically on that great opiate of the Indian masses, the movie industry.

Cornershop is an East-West fusion pop-rock group. The East part comes from Tjinder Singh, who grew up in England but is of Punjabi origin. Tjinder strongly identifies with his Indian heritage; the group’s name itself derives from a play on the stereotype of the Indian/Pakistani street-corner grocery store clerk.

“Brimful of Asha” came out in 1997. With its catchy refrain it became a hit on US radio, as well as in Cornershop’s native UK.

To understand the song, one must understand the Indian movie industry. Ever since cinema was introduced to India, most commercial movies have been heavy, sweet, musical productions. The song-and-dance interludes are not incidentals, but staples, and often are what make or break a movie. An American friend of mine was under the impression that singing was a necessary skill for Indian actors and actresses! Actually, the singing is almost always done by background singers. The background singers, of course, are not required to possess charisma or looks, and in fact in early times, care was taken to not expose them in the media, to preserve the romantic association with their voices in the minds of the moviegoing public.

Why is all this so important? Right from the beginning, movies took over the hearts and lives of common Indians in a manner that nothing has done before or since. The happiness, the tragedy, the passionate and tender love, and the conflict are all designed to speak to the melodrama-loving Indian heart. As Hindi grew more popular, Hindi movies took over the whole country. The heart of the Hindi film industry in Bombay, whimsically nicknamed Bollywood, eventually became a force larger than the one it was named after. The songs are no exception, and over the last sixty years or so filmi music, as it is called, has become by far the most popular kind in India.

Two female background singers perhaps distinguish themselves from the rest in sheer prolificness and popularity: Asha Bhonsle and Lata Mangeshkar. The two, as it happens, are sisters, and recently there has been much focus on their professional and sibling rivalry. At any rate, their singing formed the emotional soundtrack of India, as it were, for many years.

That, in essence, is what “Brimful of Asha” is all about.

Here are the lyrics, with notes:

There’s dancing behind movie scenes,
Behind those movie screens – saddi rani.

Saddi rani – “our queen”, in Punjabi.

She’s the one that keeps the dream alive,
From the morning, past the evening, till the end of the light.

Brimful of Asha on the forty-five.
Well, it’s a brimful of Asha on the forty-five. (x2)

‘Asha’ is a pun. It refers to Asha Bhosle, but the word also means “hope”. What does “hope” signify in this context? The movies and songs are in many ways a fantasy of something better than people’s own lives. For instance, Indian youth whose overbearing parents would never permit them to marry those they fall in love with may yet indulge themselves in the romances they see onscreen and hear about in these ballads. The “45”, for you of the CD player generation, is the 45 revolutions-per-minute record player.

Incidentally, the word ‘Asha’ is normally pronounced with both ‘a’s long, as in ‘father’. Tjinder, with his British accent, pronounces it like “Asher”, touchingly making the song both more and less genuine at the same time. As a result the refrain often gets misheard, sometimes in quite hilarious ways.

And singing
Illuminate the main streets and the cinema aisles.
We don’t care about no government warning,
About the promotion of the simple life and the dams they are building.

What is he talking about? The movies and songs are an escape: they are what allow people to forget important concerns, at least for a while. The reference to dams might need a bit of explanation. In India, these often are unnecessarily huge and costly projects that are designed that way with the aim of being points of prestige, and besides, for lining the pockets of politicians and contractors. They displace thousands of people and impact the environment in massive ways. The project currently approved on the Narmada is one present-day example. So these are issues that people should be worried about.

But this escapism is not presented as being bad. The spirit of the song is that movie fantasy is a lovely and comfortable thing.

Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow, everybody needs a bosom, (x3)

Isn’t that a beautiful line? But the last one’s even better:

Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow, mine’s on the forty-five.

To me, at least, that’s poetry.

Mohammed Rafi – forty-five. Lata Mangeshkar – forty-five.
Solid state radio – forty-five. Ferguson Mono – forty-five.
Non public – forty-five.
Jacques Dutronc and the Bolan Boogies …
The Heavy Hitters and the chi-chi music …
All Indian radio – forty-five. Two in ones – forty-five.
Ovvo records – forty-five. Trojan records – forty-five.

These are historic icons of filmi and pop music. Rafi and Mangeshkar are other background singers. Solid state radio is self-explanatory. All-India Radio is the one, public radio station that existed all the decades before privatized radio stations and FM came to India. Two-in-ones are radio-cum-casette players. I confess the other references are strange to me.

7-7,000 piece orchestra set,

Huge orchestras are intrinsic to filmi music. Of course 7000 is a little hyperbolic.

Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow; mine’s on the RPM…
(fadeout)

Why do I find this song so remarkable? Most people, when talking of Indian culture, tend to make statements which fall in two categories. The first consists of glorifications of classical Indian culture, philosophy, tradition, and so forth. The second consists of lamentations about the corruption, poverty, dirt, and how the whole country is going to the dogs.

It is relatively unusual for someone to touch on the spirit of the ornery hard-bitten yet cheerful street-corner Indian, the one who always has to worry about the expenses for next month but yet decides on an impulse to splurge on hot samosas. Cornershop manages to celebrate and showcase this joie de vivre, and to do so with skill and sensitivity, and for this, they deserve to be congratulated.

Getting People Over the Beatles

Getting People Over the Beatles: A Series Examining the Greats of British (and UK) Pop Music – Wonders in the Dark Magazine

USA artwork of the When I Was Born For The 7th Time

And today’s final selection is a bit of an obscure oddball representing how large, and thus wide the scope of BritPop became in such a short time (purists of the genre consider it to have only existed from late 1994 to sometime in 1998). Looking over the general consensus of BritPop there becomes a rather strict look and ideology to what it is, and as an American I can only say that the version we got was even more regimented then the one that was actually happening in the mid-1990s. But when one looks even just a little closer does the wealth of ideas (culturally, socially, and politically), and how radical many of them were begins to accurately take shape. Then, looking even closer does one start to find genuine different bands, on just aesthetics alone, as it’s way too easy (and incorrect) to reduce BritPop to ‘music just for laddish men’ created by said ‘laddish’ men.

Perhaps the most interesting of these bands was Cornershop. Culturally they represented the large Indian population of England, with even their name being derived from a racist connotation about their culture owning a perceived abundance of 7-11 like corner market shops. It was a tongue in cheek in-your-face account of their supposed place in British culture. In short, a perfectly quick representation of their ironic, satiric, and often politically refreshing multi-culturally embracing music.

They started with two EP’s (now both collected on the Elvis Sex Change [1993] disc), that showed the band in looser, rawer state. There’s plenty of lo-fi pop, but there is sonic noise experimentation too. From there 1994’s Hold On It Hurts (also stripped down indie meets leftist post-punk), and Woman’s Gotta Have It from 1995 (the first album where their unique sound – later called Hindi-pop – began to really take shape. They’re almost reclaiming the sitar, an Indian instrument, from the Anglos [most notably the Beatles] back to Indians and with it a symbol of their culture as a whole) began to show the multifaceted nature of Tjinder Singh‘s sly brilliance.

But it’s all a definite precursor to the main course, 1997’s stunning When I Was Born for the 7th Time. It’s an album that most here have probably heard, but were never aware of, more then a testament to easy hypnotic quality (plus ‘Brimful of Asha‘ was a surprise alt-hit of 1997, bringing them even if just for a second to the level of say an English Beck. The tunes are as interesting and varied, for this culture what Odelay was for American alt-pop in there collage like qualities). There are plenty of beat laden instrumentals where all their styles mix; there’s indian sitars, funk guitars, trip-hop and trance beats, essentially it’s a world music BritPop record, highly original, but never a novelty. It’s always grounded in a melodic sense of golden, glorious Pop.

Sure, ‘Brimful of Asha‘ was the hit (and it’s no wonder it’s one of the great songs of its era, or any era for that matter), but then there’s the smooth bass melody of ‘Candyman‘ (which us Americans will know from a recent LeBron Nike commercial), the homemade hip-hop of ‘State Troopers‘, ‘Good Shit‘ is the upwards surge of late 90’s optimism (and again, us Americans will know it from the Target ad), the lead track accordion whimsy of ‘Sleep On the Left Side‘ which gives ‘Asha‘ a run for the best single from the album, ‘Good to Be on the Road Back Home‘ is as authentic in the English rural style as anything Ronnie Lane ever offered, and finally there’s the cover of the definitive sitar Pop song of all time, the Beatles ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)‘ which, in their native language, just soars to transcendency.

From there they’d release three more critically acclaimed albums (all are highly recommended; Handcream for a Generation [2002] has the added BritPop boost of featuring Noel Gallagher on a track or two, Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast [2009] was a triumphant needed return what with the political climate what it was in the late 2000’s and it’s a glam rocker to boot, and 2011’s Cornershop and the Double ‘O’ Groove Of was yet another redefining of a band always looking to redefine not only themselves and their form [pop music] but the larger culture around them), and I must say, in a perfect world this Series wouldn’t need to exist for pop fans to listen to this type of stuff. ‘Everyone needs a buxom for a pillow’, my thoughts exactly. Just essential.

Posted in author Jamie Uhler, Getting Over the Beatles – Wonders in the Dark Magazine

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track5 the Singhles Club w Izzy Lindqwister

We are coming to the end of the limited edition Singhles Club, and track 5 is Who’s Gonna Lite It Up featuring Izzy Lindqwister. Izzy has now relocated to Paris, and Tjinder has done a few collaborations with her. When you get tweets describing it like this: “Really hot new “Singhles” track from @CornershopHQ. It’s like Zakir Hussain meets The Black Angels” by A. Myers, well no-one could have described it better.

The accompanying artwork or digital popadom is a dress your own doll with Camille Walala, who’s already lit a few things in the clothes designing area and is set spread out doing more things, such as furniture as our old friend Jean Charles Etienne showed us last night. We commend it all to the house, and if you have not joined the Singhles Club, it gives you 6 exclusive tracks and 6 special digital popadoms, direct from the band themselves, you may do so here

Who’s Gonna Lite It Up Cornershop ft Izzy Lindqwister by cornershop