Tim Kaine’s Musical Obsessions in Rolling Stone: Cornershop

A couple of days ago we got a surprise in Rolling Stone Magazine.

If someone had said at the start of our duty in Rough Trade Shop in Portobello where we would be in 1996 as a band we would not believe it.  Then again, if someone had said that come 2016 we would still be labelled as they UK’s most underrated band, as charming as the label can be, it does much to keep us in our place and sidelined.  It is a very sad tale, a very long Mowgli walk, were it not for those that have supported us continually, and those that had seen fit to promote us, that put a Cornershop cassette album in hands of Soko claiming it would be of comfort in years to come, that named their goldfish Ben & Tjinder, or Tjinder & Ben I forget which, that with family and friends at a Paris gig, were so elated that years later used our music in their one of their film releases, that even when passed away asked for Jullandar Shere to be part of such passing.

The points are that they did such acts of their own volition.  And so now to the Tim Kaine piece which spans the groups whole ground.  It mentions not the B word, the word that also serves to keep us in our place, that takes into account that we work only on our own account mainly through our website, that reminds us that America got us in album form before the UK ever could.  Most importantly, that other people can always express us better than we can:

“I was reading a Rolling Stone in 1997 and they had a review of their album When I Was Born For the 7th Time [by Neva Chonin]. I bought it and then have just proceeded to buy virtually everything they produce. They’re kind of odd. They’ll go years without producing anything. They don’t really tour very much. I’ve never seen them. I’d love to see them, but the number of live shows they do is very small. I don’t know what you’d call their music. It’s a mixture of Indian music and hip-hop and kind of funk music. They’re a very unique band and I really like Tjinder [Singh], the main guy.

I will go on their website on occasion just to see if they are coming over here to perform, but they do so few live shows. They’re kind of perfectionists. They’re really focused. They do what they want when they want it, but they’re working on their own plan and their own time schedule.

The first time I heard that song “Wog” off Woman’s Gotta Have It, I just thought, “These guys are just doing something I have not heard anybody else do.” They do some interesting covers. They’ve done a great cover of a wonderful Kinks song “Waterloo Sunset.” They did a cover of “Norwegian Wood” that’s spectacular – very true to [the original] except that it’s sung in Punjabi. They’ve done some great covers, but their original is always something surprising, always something you haven’t heard before.” Senator Tim Kaine, Democratic candidate for Vice President.

 

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Sleeveface Collection

Just a few sleevefaces from my vinyl collection

A photo posted by Cornershop (@cornershophq) on

A photo posted by Cornershop (@cornershophq) on


The whole family takes part, including the wire fox terrier.

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The new Daft Punk Helmet

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One cheeky Lenny Bruce. #lennybruce #nyc #book #comedian #system #hardback #read

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https://www.soundsapp.co/playlist/trending

The Action Records Story

Just been sent this link to a short film about Action Records, Preston Lancashire. Me and Ben studied in Preston, and met in the doorway of a Preston Polytechnic house we were about to share for our first year. That was 227 Garstang Road. As we ventured in to Preston, it was quite easy to spot many pubs, (and everyone of them a winner), and one independent record shop – Action Records, and our world for a few years was cemented. Action was where you went for the latest releases and where you could fill in the gaps of years in between, especially in the 70’s reggae arena as I remember. The shop was owned and run by Gordon chiefly assisted by Alan, both were formidable characters that took no shit, but once you knew them they were like music professors that the Polytechnic were not brave enough to keep on their staff.

This short film touches on the shop’s history and how it came to be, and still is part of Preston’s backbone. We are very happy about it because it also includes other friends and luminaries such as:

Marcus Parnell our first manager, singer songwriter of the legendary Dandelion Adventure, and no holds barred superstar.

Nick Brown of the Membranes, Clawfist Records Label, and Intoxica Records Shop owner, who was about the only person in London to reply to our demos, not only to encourage us as a group starting out, but setting out the blueprint to develop.

David Chambers, a Local Preston fanzine writer who took it upon himself to play drums in the early years of Cornershop because he was more into us than we were – I also DJ’d with David for a few years, and that brings us to the Star of the Show, Action Records. Time is tight, please pass it on.

The Action Records Story: Chased by Nuns from Levy Park Productions on Vimeo.

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Easy Playsure Playlist

easy playsure playlist

Sarah Vaughan ‘Gingerbread Man’
Cornershop ‘Born Disco; Died Heavy Metal (Version)’
Johnny Harris ‘Stepping Stones’
Henry Mancini & His Orchestra ‘Champagne & Quail’
Trevor Brown & The Maytones ‘Have You Time’
Johnny Harris ‘Paint It Black’
Cornershop ‘The New York Minute’
Sudden Death of Stars ‘Bright Sunday’
The Mike Flowers Pop ‘Light My Fire’
Cornershop ‘Good To Be Back On The Road Home Again’
Michel Magne ‘Une DS Dans Le Ciel’
Os Mutantes ‘Hey Boy’
Las Trilizas De Oro ‘Pochoclo’
Enoch Light & The Light Brigade ‘In The Mood’

They said it couldn’t be done.

We are pleased to release something a little different, for all ages – a Read Along 7″ Vinyl Book, based on the Cornershop song answering the important question:

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“They said it couldn’t be done, that the book industry was as difficult as the music industry, that the children’s section of the book industry was actually the most aggressive of the book genres – to do an illustrated book with a vinyl record was folly, that we would fall off the edge of the world.

Well, we nearly did…until we decided to do it on the principles of E.F. Schumacher’s ‘Small Is Beautiful’ utilizing our trusted art designer Nick Edwards, local east end printing, our brilliant vinyl manufacturing team, and ample play headquarter staff, bypassing book distribution and doing as much by ourselves – the outcome, a limited edition of 1000 hand crafted unique books, chiseled by our record company staff and lovingly presented to you in 7” glory, and classic 45rpm.”
Tjinder Singh

Renowned sleeve artist and illustrator Nick Edwards (4AD, XL) went partying with Tjinder’s quirky lyrics & together they have created a wonderful world of mountains, spacecraft, dragons, Kurt Vonnegut…needless to say this is not your everyday journey.

Give it to children, give to adults, keep one for yourself – everyone needs the happiness of the hippie in their life.  Original, Colourful, Educational, Singh-alongable, Memorable, Funkyful, and of course Collectible.

“Such a great idea & a lovely record” Peter Paphedis

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Order your copy via our Ample Play Records shop

Each book costs £10, £8 when you order 3 or more.

The Brimful of Asha Cocktail recipe

 

Cornershop Brimful of Asha Cocktail - designed by Helen Rawlinson

4 Parts Gin
1 Part Pomegranate Juice
1 Part Vanilla Syrup
1 Part Ginger Beer
5 Pieces Mint Leaf
1 Piece Passionfruit
1 Piece Lime
How to mix this cocktail : Muddle passionfruit, pomegranate juice, vanilla syrup, mint leaf and lime in a chilled highball glass. Fill with crushed ice. Add gin. Stir. Top up with ginger beer.

Illustration by Helen Rawlinson

Download your PDF poster recipe here:  Cornershop – Brimful of Asha Cocktail – designed by Helen Rawlinson

A Springtime PLAYlist

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Selected for you by Tjinder & Ben, the audio equivalent of green shoots, rays of sunshine & pink blossoms. Some punjabi folk, 60’s garage, contemporary psych with The Smoking Trees & Sudden Death of Stars, some Ween, Alabama Shakes, Gap Dream, Jonathan Richman and more.

Cornershop Biography by Professor Kenneth FitzGerald

Cornershop‘s career is defined by defiantly unconventional moves, in its sound and approach to music making. Foremost is a determination stated by Tjinder Singh, “The only thing that all our records have in common is that each one tries to sound utterly different.”

It’s a resolve Cornershop has delivered on since its launch in 1993. They began as a raucous guitar-based agit-pop-group – with a difference. Amidst the thrilling din was Punjabi-sung tracks accompanied by sitar and dholki. Captured first on the EPs In the Days of Ford Cortina and Lock Stock and Double Barrel, Cornershop issued their debut LP, Hold On It Hurts in 1994. Though still rough and direct, the album’s tracks displayed textures exhibiting a broader musical vocabulary and intent.

Amongst Hold On It Hurts‘s admirers was David Byrne, who signed Cornershop in the U.S. to his Luaka Bop label, proclaiming, “We could see that they were headed in a direction that no one else dared travel. And we liked it.” The new transatlantic partnership boosted 1995‘s Woman’s Gotta Have It, one of the most startling and venturesome sophomore albums released by a band. The Asian/western mixes and sonic experiments bloomed and took center stage, notably in the U.K. and U.S. club success 6 A.M. Jullandar Shere.

Cornershop‘s breakthrough 1997 record, When I Was Born for the 7th Time, initiated unprecedented international acclaim. The record is a landmark of sonic invention and adventure, a cornucopia of compelling pan-cultural grooves. The album boasts Cornershop‘s signature track Brimful of Asha, possessing the most unlikely – yet inclusive – refrain in pop music history: “Everyone needs a bosom for a pillow.” It also included notable collaborations with Allen Ginsberg, The Automator, and a cover of The BeatlesNorwegian Wood‘ sung in Punjabi.

When I Was Born for the 7th Time was included in Rolling Stone‘s “Essential Recordings of the 90’s,” and Spin ranked it #34 in their “90 Greatest Albums of the ’90s” – after making it #1 in their “Top 20 Albums Of The Year” (besting, amongst others, Radiohead’s OK Computer). Similar rankings came from Q, NME, Melody Maker, and The Village Voice, amongst others.

Cornershop‘s recorded response to the attention was true to form and its self. Rather than building the Cornershop brand, they adopted the “Clinton” avatar for 1999‘s Disco and the Halfway to Discontent. The gratifying success of When I Was Born seemed irrelevant to where Singh and Ayres (now the core of the group and remaining original members) wanted to go.

The destination was the dance floor. Disco is a laid back yet insistent collection of fizzy grooves containing the hallmark guest vocals, stylistic twists, and a toolbox of genres. It provided further proof (if needed) that Singh‘s sonic imagination seemed limitless. This was especially evident when Cornershop quadruple-downs in 2002 on its next album – and masterpiece to dateHandcream for a Generation.

On the surface, the record follows its predecessor’s path: some band-performances, scratch and sample collages, genre exercises, and cross cultural fusions traversing reggae, funk, and soul. Tracks are longer and more fully realized, starring a diverse guest cast including legendary soul singer Otis Clay, Noel Gallagher and Guigsy of Oasis, and London reggae figures Jack Wilson and Kojak. Handcream achieves its singular status for being the band’s most extensively ambitious and fulfilling of the band’s aesthetic.

After touring in support of Handcream, Tjinder Singh announces a leave of absence to work on a film about the independent music industry. However, in a “creative splurge,” Cornershop releases a double A side single, Topknot/Natch on Rough Trade in 2004, its initial collaboration with the Bubbley Kaur. Where Handcream was expansive and complex, these tracks are stunningly intimate and simple, seamlessly fusing Kaur‘s haunting Punjabi vocals with funk-inspired rhythms.

Cornershop‘s maternity leave ends with the 2009 release of Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast on its own Ample Play label. After a trio of assertively far-reaching records, Judy’s relative simplicity is startling in its own right. Cornershop is here to rock – but in its own inimitable way. If traditional chorus-verse songs with great riffs and hooky melodies are the intent, Judy provides them on every track. After Brimful of Asha, there should be no doubt in Singh ability to pen abiding tunes. Judy proves he can deliver an album’s worth.

Judy is a coup of a flexible and seasoned live-capable band. In its most direct and appealing album, Cornershop stays true to defying expectations and making the move appear radical.

Close after Judy comes the culmination of further collaboration with Bubbley Kaur, the 2010 album Cornershop and the Double O Groove of. At the heart of the record is Tjinder Singh‘s desire to “mix western music with Punjabi folk in a way that wasn’t crude.” “Western music” encompasses a multiplicity of stances and Singh doesn’t skimp, offering ten stylistically dissimilar tracks, unified in accomplishment in framing Bubbley Kaur‘s mellifluous melodies.

The recent postDouble ‘O’ step was the May 2011 launch of Ample Play‘s The Singhles Club, a six-tracks-for a 6 pound subscription service. The project offers limited edition outtakes “reimagining the collectable single in a digital format with special added content; a digital popadom.” It’s a novel approach to distribution that like the music it offers, abounds in adventure and invention. With Cornershop, the only certainty is that something distinctly new is on the way.

Kenneth FitzGerald

Associate Professor of Art

Old Dominion University, Norfolk Virginia USA

Author, Volume: Writings on Graphic Design, Music, Art, and Culture (Princeton Architectural Press)