As time goes by the trade off between being known for one song to the detriment of the rest of our catalogue seems like a fake news item that started afore this century, and being called “the most underrated group in Britain” suddenly takes on some charm. Then articles like this one in The Guardian appear, and all is rosey again. Radiohead fans that deny When I Was Born was ever Spin Magazines number 1 in 1997 can do one, and a little balance and truth is back again, many thanks Guy Smith.
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.
‘The Roll Off Characteristics (of History in the Making)‘ is a track from Cornershop‘s Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast album. When American film-maker Prashant Bhargava got in touch with us, he had used our track Topknot featuring Bubbley Kaur as the promo video for his film Patang. Looking at the footage we were impressed by the techniques – bright Fuji Color, blur outs, uneven and downright abstract & thought it a love marriage with the music. The footage also became the official video for the song, and Prashant went on to release the film to critical acclaim in 2012.
When the parents of such a love marriage talked to each other we got on so well that we asked if he had any unused footage from the film to do a video for ‘The Roll Off Characteristics of History in the Making.’ He provided wedding day footage of an actual wedding with Sgt Sardar’s Hearts Club Street Band. We consider the song to be a reflection of how the world has gone in terms of such events as middle-eastern wars being a ‘technical plip-plop’ and ‘honeycomb we are breaking’ being a referendum vote to exit from Europe.
This video used to be up on YouTube but somehow got corrupted – we blame no one, but are sure glad to have it up and running again.
On a very sad note, as we have written about before, Prashant suddenly passed away whilst working in New York. Even more a reason to celebrate the marriage.
You can read about Prashanthere, find out about his Patang film here and order yourself a copy of ‘Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast‘ on vinyl, on CD, or listen to it on Spotify.
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 EnglishDay 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!”
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.
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.