RIPPING BADGERS CDs (Part 3): CORNERSHOP

Ripping Badgers CDs
The nearly finished A to Z Charity Shop CD Challenge #3

Handcream For A Generation (1988, Go! Discs)
Bought from Oxfam, Teignmouth for £1.99

I’ve mentioned before the two Indian Brothers who moved into the house next door to my Dad when I was 14. The two brothers (who I am going to call Bill and Bob) later bought the small newsagents next door to the 24-hour garage, where I worked for them for four years on and off. At the time Bill was 23 and Bob was 21. I’m only half-joking when I say that within six months of Bill and Bob owning it, the newsagents became a front for a medium-sized criminal enterprise.

I lost count of the number of random cousins that would turn up at the shop at around 7am on a Thursday morning carrying black bin bags and then leave ten minutes later without the bin bag. Bob the younger of the brothers would then disappear into the storeroom attached to the end of the shop and come back a few minutes later, often wearing a new watch or a new piece of jewellery.

I also lost count of the amount of time Bill – the older, bigger, more muscular brother, would suddenly get a call to the shop phone and would have to dash off to the ‘Cash and Carry’ despite it being 6.30am on a Sunday and the Cash and Carry was shut for at least another three hours He would come back two hours later, in different clothes, and sporting bruised knuckles.

On New Years Day 1993 I found out why you didn’t mess with them (I mean I didn’t anyway). I arrived for work around 7am, having come direct from OPG’s house – I was slightly hungover. Bill was the only brother there and he was pretty hungover. Around eight, Bill said he was ‘popping next door for breakfast’. He said he would be five minutes.

Two minutes later, a lad called Gavin entered the store. I knew Gavin. Sort of. He lived in the children’s home around the corner from the shop. Gavin was 16 and a testosterone fuelled ball of evil. He strolled up to the counter and asked me for Ten Benson and Hedges, which I gave him. He then stood down by the magazines and for the next ten minutes he stood there leafing through the top-shelf magazines. It slowly dawned on me that something was going on, Gavin had started making a small pile of magazines. It was clear he was going to make a run for it with the mags.

I managed to position myself between Gavin and the door and as predicted he turned to ran towards the door. Sadly for me, Gavin left his right hand free and he whacked me hard and fast once to the stomach. Which winded me and made me heave up about two pints of lasts night cider.

Sadly for Gavin, he ran straight into the looming figure of Bill, who despite being way more hungover than me, didn’t collapse to the floor after a whack in the belly. I remember Bill grabbing Gavin by the arm and throwing him back into the shop like he was box of biscuits.

Five minutes later, Gavin was in sitting in the back of the shop sobbing, he was unhurt. Bob had arrived with three other lads. Bob looked at me, chucked me a copy of the Mirror and told me to deliver it to Rami’s dad. Rami lived a good thirty-minute walk away. Rami was also one of three guys who turned up with Bob.

An hour later I walked back into the shop. Bill was alone and I asked him what had happened. He looked at me and smiled. I asked again. This is as much of the conversation as I can remember.

“Nothing” he said with a laugh. “The five of us shut the shop, pulled the blinds down and just stood there in silence, arms folded, every now and again Rami would shout something in Punjabi at him. Usually words like ‘Potato’ or ‘chocolate sauce’, we don’t speak much Punjabi really”.

I looked at him, not sure if I believed him or not. Bill went on, taking a huge drag on the cigarette he’d produced from somewhere.

“After about ten minutes Bob and the other three left, leaving just me. I’m the biggest you see. He just kept telling me how sorry he was. So I thought, here’s a good idea. I told him that if he was really sorry he could work for me until he’s paid back the value of what he tried to nick”.

And with that Bill got up and walked to the back of the shop and opened the door. There out the back was Gavin, on New Years Day in the freezing cold, pulling up stinging nettles from the patch of ground between the shop and the fence belonging to the garage.

“We were never to going to hurt him, he’s a kid. So I taught him some respect.”

Bob is now a taxi driver in Chatham. He and his brother sold the shop in 2004. In 2010 a Domino’s Pizza moved into the premises. Bill, moved to Chennai in India in 2006, where he married and now owns a herb farm. Not that type of ‘herb’.

All of which chin-stroking and message giving brings us to the third CD in the nearly finished charity shop challenge, which is of course ‘Handcream For A Generation’, the fourth studio album by Cornershop, and I apologise for the horrific stereotype around Cornershops that I have heavily relied upon above.

‘Handcream… is the album that followed the all-conquering Britpop squashing ‘When I Was Born for the Seventh Time’. It is a huge melting pot of different musical ideas, sounds and blends. Something which we came to expect from Cornershop, around this time. Certainly, it’s a long way from their early punky gigs in which guitars were out of tune, and barely played correctly.

This album goes starts with funky soul and introduces a children’s choir by track two.

mp3: Staging the Plaguing of the Raised Platform – Cornershop

Then before you get halfway you’ve been taken through deep house, reggae, dub and a little bit of indie rock. At times Cornershop appear to be trying to sound like ‘Homework’ era Daft Punk. Trying and succeeding if you ask me. I mean who else apart from Daft Punk could intersperse snippets from an in-flight attendant into a piece of music and make it work?

mp3 – London Radar – Cornershop

The band I think were always expected to produce ‘Brimful of Asha’ part two, a big full on anthem with a sing a long chorus that earns them loads of radio play and all that. But this is Cornershop and they don’t do that.
I suppose there is always this one. (JC interjects…..the one that pays tribute to T.Rex and glam-rock)

mp3: – Lessons Learned from Rocky I to Rocky III – Cornershop

The second half of the album is slightly more psychedelic than the first and no more so than ‘Spectral Mornings’. In which Noel Gallagher is drafted in to channel his inner George Harrison, on a fourteen minute overblown sitar inspired wig out (its easily seven minutes too long). A song that I always expect to see featured on one of the ‘Mondays Long Song’ series that run concurrently across various blogs at the moment.

mp3: Spectral Mornings – Cornershop

I only own two Cornershop albums, the two I have mentioned on this piece. My opinion on them changes on a regular basis. At times I think ‘Handcream…’ is way too clever for its own good, and tracks like ‘Spectral Mornings’ are smug and cumbersome. Today when I’ve spun this in the background whilst writing I think it’s a work of genius, a kind of world music disco intended to make us dance, think and smile.

Apart from ‘Spectral Mornings’ that’s still seven minutes too long.

SWC

7 thoughts on “RIPPING BADGERS CDs (Part 3): CORNERSHOP

  1. it dawned on me last summer that england is a garden had become something of a go-to album at reeves towers during the first lockdown. when all this blows over, i will always have coronership …i mean cornershop to remind me. great times! great post!

  2. This is exactly the kind of content I crave. That was a brilliant read. Loved the story, the rough moral high ground and the band. Lessons Learned is such an anthem for me. I love that track. Cornershop are something of a National Treasure in my ever so ‘umble opinion.

  3. I was living in Spain when this came out and its genius multicultural genre-hopping wit and invention were the only things that made me briefly miss the UK. National treasures, as steve points out.
    Born For the 7th Time was pretty great, this was better, Judy Sucks A Lemon and England Is A Garden are equally sublime, although it is occasionally baffling to figure out what the lyrics are referencing.

  4. Quality post, SWC. Like Chaval says, it’s sometimes hard to follow what Cornershop are on about but the sound is usually fantastic. ‘Who Fingered Rock ‘n Roll’ is still my favorite song by the band and it came out years and years after the ones posted here.

  5. Great story, SWC. Working in my parent’s shop as a teen, experiences of the local criminal underworld and terrorising would-be shoplifters in the back room were few and far between. But I do share Badger’s experience of picking up the Cornershop in a charity shop for about the same price. I frequently love it more than “When I Was Born For The 7th Time”, and really need to catch up with their most recent albums. You’re right about Spectral Mornings, though.

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