Another one of those…..’god almighty, where has the time gone?’ moments.
It’s been more than 25 years since Brimful of Asha was released. It was the twelfth single/EP from Cornershop in what had been am occasionally critically acclaimed if commercially-successful free career that had begun some four years earlier.
It was Jacques the Kipper who introduced me to the band thanks to him including songs of theirs on compilation tapes. I first heard Brimful of Asha when it was played on Radio 1 of an evening….most likely by Jo Whiley or Steve Lamacq on the Evening Session show. I was taken immediately by its catchy chorus over what sounded suspiciously like a Jonathan Richman tune (OK….a Velvet Underground tune!!) and went out to track it down the following day. It was available across two separate CDs, with a deal available if both were bought together. My purchase may have helped the song propel Cornershop into the lower echelons of the charts for the first ever time, as the single reached #60 at the end of August 1997.
For those not aware, the song is a tribute to Asha Bhosle, one of the most popular and influential singers in Hindi cinema who is reckoned to have recorded more than 12,000 songs in her career. Her task was usually to act as the playback singer for the actress who was actually lip-syncing as the cameras rolled. Two other very famous playback singers – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi – also get name checked in the lyric.
Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) must have heard the Mucho Macho Bolan Boogie Mix and had a lightbulb moment, as it led to him approaching Cornershop with the suggestion of giving the remix treatment to Brimful of Asha by speeding it up and changing it slightly to a higher key.
The remix was released six months after the original version. It entered the charts at #1. To be fair to all involved, anyone buying the CD single would have found the previously released ‘short’ version of the song as its opening track, with two versions of the remix being the second and fourth offerings:-
Sandwiched in-between was around 110 seconds of electronic noise:-
mp3: Cornershop – U47’s
The fact that Sleep On The Left Side, the follow-up 45 to the remix, reached #23 in May 1998 means that the one-hit-wonder label cannot really be attached to Cornershop, but it’s fair to say that the vast majority of people will know nothing beyond the remix. Which is a shame, as they have made a lot of great music over the years.