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

30, 20, 10 (Part 11)

Last time out, the indie charts had a club hit at #1 on 1 February 1988.  The next three weeks saw Sugarcubes and Kylie Minogue reach the pinnacle before this began a four-week reign on top:-

1 March 1988 : mp3 : Bomb The Bass – Beat Dis

Bomb The Bass was a name adopted by producer Tim Simenon and this massive hit, which also reached #2 in the main singles chart, was another wonderful and mind-blowing example of a 45 consisting of samples including, among others, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Prince and Public Enemy along with snatches of dialogue from various films and TV programmes.

Jumping ahead ten years, and Oasis had been followed successively to the top by Aaron Carter and Backstreet Boys, but thankfully a song on Wiija Records, albeit a re-released remix, saves the day for us music fans:-

1 March 1998 : mp3 : Cornershop – Brimful of Asha (Norman Cook Remix)

This also provided Cornershop with a very unexpected #1 in the singles chat and brought the parent album When I Was Born For The 7th Time to a wider audience, the majority of whom would likely have been bemused (which is why you see it in loads of charity shops!!)

And finally, what were the indie-kids buying a decade ago? It was still Adele with Chasing Pavements coming to end of a five-week reign.

JC

NEITHER A HIT NOR A FLOP

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Having got to #1 with the Norman Cook remix of Brimful Of Asha back in early 1998 it looked as if Cornershop had a deserved profile after years of toiling in obscurity.

If there was any justice in the world, then this, one of a number of outstanding tracks from the LP When I Was Born For The 7th Time, would have also crashed high into the charts.

Sadly, Sleep On The Left Side stalled at #23, which in my books is enough to keep the band away from those that are listed as ‘one-hit wonders’, but proof that the record-buying public would only embrace the band’s unique mix of indie, dance and Asian music if someone famous like Fatboy Slim put their name to it.

The single is an edited down version of the original track that was on the LP, but it also came with other innovative and wonderful mixes:-

mp3 : Cornershop – Sleep On The Left Side (Radio Edit)
mp3 : Cornershop – Sleep On The Left Side (Ashley Beedle’s Right Hand Radio Edit)
mp3 : Cornershop – Sleep On The Left Side (Les Rythmes Digitales’ Living By Numbers Mix)
mp3 : Cornershop – Sleep On The Left Side (Ashley Beedle’s Right Hand Extended Mix)

New Order fans everywhere will surely adore the LRD mix…….

Enjoy.

CHANGE THE ‘T’ TO A ‘P’ THEN ADD AN ‘S’ FOR GENERAL CONSUMPTION

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I am of the opinion that When I Was Born For The 7th Time, released by Cornershop back in 1997 is a tremendous record. It is the best known of all the band’s LPs thanks to it having the original version of Brimful of Asha which, thanks to a remix from Norman Cook, stormed to the top of the singles chart.

It was an album which received great acclaim on its initial release but for a time, not long after the remix was such a hit it did seem that many critics, having watched on as the band moved from cult status into commercial success, felt they could have a bit of a go at Cornershop’s particular mix of pop, dance, funk and politics, underpinned by a sub-continental groove.  It certainly caught the band on the hop and caused a bit of a rethink on whether the fame and fortune was really worth the hassle and it would be five years before the next record was released.

Despite having all the hallmarks of a great single, Brimful of Asha wasn’t selected as the first single from the LP. That honour went to the ridiculously catchy Good Shit. Except that it didn’t quite….everyone involved knew that releasing a song with that title and a chorus of ‘Good Shit’s all around good people’ was doomed to an instant ban. So with the change of one little letter and taking it to the plural:-

mp3 : Cornershop – Good Ships

It still of course for the most part sounds as if nothing has been altered which is probably why it hardly got any radio play and was the latest in a run of flop 45s.

The first of the b-side reveals the full extent of the intro on the album version and then proceeds with a great instrumental version of the track:-

mp3 : Cornershop – Intro/Good Ships (instrumental)

The next track on the CD single turned out to be a straight lift of something which would appear unaltered on the LP when it was released some three months later. But at the time it just felt like a tremendous b-side:-

mp3 : Cornershop – Funky Days Are Back Again

And finally, with two minutes extra instrumental funkiness and an infectiously catchy drumming outro:-

mp3 : Cornershop – Funky Days Are Back Again (extended beats mix)

Enjoy