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Cornershop – When I Was Born For The 7th Time

February 18, 2011

[September 8 1997, Wiija]

Cornershop take their name from the stereotypical nickname given to newsagents occasionally run by Indian people, often located on the corner of a street. I guess the band thought it was funny seeing as 2 of the founding members are Indian (the magnesiums themselves are no strangers to ambiguously racist in-jokes). While the name’s actual use has drifted into the racial-slur hall of fame, Cornershop have soldiered on, releasing 5 albums, including their third and my personal favourite, the genre defying psychedelic-britpop-electrofunk When I Was Born For The 7th Time. The album proved a slow burner for me, but I’ve eventually seen it for the exceptional and innovative record it truly is. I invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the album opener; a mere morsel of what’s to come.

Cornershop – Sleep On The Left Side

Cornershop formed in Leicester 1991, and is the brainchild of brothers Tjinder Singh (vocals, guitar), his brother Avtar Singh (bass guitar, vocals) completed by David Chambers (drums) and Ben Ayres (guitar, keyboards, and tamboura), made up from members of their previous band, General Havoc, formed 4 years prior while they were still at school.

They received a mediocre smattering of second-hand fame from a racism incident involving Morrisey where they burned a picture of their lead singer in front of Morissey’s record label  EMI’s head office. They signed to David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label after 2 well-received EPs,and released 3 albums in as many years following their 1994 debut LP, Hold On It Hurts.

After a lineup change in 1994 with only Tjinder and Ben remaining (yes, one brother left), having employed a new drummer and adding a sitarist and percussionist, the new look Cornershop ambled along gaining but a mediocre fanbase until they finally (and deservedly) rose to fame with their 1997 album When I Was Born For The 7th Time. However, it was Fatboy Slim’s 1998 “Norman Cook Remix” of Brimful of Asha that thrust them back into the limelight, with the remix reaching #1 stateside and in the UK.

Cornershop – Brimful of Asha (Album Version)

Although the song was huge, most of the attention centred around the already-popular Fatboy Slim, and as a band in their own right Cornershop remained fairly anonymous. It took me more than 10 years to finally pick up and listen to this album (after a recommendation from my mate Ashley) and I’m astonished I didn’t stumble upon it sooner.

I was hooked from the first track: “Sleep On The Left Side” drags us dreamily into Cornershop’s world where east meets west; a musical Chicken Tikka Masala if you will (sorry, after reading Will’s post, some of his charm must’ve rubbed off on me). “Brimful of Asha” in its true form is the unavoidable highlight, and so much more than the remix, or the funny lyrics including the word “bosom”, and could be considered a musical hallmark for the ever-evolving multicultural country we live in. The album is peppered with interludes including the awesome funk-dub  “Butter The Soul”, the tabla-dominated “What Is Happening” and the psychedelic “Coming Up”, all which flavour the album brilliantly, adding new instruments and sounds at every turn. The Blur-ish and obviously funky “Funky Days Are Back Again” (this was the year Blur released Blur, by the way) is great, and “We’re In Your Corner” shows off the band’s Indian-Britpop fusion at its best. Another highlight is the Beck-like “Candyman”, and the record is capped off by a very cool Punjabi version of  “Norwegian Wood“.

I could go on, and really I’d like to mention almost all of the tracks but I think I already have I’ve made my point. When I Was Born For The 7th Time is a diverse and completely refreshing album, and a pleasure to listen to. Cornershop offer a very unique take on the britpop vibe of the 90s, aware of their influences (ahem), adding their own tastes and cultural influences into the mix which sounds perfectly timeless to this day. I think you’ll enjoy this.

You can listen to When I Was Born For The 7th Time on Spotify, and be sure to check out some other featured songs from our blog too!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. j-diz permalink
    February 28, 2011 6:48 pm

    This was a slow burner on me as well. I’m not often in the mood for such chilled out psychedelica, but whenever I have been this comes top of the pile.

    The last I heard was that they were doing a farewell tour last year. I thought about getting tickets for their last one (apparently) but the gig was in Brighton and this album and Handcream For a Generation hadn’t got me under their spell fully yet.

    I just checked and they are still going – a new album out soon?! One of those pledge money to help fund the new album shindigs that are getting more popular. What bullshit was I reading about before though…? Ah well, good news all the same.

  2. j-diz permalink
    February 28, 2011 6:48 pm

    PS – Do you listen to Handcream or Judy much?

  3. marininha.dias permalink
    March 1, 2011 7:43 pm

    Funny how the creators of such a famous song, one that everybody all over the world could sing along to, can stay rather unknown. Thank you Robbie for sharing, I would have never thought of listening to the whole album, but I enjoyed it!

  4. Pete permalink
    March 16, 2012 11:56 pm

    Just come across this album, and whilst listening started looking up lyrics, their website etc because I was liking it and not what I expected. Found your review and it put my thoughts into words… haven’t looked at anything else on your site yet to see what else grabs you, but hoping this is new to you – ‘Sublime’ by Sublime

  5. October 27, 2012 4:44 pm

    Hi there to all, how is all, I think every one
    is getting more from this website, and your views are fastidious for new visitors.

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