Album Review: Cornershop


Cornershop -‘Urban Turban.’ (Music For Motion)

I first heard Cornershop on John Peel’s late night Radio 1 show back in early 1993. Loud and unruly, I was smitten and went around with ‘Cornershop: In the days of Ford Cortiona EP’ scrawled onto my school bag. According to legend, said debut EP was pressed on curry-coloured vinyl (I’ve got the 7″ in front of me and that’s definitely black vinyl). Truth or not, the band were uncompromising and defiant, in their politics and their music. They’d bamed themselves Cornershop as a comment on British people’s perceptions of the Asian community in the UK. My scrawling Cornershop on my school bag raised the usual ‘why’ questioning from my contemporaries at school (but I was a weirdo who didn’t play Rugby and liked The Cure, so they didn’t really expect any better from the lieks of me). But itr was exciting to someone feeling isolated in a God-forsaken market town in England’s East Midlands.

By the time I saw Cornershop live, four years down the line (bizarrely at the Christian-orientated Greenbelt festival, then held near Corby, where the bill also featured 3 Colours Red and Bennet…er ask your Dad), they had expanded their sound , mixing the Indian folk and angry guitar pop with dance and hip-hop influences. Their second album Woman’s Gotta Have It was as much of a progression from their debut Hold On It Hurts as Blur and Radiohead would make between their debut and sophomore releases. They bookended their brilliant set that afternoon in Northamptonshire with ‘6am’ and ‘7:20am Jullander Shere’ like on the album. Yet the next six months would prove even more extraordinary. Their third album When I Was Born For The Seventh Time would prove to be a massive hit. Not only did the song ‘Brimful Of Asha’ top John Peel’s Festive 50 at the end of the year, but the remix of the song by Fatboy Slim (allegedly done by Norman Cook for free after then-label Wiiija said they oculdn’t afford to pay for a remix) helped take it to no.1 in early 1998. Whilst they have yet to make the top ten since, the single has had a couple of other Cornershop songs also make the UK Top Forty and it’s meant that there has always been an interest in new material released by the group. Their second decade might have seen longer between releases from the group but they still generate a considerable amount of interest worldwide.

Thing is, no-one wants just to be remembered for a no.1 hit nearly fifteen years ago that came about as the result of someone else’s remix. The fact is: Cornershop show, yet again, on this their eighth album, show that there’s so much to be celebrated about them in the present time. They have continued to grow and evolve over time, and yet impressively for an album that has such a huge amount of influences, it very definitely sounds like Cornershop.

From the hip-hop inflexions of the single ‘Milkin’ It’ to the gorgeous French-influenced ‘Non-stop radio play’ this is Cornershop firing on all cylinders. It has actually taken a long time to write this review not just because of my reflections on how much I have rated Cornershop, but because it’s just such a flaming great album to listen to. ‘Who’s Gonna Lite It Up’ mixes Beck, Indian influences and Hip-Hop. And it makes sense that there was also a disco side project that they put out as Clinton, because that’s still an interest here (‘Solid Gold.’)

I genuinely believe that there is not a duff track on this album. Yes, I’m a fan (in case that wasn’t already obvious enough). And listening to this album shows that nearly into their third decade as a grop, Cornershop are still one of the most creative bands out there. Get them on your stereo now. This album deserves to be a hit; it’s up to you to m ake it the smash it deserves to be.

One of the strongest releases you are likely to hear this year.


Urban Turban is out now on Music For Motion.

Festive Fifty Stuff for a Friday

John Peel and his wife Sheila, affectionately known as The Pig

I’m glad that quite a few people have been enjoying these Peel posts. I won’t be doing these forever, or I may take a different approach to these, but for the time being, I will do a few more Festive Fifty posts (the only annoying thing about them is just how long they take to do!)

First up, a band who have evolved constantly over the last thirty years, even if they only released five studio albums and one compilation in that time. It’s hard to imagine it not being worth the wait, though. Green Gartside and his merry men:

Scritti Politti -‘Faithless.’ mp3 (1982 Festive Fifty no.13)

One of the most heartbreaking bands ever, with surprisingly their only festive fifty entry:

Trembling Blue Stars -’Abba On the Jukebox.’ mp3 (1996 Festive Fifty no.19)

Morrissey had many entries in the Festive Fifty with the Smiths and for the first few years of his solo career, quite a few too. This was the last of his:

Morrissey -’November Spawned A Monster.’ mp3 (1990 festive Fifty no.16)

Underworld only ever had two entries in the Festive Fifty, no surprise that this epic track was one of them.

Underworld -‘Born Slippy (NUXX).’ mp3 (1996 Festive Fifty no.5)

Another band I remember hearing on Peel and scrawling on my school bag…

Huggy Bear -‘Herjazz.’ mp3 (1993 Festive Fifty no.3)

Over the place of a decade, John Peel gave a lot of coverage to Cornershop. This was their final entry.

Cornershop featuring Bubbley Kaur -‘Topknot.’ mp3 (2004 Festive Fifty no.40)

An aching anthem about being an outsider…and this time, Morrissey wasn’t the singer

Bronski Beat -’Smalltown Boy.’ mp3 (1984 Festive Fifty no.48) (N.B. This is from my vinyl copy of the Age Of Consent and is a bit crackly in places)

As mentioned previously, The Wedding Present were up there with The Smiths and The Fall in terms of entries. This is my favourite song of theirs to make the Festive Fifty

Wedding Present -’My Favourite Dress.’ mp3 (1987 Festive Fifty no.6)

Rather like Blur, Radiohead actually seemed to do better on the Festive fifty further into their career than earlier on:

Radiohead -‘There, There.’ mp3 (20003 Festive Fifty no.37)

And finally, mad, and wonderful -Spizzenergi:

Spizzenergi -’Where’s Captain Kirk?’ mp3 (1980 Festive Fifty no.40)

Have a good Friday!