Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Didn't you use to be Cornershop?

Aidan Smith goes to talk to Tjinder Singh for Scotland On Sunday; doesn't exactly get off to a good start:

I AM STANDING outside the Tube station waiting for one of pop's forgotten men. Embarrassingly, I have already approached two likely suspects and been met with blank looks and, in one case, a flurry of sign langauge. As the appointed hour comes and goes, I lose all confidence in my ability to remember what Tjinder Singh looks like and start collaring white faces. Well, it's been a long time.

If you're just heading up to random Anglo Asians and asking them "are you that bloke out of the Cornershop?", you should, perhaps, expect a flurry of sign language.

The trouble is Smith seems to think of Cornershop as the band that had a number one hit and vanished, whereas, really, Brimful Of Asha was more of an aberration than the subsequent radio silence.
It was way back in 2002 ,that Singh stuck a "Back in 10 mins" sign in the Cornershop window. If his band was a real shop, how could it possibly survive? I am imagining it alongside assorted comedy emporia – the one holding the last remaining copy of JR Hartley's Fly Fishing, the best place to buy fork handles, the Stella Street grocer's with a zonked-out Keef Richards behind the till – when finally he shows.

More to the point, what if the band really was a corner? A corner that went missing for seven years? Where would people turn?

Luckily, Tjinder does turn up and offers some particularly bitter words about their treatment at the hands of Beggars Banquet. And the interview is a great read, once it gets to the interview and past the padding.

And stops going back to it.
But while their film may be a fine thing – similar to another lost project, a reggae album – we should focus on Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast, a conventional release from a defiantly unconventional band. It's fully stocked with familiar Cornershop wares, not least Singh's elusive lyrics.

It's a conventionally unconventional album from them, because they conventionally don't have a sound, but somehow they sound like they always sound: the unconventional convention. If they were a convention, though, I wonder what sort of convention they might be? A convention of corners, or perhaps squares. Maybe, for some reason I can't quite explain, it'd be like that convention addressed by Alan Partridge where he gave everyone a complementary Daily Express.
Although Singh admits there were low points when he thought he was going mad and even his wife stopped listening to Cornershop, he isn't as bitter as a lemon about the band's time in the wilderness.

He's not as bitter as a lemon, but the new record is certainly a tonic. With a twist. A twist of an unbitter lemon... and... can I go home now?