Cornershop – Woman’s Gotta Have It

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

I had no idea Cornershop had nine albums! Looks like I’ll be spending some time on Spotify . . . I lost track of Cornershop after two albums, and perhaps the five year gap between the third and fourth albums partially explains it; the seven year gap thereafter until album five seems similarly relevant. But for those two albums, I was strongly sucked in by this lively mix of Indian music, indie-rock, and electronic beats. Cornershop – an ironic name mocking British stereotypes – was led by Tjinder Singh and his brother Avtar, who sometimes sang in Punjabi; they came out of England in 1991. Avtar left by 1996 and Tjinder has been guiding the band ever since. They played some Lollapalooza dates in 1995 and toured with Beck and Oasis (and also recorded with Noel Gallagher).

What I Think of This Album

This is some of the greatest music I have ever heard.

The hypnotic, trancey “6am Jullandar Shere” is glorious. Jullandar appears to be an alternate spelling of Jalandhar, a city in Punjab, India. Shere is a bit more difficult. It is a village in Surrey, England, which is probably a false lead. Sher is a Punjabi word (though its origins are complex, and include Arabic) which means either tiger or lion. And Sher-e-Punjab is a professional field hockey team from . . . Jalandhar.

Anyway, the band repeats this soldering trick in interesting ways in the gentle, jangly “Roof Rack,” which still manages to include stinging lead guitar and synth squiggles. Equally worthy is handclap-supported “Wog,” with a hip-hop feel to Singh’s vocals. The guitars kick ass on “Jansimran King,” a psychedelic track which should be the anthem of India’s space program. The brothers Singh – along with bandmates Wallis Healy (guitar), Ben Ayres (guitar), Saffs (keys and sitar), drummer Nick Simms and percussionist Pete Hall – craft a majestic indie-rock song that shoves Pavement into a terror twilight (that bass! the guitar noise!) with “Looking for a Way In.”

The album closes with “7:20am Jullandar Shere,” which trades the first 20 seconds or so of the opening track for an additional three odd minutes, which is as good a deal as you are going to find. Fucking amazing. Of course, this being the ‘90s, that is not actually the last song, for the droney hidden track “Never Leave Yrself Open” eventually reveals itself.

Guest vocalists Parsley and Sasha Andres take over on “My Dancing Days Are Done,” which references Petula Clark. Sometimes the band plays with harder edge, like on blistering “Hong Kong Book of Kung Fu“ and lo-fi “Call All Destroyer,” but I find these tracks less compelling.

The Best Thing About This Album

The reclamation and subversion of raga rock.

Release Date

October, 1995

The Cover Art

This reminds me a lot of my parents’ Latin records that I listened to as young child, though often those album covers were more risqué than this. I like how it has an early ‘70s look to it. I should note that this is the cover of the U.S. release; the U.K. release is different and worse. This was designed by Deborah Norcross, who also did work for Jane’s Addiction, Filter, and Oingo Boingo.

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