The obvious choice was their ‘Brimful of Asha’, a song which in part celebrates the 45 rpm single. But it is the obvious choice, and despite its many charms (‘everybody needs a bosom for a pillow’ indeed), I’m not sure that Cornershop have recorded anything more emotionally rousing and celebratory than this six minute slice of Eastern devotional meets Velvet Underground-inspired drone, for want of a better way of describing the way Tjinder Singh & co.’s influences rub up against each other so magnificently. It’s a joyful noise made out of simple elements minimally deployed. I’m not sure I trust any of the translations from the Punjabi on the web sufficiently to quote from them, but the general gist is that it’s a prayer for peace and unity and also a plea not be sidetracked by the ephemeral or creature comforts. I think we can all get on board with that, can’t we?
For me it had been a case of shrugging, on first hearing Cornershop on John Peel’s show. Their earlier records are dim memories now but I am left with an impression of a sound not fully baked. Why then did I take a chance on ‘6 a.m. Jullandar shere’? No doubt because it was a one-sided 99p single. Probably because I had made it a rule of mine not to come away from the Rough Trade shop on Talbot Road in west London (from the postcode of which – W11 1JA – the record label’s name is derived) without at least one purchase; there was always plenty in there that I wanted, after all. Also because the title was intriguing. And when I put it on later, I immediately discovered that it was the kind of record you could play over and over, without it ever getting boring. Which is I imagine why ‘Jullandar shere’ bookends the other songs on the LP on which it appears, in first its 6 a.m. and then its ten minute 7:20 a.m. versions. And it still sounds as ripe for repeat plays today.
- Cornershop – 6 a.m. Jullandar shere (Note that this is the version from Woman’s gotta have it, different from the single only in having an additional ten second intro)