Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cornershop and Chalk

Hey wait, I was gonna write about bands that get their big break through TV commercials this week... (See the next post down)

No really, there I was Sunday afternoon, sitting with a large bowl of dough, rolling out hundreds of what we call "Pomanders" in my family, although yours might call them something like Rum Balls. So I had some football games on, watching the beloved green and gold team from the state to our east go down in defeat due to their Swiss-cheese-like defense, then watching the former quarterback of said team get his butt kicked by the Broncos. "Goodness!" as Wayne Larrivee and Larry McCarren say. [Bonus points to the first commenter to identify these two - WITHOUT GOOGLING!]

I had the sound turned off and was just reading the closed captioning, because the rest of my household was napping. There was this Nike commercial that kept coming on, showing various players clapping their hands together and getting chalk all over everybody. Once everybody woke up and I put the sound on, I heard the familiar strains of "Candyman", the everpopular mixtape fave from Cornershop's 1997 classic album When I was Born for the 7th Time playing along with the Nike ad. Remember that one? That bouncy descending bass line loping along? The multilingual rap by Justin Warfield about "the Vedas and Gitas and the Rig Beat, too" that namechecks Soul on Ice?

Wow! Cornershop? Whatever happened to those positive purveyors of Punjabi punk? What have they been up to lately? Last time I checked their Myspace Tjinder Singh was taking time off for his new baby, I think.

Here's the "Chalk Commercial" , aka "LeBron James Season 6" ... at about 125,000 views as I write this. The commercial was just released November 27.  Everybody's got a little bit of the magic.

Now When I Was Born... will be famous for something other than great lyrics such as "Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow" (from the tune "Brimful of Asha.")  One remix of that one went to #1 in England, while the album got up to #17. Not bad for a multi-culti band of outsiders.  Really, what other disc from 1997 contained, along with the tunes mentioned above, a Punjabi reclaiming  of "Norwegian Wood," a tune with Alan Ginsberg doing vocals, Indian  percussion and sitars mixed with a bit of the grungy psychedelic attitude seen on earlier releases such as 1995's Woman's Gotta Have It and 1993's Lock, Stock & Double-Barrel.  Remember "Wog Wog...this Western Oriental is going full circle..."  There was an anti-racist educational cartoon made with that song and an interview of  Tjinder Singh.  Even the band's name is an in your face anti-racist comment to those who think South Asians are only the guys running convenience stores.
As with many a big hit, there are a number of odd YouTubes out there of "Brimful."   Fatboy Slim did a slightly uptempo remix of it with a pretty fun video. Here.

You know, I used to have a 45 of that song. Really. I think it was orange vinyl. They were giving them away at a Cornershop concert at First Avenue one year on Thanksgiving night. The B-side was "It's Indian Tobacco, My Friend." Where are my 45s?! Anybody else at that one? They had to play "Sleep on the Left Side " twice because they were filming a video and it didn't take right the first time or something.

OK, this is a trip down memory lane. Here's "Lessons Learned from Rocky I to III", the best song from their 2002 release Handcream for a Generation. It's like all your favorite glam songs ever, rolled into one. Sing along..."Ooooooooh, whoooh-oooh. Yeah Yeah." Whee!

So I'm not going to write about bands making it big because of a tv commercial because the next post down addresses it quite well.  But I would love to see this ad propel Cornershop back into a bit of the limelight. They were always much bigger in their native England than over here. "Candyman" doesn't sound dated at all to these ears. To the contrary, it sounds really fresh and fun. Maybe they'll finish that album that was supposed to come out in early 2008. Or that big video project they'd been working on for about a decade. Or...or...or at least maybe a new generation of listeners will be Born for the 7th Time.

1 comment:

Angel of Rock said...

I just danced to 'Brimful' a little bit.