Cornershop :: When I was Born for the 7th Time
Cornershop's sophomore shout out, Woman's Gotta Have It was a spicy lil samosa that pleasantly arrived in 1995 on David Byrne's Luaka Bop Label. It could have served as the perfect soundtrack to what might have been a Bollywood version of "Austin Powers." Yaar baby yaar! Featuring finely crafted pop songs & instrumental segue/jams that were cross pollinated with equal parts sitar, tabla, guitar rock, funk, psychedelia, disco, Punjabi folk, and DJ samples, Woman's Gotta Have It was a clear indication of frontman Tjinder Singh's unique talent.
Two years later, the highly successful When I Was Born For the 7th Time followed. A similar mix of Anglo-Indian convergence but with largely better production and overall songwriting. Starting off with the bass driven "Sleep on the Left Side," the album's second track "Brimful of Asha" was its most popular single. It was curious to see W.A.S.P.s here in the States bopping along to the catchy guitar riff of this infectious song & video, while presumably being ignorant of who Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar, & Mohd Rafi (icons of Indian film music) were. But no matter, education sometimes is delivered in unwittingly sugary confections such as this.
"Butter the Soul" kicks off with slinky DJ scratching and whistles before revealing a fuzzed out sitar line. "Chocolat," another instrumental segue sounds like a score from the 70's classic TV of "The Six Million Dollar Man." By far though, my favorite song is "We're in Yr Corner," a sitar meets bass implosion with Singh's propulsive vocals sung in Punjabi. The disc continues in this manner, switching between 60's era inflected pop rock, to spacy yet urgent instrumental breaks sprinkled liberally throughout.
I think my only problem with this CD is the presence of these instrumental passages. One or two to help change up the flow would have been fine, but the amount of them here seem to distract for what would otherwise have been an outstanding, cohesive album. When I get a Pez dispenser, I expect candy the whole way thru, not chalky filler here and there. More songs like "Good to be on the Road Again" with its youthful Marianne Faithful-like guest vocals and the Punjabi cover of "Norwegian Wood" would make for an all around better experience.