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Cornershop – When I Was Born for the 7th Time (1997)

July 29, 2015

[Album 409/1001]

Name that tune time!

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If you knew the song name, well played.WhenIWasBornForThe7thTime

For me, it was instantly familiar but I hadn’t the foggiest idea what was said before “45” and had to look up what exactly a “Brimful of Asha” is/was.  An essay on the Cornershop website helped clarify.

This catchy but overlong hit song is somewhat of a microcosm of the album itself, for better and, to a lesser extent, for worse.

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For better…in that some sounds enhance the listening experience.

When I Was Born for the 7th Time has a terrific list of featured instruments, including some sitar, harmonium and dholki (speaking of things I had to look up!).

It also featured a Punjabi language cover of Norwegian Wood, a neat take on one of my favourite Beatle tunes.

The album is also filled to the brim with hooks, it’s easy to see the appeal.

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For worse…in that some sounds take away from the listening experience.

The album opens nicely with Sleep on the Left Side, a late-90s, two-chord loop that could be a distant, slightly less chatty cousin of Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand.

But just as I was settling into a groove, a loud, enthusiastic voice bursts in to introduce Brimful of Asha.

It reminded me of watching a quiet, nighttime scene in a TV show and all of a sudden, a commercial comes blaring on with flashing lights, startling sound effects, and impossibly-energetic voiceovers!

The album flow was disrupted a couple other times along the way and at 15 tracks, it’s not as potent as it might have been with some editing.  From what I gather, there’s substance to the lyrics, but some of the sounds through some of the less interesting musical stretches probably detracted from some of the messages.

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Luckily, the better outweighs the worse, the stronger tracks still outnumber the weaker ones but overall, it was a bit of a (mostly) up & (slightly) down experience.

Like Brimful of Asha, much of the record feels tailor-made for use in adverts, many of the tracks have likely already been employed in that manner.

But even if they’ve already been featured in commercials, I’m sure that won’t stop these songs from being re-born, perhaps for a 7th time, in new promotional campaigns.

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From → 1990s

21 Comments
  1. Ah yes, Cornershop. Terribly underrated band. This is definitely not their best but is easily their best known work. Brimful of asha was ubiquitous in the late 90s, mostly thanks to Norman ‘Fatboy Slim’ Cook. It’s interesting that the cover art you posted is not the same as that on the CD that I’m sure I still have in my basement.

    • And my copy is different too (cover featuring a girl with writing over top) – for consistent formatting, I keep using the wikipedia 220 x 220 images.
      Nice to hear they have more to offer – any album in a particular you’d recommend JP?

      • ‘Woman’s gotta have it’ (1995) was pretty good but I really like ‘Judy sucks a lemon for breakfast’ (2009). We probably have the same cover.

      • Those could be companion albums, Judy could be that woman, gotta have a lemon? I’m curious about that 2009 one especially, thanks!

      • Ha! I suppose so. That later album has a great cover of ‘The mighty Quinn’ on it

  2. And yes, I did know the name of the tune….

    • Nice, I don’t think I’ll remember the name in a few months, I’ll definitely keep humming the tune though!

  3. A fine assessment of this one, Geoff. Actually surprised this is among the 1001 – accessible enough, but I think maybe a bit too patchy to be one that I’d ever really return to.

    • Thanks J – patchy’s a good way of putting it, some good patches yes, but not consistent throughout.

  4. Your little girl is so friggin cute!!

  5. I knew it straight-away! 🙂 Wow, good on you for shining a light on this old tune, I’d forgotten it even existed. Wow. Turns out it is here in my iTunes, from an old CMJ magazine CD compilation October of 1997.

    Also, “This catchy but overlong hit song” could apply to many. We could make a whole CD-R of songs just like it, in that way. Len’s Steal My Sunshine. Trooper’s Here For A Good Time…

    Also, is that a… banjo?

    • It’s a strumming stick, but in Banjo open G tuning!
      There’s a music lending library in Kingston (which is amazing that such a thing exists) – you can borrow instruments like strumming sticks for a month at a time!

      • I love libraries. So much coolness.

        Strum stick! I think I’ve seen Gord Downie with one, in some video somewhere. Maybe he borrowed it from the library!

        Also, this:

      • Cheers to libraries of all kinds – and strumming stick journey covers too!

  6. Hackskeptic permalink

    I’m looking forward to reviewing this, even though I got thoroughly bored with “Brimful…”, I know their album was much more varied.

    • Varied it was – I’m wondering if that’s why it’s an album that ends up in the discount bins. Maybe the masses bought it expecting an album of ‘brimful’ and were disappointed when that wasn’t the case

  7. The album was a permanent feature in our car CD player for about 5 years so I got to know it quite well, despite never knowing the names of most of the tracks. Butter The Soul and Chocolate became favourites, along with the Norwegian Wood cover. Brimful of Asha still sounds better pre-Norman Cook, although at least his version brought it to wider attention.

    I don’t know why I get so sentimental over this album but it seems to symbolise a time in our lives pre-kids, pre-proper responsibilities. For me it’s a bit of a time capsule along with Blur’s eponymous 4th album and Chemical Brothers’ Dig Your Own Hole. And it was an album my wife bought, which happens less and less nowadays.

    Thanks for posting this, it was a nice, considered review.

    • I definitely have albums that fit that time capsule description. Many of my favourites probably aren’t critical ‘classic’ albums but they are ones that I heard at an important time in my life and are special for that reason.
      Both Blur & Dig your own hole are on the 1001, haven’t got to the chemical brothers yet but I love the self-titled blur, look inside america, what a track!

  8. Ha – just seen the video you added as part of the post (it didn’t load first time). Very good!!

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