Revisiting Cornershop’s “Brimful of Asha” On a… Compact Disc

Something renewed my interest on this indie rock band called Cornershop, who scored a hit with “Brimful of Asha” back in 1997. No, it’s not this new-ish indie rock group from London who call themselves Bombay Bicycle Club, who probably thought adopting a name based on a defunct Indian restaurant would make it sound like they care about “culture.” It was watching Stephen Malkmus on the Slow Century DVD, inserting the chorus of “Brimful of Asha” at the end of “Summer Babe” during one of their last gigs in London in 1999.

Cornershop’s “Brimful of Asha” is an honest and insightful song about cinema, the people working behind the scenes, and the common people who love going to the movies. This song was on one of those compilation albums (don’t remember if it was MTV Fresh or something), this is how we discovered it, one of our friends brought the tape to school. And no, it’s not through the Fatboy Slim remix.

Cornershop, a band we never heard of before, were among familiar names like Oasis, Radiohead, and Meredith Brooks. I thought the song was about a famous Bollywood movie star named Asha Bhosle. I was wrong. And while the song is about Indian cinema, and is sort of a tribute to Asha Bhosle, no, she’s not a movie star, but she sang and recorded songs for many a Bollywood movies. You can read more about it here, if you want. 

I’m not sure if our local radio also played “Brimful of Asha” in the mid to late ’90s (they probably did though not as often as they did the bigger hits of the day) but I’m pretty sure they played Kula Shaker’s “Govinda.” I remember singing this song to myself whenever I’m truly bored (Govinda jaya jaya / Gopala jaya jaya / Radha-ramanahari Govinda jaya jaya). By the way, I did not copy that lyrics from the internet, I typed them from memory. Back then, we didn’t mind, that “Brimful of Asha” is written mostly in English while Kula Shaker, a band consist of four white lads from London, sing their song in classic Indian language. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?

Maybe it’s ironic — in Alanis Morrissette sort of way. Regardless, I’ll take Tjinder Singh & co.’s East-meets-West pop-rock over Kula Shaker’s culture-appropriating psychedelic rock any time of the day.

When I searched for When I Was Born for the 7th Time online (When I Was Born is the album that contains “Brimful of Asha”), I was surprised that the album cover is different from what I remember. It’s different from what I saw on the cassette inserts of that compilation album (still don’t remember if it was MTV Fresh or something else), from which we first heard “Brimful of Asha.” Turns out the one I was looking for was the US version of the album. The cover and packaging of the US version were different from the ones originally released in the UK. The cover art of the UK version is kind of I don’t know, I like the US version better.

Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow. Everybody needs a bosom.

Pavement’s Farewell Horizontal, Harness Your Hopes, and The Age of the Ass

After years of waiting, Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal will finally see the light. Of day. If you don’t know what that is, Terror Twilight is Pavement’s fifth and final album, and the only studio album of theirs that has yet to get an expanded or deluxe reissue. Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Ed. came out in 2008; it was the last in the series of reissues that started with Slanted and Enchanted: Luxe & Redux back in 2002.

Fans have been waiting for Matador to put out Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal since around 2009-2010, but Matador and members of the band have been silent about it for more than a decade. Farewell Horizontal (which they probably got from the book of the same name) was one of the titles suggested for the album, before they settled with the alliterative Terror Twilight.

Curiously, Matador’s teaser for the upcoming reissue was a track called “Be the Hook,” an unrecognizable early version of a killer song (“The Hook“) that would appear later on Stephen Malkmus’ solo debut. I don’t want to be that guy, but “Be the Hook” is kind of lackluster and, at best, tentative. Well, looking at the track listing of this 4-LP / 2-CD expanded edition, most of the tracks are just alternate and early versions of the same songs that would end up on the album.

“Ground Beefheart” is “Platform Blues,” “Jesus in Harlem” is “Cream of Gold,” and “Billy,” said to be a reference to Malkmus’ dear friend Billy Corgan, later renamed as “Billie.” There are also two early versions of “You Are a Light,” one recorded in Jackpot! and the other in Sonic Youth’s Echo Canyon studio.

Matador releasing a surprising, if uninteresting track as a teaser is somewhat understandable. Aside from “Be the Hook” and one fan-favorite Spiral Stairs track, most of the songs here do not have the Holy Grail-level of say, the Slanted and Enchanted-era John Peel sessions, or the B-sides off Brighten the Corners. Sure, most of them were previously unreleased, previously unheard, but there’s hardly a handful here that the most seasoned Pavement fans did not already “knew.”

How are these songs different from the ones that ended up on Terror Twilight? Probably not much. There’s high probability that some of these songs have different lyrics. I wonder how the early demos and (shelved) recorded versions differ from the final versions, music-wise. Is there a better (or at least interesting) alternate version of “Platform Blues,” or “Cream of Gold,” or “Ann Don’t Cry”? Maybe not. Here’s hoping the demos of “Spit On A Stranger” and “Carrot Rope” are as “complete” as the “Major Leagues” demo.

I’m not really interested in knowing how different the earlier versions of “The Porpoise and the Hand Grenade” or “Rooftop Gambler” were from the ones that ended up on Spit On A Stranger and Major Leagues EP. Apart from the Brighten the Corners-era B-sides and covers (“The Killing Moon,” “The Classical”), the B-sides on both EPs are among the least interesting tracks in the band’s catalog. Well, for research purposes, they’re probably good for a spin or two.

I’m actually more curious about the studio version of “For Sale! The Preston School of Industry.” The song is currently available only on YouTube and low-quality MP3 rips. How will the studio version fare compared to the one they wrote and performed live on TV? By the way, here’s a link to the TV episode in its entirety. Was it not that good that’s why it was abandoned early on? Or did it not sound good together with the other songs? Well, maybe. And if you’d ask me, “Preston School” is hardly among the top-tier songs by Spiral Stairs (“Mussle Rock,” “Kennel District,” “Winner of the”).

With Farewell Horizontal coming out twenty years since Matador started reissuing Pavement’s albums, and more than a decade since the last one (Nicene Creedence Ed.), it isn’t unsurprising that Matador and Pavement wanted to add more hype to the proceedings. Because — again, I don’t want to be that guy — there’s kind of a dearth of unearthed materials here. Thus, the surprise new music video for the band’s most popular song on Spotify, a song that, by the way, isn’t included in the expanded Terror Twilight. Thus, Matador is also reissuing the Spit On a Stranger single, where the song first appeared on officially (it was later included in the Brighten the Corners deluxe reissue, since it was originally recorded during the BTC sessions). Does anyone still remember Secret History, Vol. 1?

I don’t remember exactly when did I first heard “Harness Your Hopes.” It was in the mid-aughts, maybe on a bootleg copy I downloaded somewhere. Maybe it was a bootleg of the BBC Radio One sessions, which also includes a killer cover of Echo & the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon.” And the song has been one of my favorite Pavement tracks since then. And not just me, I’m sure other Pavement fans as well. Though the fans aren’t really the reason “Harness Your Hopes” became the band’s most streamed song on Spotify — it’s the platform’s weird algorithm.

Regardless of its recent rise in popularity, the song has long been one of the favorite non-album tracks among fans. One of the reasons is its playful lyrics. Fans and critics have been writing about rhyming Pavement with enslavement (and other words ending with -ment) since the series of reissues came out in the ’00s. It’s a reference to the lyrics “Show me a word that rhymes with Pavement / And I won’t kill your parents and roast them on a spit.” Some fans deduced that killing your parents and roasting them on a spit actually means “depravement,” and that the next line “And don’t you try to etch it or permanently sketch it,” could also be summed up as “engravement.”

More interesting though is one fan’s comment on Facebook asking if Pavement predicted the 2020’s, referring again to lyrics of “Harness Your Hopes.” Pay attention to the highlighted lines (in Bold) in the following couplets:

And don’t you try to etch it or permanently sketch it
Or you’re gonna catch a bad, bad cold
And the freaks have stormed the White House, I moved into a lighthouse
It’s on a scenic quay, it’s, oh, so far away

COVID-19 as the bad, bad cold is somewhat on point and the freaks storming the White House is pretty funny. I might add that the couplets below reminds of me of conservatives with their semi-automatic rifles in those anti-lockdown rallies in 2020.

It’s a semi-automatic, believers are ecstatic
You see the way they cling, the cold metallic sting

And the line about the rations below, kind of reminds me of people panic-buying, and of course, the Toilet Paper Apocalypse. The bit about asses? Well, this is not from 2020’s but I remember it was also brought up a lot around the time of the lockdown: ‘The Age of the Ass’: Baudrillard, Black Leggings, and the More Nude than Nude, which tackles how leggings/yoga pants reveal as much as they conceal that which needs not to be revealed.

And I’m checking out the asses, the assets that attract us
To anything that moves, we’re deep inside the grooves
And it’s time to shake the rations ’cause someone’s gonna cash in
The plot it turns again, the reference starts at ten

By the way, here’s Yellowjacket‘s Sophie Thatcher trying to find a word that rhymes with Pavement in the new “Harness Your Hopes” music video.

Brighten the Corners

Pavement’s Autumnal Fourth Record Turns 25

It was around the time after Matador released the superlative re-issue of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, when I rediscovered Pavement, through the internet, on one Radiohead fansite, on music review sites and online magazines. People were just sharing stuff, and before long, I have Pavement’s first, second, and fourth Continue reading “Brighten the Corners”

My 10 Favorite Records of the 2010’s

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You can never quarantine the past

Not intending this to be a quasi best of list. Just ten albums I liked/loved more than the others. All which came out between 2010 and last year. Maybe this is more of a personal chart, what music songs records I’ve been listening to for the last ten years. And this doesn’t even include those which were made in the ’90s and the 2Ks. Continue reading “My 10 Favorite Records of the 2010’s”

20 Songs from the 2010’s (Part Deux)

Stephen Malkmus at The Forum

Better Off / Guijo St. (Makes You Wonder) – Apartel (2016)
Apartel is Ely Buendia and the gang in full soul/funk/R&B mode. If I remember correctly, Ely once said that he can’t do R&B. Maybe, RnB or contemporary R&B (i.e., South Border, Freestyle, Beyonce, Rihanna) was what he meant because here he is doing exactly that, producing good, if not be for everyone, funky music. Continue reading “20 Songs from the 2010’s (Part Deux)”

Parokya ni Edgar – Khangkhungkherrnitz (1996)

albumart_khangkhungkherrnitzBefore comedy bars became the favorite hangout of your wannabe-cool titas, who were never really into bands, frats or gangs (and therefore, were never really cool in the first place), the bar/band shenanigans were exclusively aimed for drunk and stoned college kids who were into bands, strippers, and booze. They’re the ones who’ll later turn into yuppies and sing-drunk to Radiohead’s “Creep” with Tagalog lyrics in company parties and karaoke bars.

The title alone is indicative enough how much veggie rolls this sextet has consumed. Of course, TVJ is one of their role models and Tough Hits is the blueprint they patterned this from. And since they’re three heads harder than the aforementioned trio, the goof numbers are sandwiched between original songs and the parodies come in full form.

Radiohead’s first hit became “Trip”, a tale about addiction to siopao made in Shaolin House, one less punky The Clash number became “The Crush”, and “Tatlong Araw” was supposedly borrowed from Yano’s “Mc Jo”. Sophomoric, here, is a compliment and if you want more proof, go to “Karaoke ni Edgar”, it’s killer-filler-fun (Sample lyrics: Okey ka sana, kaso lang, lalake ka).

And the originals are no less catchy and memorable (“Buloy”, “Maniwala Ka Sana”) since the other group they look up to is no other than the Eraserheads. If Stephen Malkmus and Spiral Stairs once made up a story about getting into a fight while auditioning for Beverly Hills, 90210, PNE made a song about trying it out for the Tuesday Edition of Kuya Germs’ That’s Entertainment.

Up to this day, I’m still apprehensive about playing “Lutong Bahay” really loud, that my neighbors, elderly folks, mothers, from Batangas and elsewhere, would find the play on cuss words (putang ina mo and puking ina mo) and innuendos offensive, disrespectful (Ako’s lalayas sa amin—upang makatikim—ng puta(heh) ng ina mo, cooking ng ina mo–oh). That Darius Semana’s mother, who hails from Lipa Batangas, is probably cool with and even proud of it, I find a bit comforting.

Still, a song about eating your girlfriend’s mother’s special pancake in the morning isn’t something your girlfriend and her mother would want to hear—in the car, in a party or in family gatherings—though they most probably wouldn’t mind if newer songs like “Peacock”, Flo Rida’s “Whistle” or “Versace on the Floor” are on your playlist. But that’s okay, you can always put your head-phones on, and LOL yourself into oblivion.

Pavement – Watery, Domestic (1992)

You just can’t go in the studio toss out four “distinguishable, hummable songs” (Christgau) and call it an album. You can’t just invite your two buddies let one of them play bass and the other just basically do nothing and make them official members of the band afterwards. You can’t just have your drummer make a head-stand on the drum stool while tracking his parts. Continue reading “Pavement – Watery, Domestic (1992)”

Obligatory Pavement Post #3: Ironic Love Songs

MI0002184938“Harness — your hopes to just one person, because you know a harness, is only made for one.” Tell me that isn’t about love. Or marriage. Maybe I’m not right. But I’m sure I could not be wrong. Because seldom are there wrong interpretations when it comes to Stephen Malkmus’ songs. At least that’s what my lit teacher told us in school. Of course, she was talking about poetry then and not about songs written by some semi-obscure slacker from Stockton, California. That line, by the way, is from “Harness Your Hopes,” B-side to a single off Pavement’s 1997 LP, Brighten the Corners. Continue reading “Obligatory Pavement Post #3: Ironic Love Songs”