Cornershop's "Handcream for a Generation" -- the Euro-Asian group's first album since the 1997 hit "When I Was Born for the 7th Time" -- is also its first for U.S. indie Beggars Banquet. In an unusual

Cornershop's "Handcream for a Generation" -- the Euro-Asian group's first album since the 1997 hit "When I Was Born for the 7th Time" -- is also its first for U.S. indie Beggars Banquet. In an unusual dual-label arrangement, V2 will distribute the Beggars album, released April 9 in the U.S. (through BMG), and will handle promotion efforts.

"When I Was Born for the 7th Time" spawned a major club and modern rock radio hit with the Fatboy Slim remix of the track "Brimful of Asha." But Cornershop has been silent since. Vocalist Tjinder Singh explains, "There was a general fatigue on my behalf, and I had to stop and sort out a few problems."

In the interim, the band changed attorneys and management (Cornershop is now self-managed worldwide), and reluctantly parted company with its longtime label, Luaka Bop, which had itself moved its distribution from Warner Bros. to Virgin. Singh and guitarist Ben Ayres also released an album under their side project Clinton.

"Handcream for a Generation" continues in Cornershop's eclectic mode, mixing sounds and collaborators from the worlds of rock, hip-hop, R&B, and electronica. One prominent guest is Oasis' Noel Gallagher, who contributes guitar to the 14-minute track "Spectral Mornings."

"We started working on a track together for the Clinton album, but he had to go up to France to finish up the Oasis album at that time," Singh says. "It was good for us to actually get to the bottom of something. He just came in once. He was there for three hours, and he kept on putting overdubs on. Then we went to the pub to pay him."

London reggae toasters Jack Wilson and Kojak appear on "Motion the 11," while old-school R&B star Otis Clay serves as the MC on the leadoff track "Heavy Soup." Mixer Rob Swift of the X-Men co-produced two tracks for the set.

Now in its 10th year, Cornershop has moved beyond initial controversy and has gained recognition for its playful but sometimes tart political commentary, heard on such "Handcream for a Generation" cuts as "Wogs Will Walk."

Singh says, "When I started, Asians got bottled by other Asians if they were on a stage and playing a guitar, because that was just anathema to them. What we've had to fight against to even start this group has made a mark on what other Asians have done in this industry. Not a lot of groups can say that."

He adds, "Slowly but surely, people have realized what we've done from the beginning. People do stop at politics, and it's something we don't waver from. It's gotten to a level now where people are saying, 'Yes, they are political, but we can move further from that and look at what they've done musically and artistically.' It's just so different that people haven't been able to ignore it, and they've moved with us. I'm very happy about that."

A seven-piece edition of Cornershop ("It's Kool & the Gang, really," Singh says) begins a month-long U.S. tour April 26, opening for Oasis in Las Vegas. The band performs at the Coachella Valley Festival in Indio, Calif., the following day, and will hit a mixture of clubs, theaters, and festivals thereafter.





Excerpted from the April 27, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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