Cornershop are a British indie rock band best known for their single “Brimful of Asha”, originally released in 1997 and, in a remixed version, topping the UK chart in 1998. The band was formed in 1991 by Wolverhampton-born Tjinder Singh (singer, songwriter, and guitar), his brother Avtar Singh (bass guitar, vocals), David Chambers (drums) and Ben Ayres (guitar, keyboards, and tamboura), the first three having previously been members of Preston-based band General Havoc, who released one single (the “Fast Jaspal EP”) in 1991. The band name originated from a stereotype referring to British Asians often owning corner shops. Their music is a fusion of Indian music, indie rock, alternative and electronic dance music.
“Brimful of Asha” is a single by British alternative rock band Cornershop from their third album When I Was Born for the 7th Time. The recording originally reached number 60 on the UK Singles Chart in 1997. After a remixed version by Norman Cook became a radio and critical success, the song was re-released and reached number one on the UK chart and number 16 on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The lyric is a tribute to Asha Bhosle.
This song is based on the history of film culture in India. Since their beginnings, Indian films have relied heavily on song-and-dance numbers. The singing is almost always performed by background singers while the actors and actresses lip sync. Asha Bhosle is a playback singer who has sung over 12,000 songs and is referred to as “Sadi rani” (Punjabi for “our queen”) at one point in the lyrics. In the slower, original album recording, playback singers Lata Mangeshkar (her older sibling) and Mohammed Rafi (one of the top male playback singers of the mid-century) are mentioned. The lyrics in the bridge contain a number of references to non-Indian music, including Georges Brassens’ song “Les Amoureux des bancs publics”, Jacques Dutronc, Marc Bolan, Argo Records and Trojan Records.
DJ Norman Cook (“Fatboy Slim”) was asked to remix the track by speeding it up and modulating the song to a higher key (halfway between B-flat and B, rather than in A). The remix saw major success as a number 1 single.