talks about the latest releases in the music world

Chart Chat Classic Album – Cornershop – ‘Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast’ (Released 27th July 2009)

Chart Chat Classic Album – Cornershop – ‘Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast’ (originally released 27th July 2009)

This was Cornershop’s fifth album, and followed on from the top thirty success of ‘Handcream For A Generation’.  If ever there was evidence that the charts are dominated by big labels with clever marketing budgets then this is it, because this is an album which could, would or should have contained several hits.  Instead it was largely overlooked at the time, but if this review helps a handful of fans to discover this lost classic then my writing will have been worthwhile.

I love so many of the bands songs, but some which stand out are ‘Good To Be On The Road Back Home’ (which featured a contribution from the American singer songwriter Paula Frazer), ‘Houston Hash’ (the lead track on their ‘Battle For New Orleans’ EP) and the update of ‘Born Disco, Died Heavy Metal’ which appeared on their ‘Hold On It’s Easy’ album. With so many outstanding tunes it remains a musical injustice that they are only known by the mainstream public for the Norman Cook remix of their ‘Brimful Of Asha’ hit. There is just so much more to them.

‘Who Fingered Rock N Roll’ opens this album and is classic Cornershop, all rock n roll and sitars. It comes complete with a big chorus, and backing singers featuring higher in the mix than you might expect. It features the same kind of big guitars and heavy production which was to be found on their 2002 top forty hit ‘Lessons Learned From Rocky I To Rocky III’. In a parallel universe it would have been a respectable top forty hit but airplay wasn’t forthcoming.

‘Soul School’ followed on, a track that was chosen to lead the three track EP ‘School Of Soul’ while the School Dinners Mix of the track featured on their ‘The Battle Of New Orleans EP’. An animated video was made to accompany the track, and at the time of writing this has been viewed over 93,000 times.

‘Half Brick’ is a fifty two second slice of 70’s disco with a Master of Ceremonies introduction played over the top, and it links us through to the title track.  ‘Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast’ is perhaps not as immediate as the opening three tracks, but it’s still a decent listen and not a song you would skip over.

‘Shut Southall Down’ is another short track, clocking in at just over a minute, and one that you would listen to in the context of the album, but probably not one that you would play too often on its own. ‘Free Love’ comes next, and it is slower than some of the earlier tracks while its playing time of five minutes thirty eight seconds make it the longest song on the album. It has more of a dance leaning rather than rock n roll, and it’s distorted vocals give it a distinctive feel.

‘The Roll Of Characteristics (Of History In The Making)’ was the albums lead single. The promotional video to it was first uploaded back in May 2009 and has been viewed over 50,000 times since then. Again, with some airplay you could have imagined this being a top twenty hit but mainsteam radio shunned this album and it’s associated singles.

‘Operation Push’ shows the bands diversity with the track possessing almost a reggae feel to it, while ‘Mighty Quinn’ is a cover of the Manfred Mann classic. They don’t dabble with many covers, but their take on The Beatles ‘Norwegian Wood’ was a moment of real beauty. Anyone interested in hearing that should check out their earlier album ‘When I Was Born For The 7th Time’.

‘The Constant Springs’ moves us closer to the albums conclusion and I personally love the lyrics “I’m Phil Fearon / You are Galaxy” while ‘Chamchu’ has almost a latin feel to its intro before the sitars and drums kick in.

The album closes with ‘The Turned On Truth (The Truth Is Turned On)’ which is more mid tempo that some of the other tracks, but it has some nice Hammond organ touches, and gospel style vocals which make it stand out. It’s an epic way to end the album with a running time just short of seventeen minutes.  But in reality those minutes fly by – what is it they say about time passing when you are having fun?

To be fair I could have picked any of the bands albums, and may yet return in the future to one of their other offerings, but this is probably my favourite.  Tjinder Singh knows how to write songs of real depth, and ones that will leave you dancing and singing. So many songs, and so many musical genres are on offer.  If you haven’t heard anything other than ‘Brimful Of Asha’ then this might be as good a place as any to start…

Ian Anderson

28 March, 2015 Posted by | ChartChat | Leave a comment

Chart Chat Album Review : Mark Knopfler – ‘Tracker’ (Released 16th March 2015)

Chart Chat Album Review : Mark Knopfler – ‘Tracker’ (16.03.15)

Mark’s solo career began back in 1983 when he worked on the soundtrack to ‘Local Hero’. That became the first of eight soundtrack albums, with the most recent being ‘A Shot At Glory’ in 2002. Fast forward to March 2015 and we see the release of ‘Tracker’, his eighth studio album which has already become his first to reach the top three. Some fans still hark back to his Dire Straits days, asking when they might reform and record new material, but it has been twenty four years now since ‘On Every Street’ topped the charts, and barring a live album ‘On The Night’ in 1993 the band have been completely inactive ever since.

Over the years he has created himself as a very successful album artist, with seven of his eight studio albums reaching the top ten. That contrasts with just two top forty hit singles; ‘Darling Pretty’ which reached no.33 in 1996 and then ‘Boom Like That’ which peaked at no.34 in 2004. His songs however have continued to receive airplay, and tracks such as ‘Going Home’ and ‘What It Is’ are instantly recognisable to radio audiences across the country.

It is clear that Mark knows how to craft a decent song, and everyone knows just how well he can play guitar. His solo output has tended to steer clear of the pop songs which made his career with Dire Straits, and this album is no different. The only song with a slightly more pop feel to it is ‘Beryl’, a track which was inspired by the British novelist Beryl Bainbridge.  A video consisting of clips of the artist and her work was compiled to promote the single, and at the time of writing it had received over 24k views.  It is also the shortest song on offer here with nine of the eleven main tracks clocking in at over five minutes in length.

The album kicks off with ‘Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes’, a bluesy track which conjurs up images of its title. You can imagine Mark performing this with his band in a smokey club somewhere.

Third track ‘River Towns’ is for me the highlight of the album with its feel reminding me of ‘Sailing To Philadelphia’, my favourite Knopfler song and title track of his fourth studio release.  It comes closely followed by ‘Skydiver’, a mid tempo toe tapper which displays some fine guitar work by Mark as the song develops. Meanwhile ‘Lights Of Taormina’ is another stand out track, and having visited this area of Sicily it certainly conjurs up the landscape in my mind.

Each listener will have their own opinion, and if I had one criticism it’s that the occasional track such as ‘Basil’ is just too slow. The whole album has a laid back feel, but sometimes it drops off altogether. ‘Mighty Man’ also falls into this category as does ‘Silver Eagle’.

The bonus edition comes with a further four tracks although in contrast to the rest of the album they are quite brief. ‘Heart Of Oak’ is a simple tune, and but is shorter than two minutes while ‘.38 Special’ is decent enough but still falls short of the three minute mark. Six minute epic ‘Terminal Of Tribute To’ is much more substantial and should have featured on the standard edition in my opinion. ‘My Heart Has Never Changed’ is fairly typical of the album, but doesn’t really stand out.

So in summary this is another solid collection of Mark’s songs.  As with most of his albums there are a few special tracks, but a few less memorable ones too. If you have his other studio releases then this will not disappoint.

Ian Anderson (@ChartChatUK)

28 March, 2015 Posted by | ChartChat | Leave a comment