Music: Pop: As if by magic the shopkeepers appeared
Friday 27 February 1998
Back in 1992, musicianship (dirty word) took second place to er... revolutionary use ie the music was provocative without actually being pleasing to the ear. By January of the following year, this paper wrote that the band were "refreshingly inept on their instruments", but a year later condemned them as having stage "absence rather than presence". Or perhaps, as Gary Walker, head of their label (Wiiija Records) puts it: "Yes their first record overreached their abilities, but they had a lot of ideas. Far more than most debut albums.
But at least they scraped together enough money to get by? Times were so hard for the Anglo-Asian combo that only the lead singer and song-writer, Tjinder Singh was a full- time member, while the others held down day jobs.
But was it a global lack of
interest, or a typical case of parochialism? The British music industry is unlike its US cousins in that it always expects immediate results. "Bands are propelled to the charts after a couple of gigs," says Walker, "rather than maturing, getting where they want to be." By 1995, with the release of Woman's Gotta Have It, and a US deal with David Byrne's Luaka Bop label, critics everywhere else picked up on the music's confidence and its success in fusing musical styles - for example, bhangra, the Velvet Underground and the Rolling Stones in the mantra-like drone of "6am Jullandar Shere", sung in Punjabi.
So their (half) Asian background has been a defining factor, or even a stumbling block to success? "Obviously there is racism in the industry," says Singh. "There is resistance to anyone who is different." But their finest riposte, in the face of the prejudice, and to those who have criticised them for blurring the distinction between eclectic and derivative, is their Punjabi translation of Lennon and McCartney's "Norwegian Wood". The closing track on their new album, it claims back Oriental themes borrowed (pilfered wholesale) since the late Sixties.
What was the secret of eventual success? The critics raved about their latest album release, When I Was Born for the Seventh Time. "It was a similar situation with Pulp," says Walker. "What they were doing artistically eventually gelled with the public." (Helped in no small part by a supporting slot on stage with the cut- -and-pasters of rock's back catalogue, Oasis - that plus an adrenaline-pumped big-beat remix by the producer of the moment, Norman Cook; and a soundtrack role on a Caffrey's ad can't have done any harm either.)
But are their lyrics still suffused with political venom? "We don't care about no government warnings" is a gentle allusion to radical times past, but when it comes to, say, "everybody needs a bosom"...
Pardon? "Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow..."
Very Nineties. Very the personal is the political. Maybe, but doesn't it make you want to grin like a little kid?
arts + entsThere were towering ideas, some scintillating performances and revelatory grooves... our writers pick out their personal highlights
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
elephant appealPrince William signs up for our charity appeal
peoplePrepare to be entranced by worms as the molecular biologist gets ready to give the Royal Institution science lectures
elephant appealSo says man jailed for cutting off dead elephant's tusks
booksWe examine the best titles for teens
voicesPeople moan that Christmas is too commercial, the spirit lost. But it is a time to over-indulge, and always has been, says DJ Taylor
scienceResearchers teach border collie to understand sentences using more than 1,000 words
booksA Christmas story in six parts
travelWill high-value tourism help the workshops of this Renaissance city?
food + drinkA trifle without custard? Surely not! Nonsense – and here’s three to finish your festive meal that prove it
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Life & Style blogs
Drunken assaults, drug abuse, spiked drinks – and a young couple in a pine tree: Not a very merry Christmas for the paramedics
The 10 Best Scotch Whiskies
America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
GTA 5: Rockstar bans gamers stealing in-game money worth millions
Winter Solstice 2013: Shortest day of the year marked with 'knitted' Google Doodle
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
David Cameron takes his biggest gamble yet as he gets tough on Europe over immigration
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
Top PR exec Justine Sacco under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
- 1 Top PR exec Justine Sacco under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 The publisher who played with fire: the battle for control of Larsson's £30m legacy
- 5 Police seize possessions of rough sleepers in crackdown on homelessness
£40000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer (WPF...
£45000 - £65000 per annum + London: Harrington Starr: Senior Automation QA Eng...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Year 6 Teacher - Gilli...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Teacher of English - S...