Until Cornershop came along in 1991, mainstream British rock and pop had never been that welcoming to the new Asian sounds emanating from immigrant communities nationwide. There were exceptions, but the pressure on musicians not to wander into new sonic communities was always there. Cornershop broke this apart. With their roots in indie rock as much as dance music, reggae and the odd bit of Punjabi pop, Tjinder Singh and Ben Avery have come to music with their ears wide open and the volume cranked up.
And to dispel any doubts, the opening ‘Who Fingered Rock ’n’ Roll?’ is so gloriously overblown that it’s almost a pastiche. Guitars blast, synthesizers go mad and a group of gospel harmonizers strain for the heavens as sitar strings twang. It’s superb, and its breezy nature sets the mood for an album that happily raids disco, soul and Bob Dylan (a cover of his ‘Mighty Quinn’ is well delivered). But what really makes Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast matter is that it’s far from a simply constructed bricolage. Singh and Avery write with a clear sense of engagement. ‘Shut Southall Down’ – a short sonic history of the 1979 race riot in a London suburb – is the most overt statement here, but the anti-war stance of ‘The Roll-Off Characteristics (Of History in the Making)’ comes a close second. Beyond this, Cornershop practise a tricky game of cat-and-mouse with the music industry that, like it or not, they are part of. But it’s their humour – together with a love of the music – that shines throughout.
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