[25] Cornershop, ‘Lessons Learned From Rocky I To Rocky III’

Lessons Learned From Rocky I To Rocky III

Here’s a word to the wise, pop pickers: after years of toil, don’t have a massive hit. The pop kids only want you for your Norman Cook-remixed body, and your abandoned friends will never feel the same way about you again. More’s the pity, because there was more to come. ‘Lessons Learned…’ would have been as high as No.26 here on the strength of its title alone; it’s bumped up a place to 25 because it’s buttoned-down brilliant. Tjinder Singh’s spiky, quotable lyrics set to a royal stagecoach of a riff make this the best T. Rex record in 30 years (sorry, Supergrass).

Junior says: “Moving my shoulders like this makes my drawing zig-zaggy.” Well, quite.

Best bit: DING-DING-DING-DING.

[2] Cornershop, ‘Brimful Of Asha’

Not the crazee Norman Cook remix and its forced jollity and helium vocals. This is the real deal, one of the cutest 45s in years. No other record has so successfully married a tribute to Asha Bhosle and a paean to the 7” single. God knows many have tried.

Junior takes the opportunity, as Marc Bolan – an obvious Cornershop influence – once sang, to “ride a green, blue and red snail like the people of the Beltane”. It’s a rocking horse, in the form of a snail. You know the sort of thing. Before saddling up, she was boogieing along and wondering if this really could be the same band that got caught up in all that Riot Grrl nonsense. Damn the NME. They know how to brand a band.

I was surprised to clock that this is five minutes long. It’s so concise and trim, with just enough embellishment in the strings and handclaps, that you think it’s the classic three-minute pop song. Tjinder Singh also ticks another of my favourite boxes by trying the ‘Young Americans’ trick of fitting too many words in each line. He succeeds where many a Manic Street Preacher has failed.

God. It should be No.1. It’s just that the next song ate rock music, spat it out and ruined its own makers.

[13] Fatboy Slim, ‘Praise You’

Fatboy Slim

This record is painfully 1999. It would get laughed out of town if it showed its big beaty face these days, wacky Spike Jonze video or not. Norman Cook had a way with a pop tune, admittedly – this, ‘Rockafeller Skank’ and ‘Gangster Trippin’ all grabbed you first time – but they were guaranteed to annoy your teeth out within a few plays.

It’s getting harder to measure Junior’s reactions, now that she’s a baby scud forever homing in on the living room’s most vulnerable points. This was the first time she’d made a beeline towards the stereo, however, desperate paw reaching out for the amplifier. Norm, mate, I think she was trying to put you out of your misery.

I remember reading interviews with The Housemartins back in the day. The others used to take the rise out of Quentin, ribbing him for his love of soul, funk, hip hop and dance when he was in this itchy pop band. You have to say he had the last laugh: the drummer went down for trying to brain some chap with an axe, Stan Cullimore ended up in Basic Instinct 2, obviously, and Paul Heaton was last seen releasing a compilation of his favourite soul, funk, hip hop and dance tunes. Pah.