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Woman's Gotta Have It is the second full-length album from the eclectic group Cornershop. It was released in 1995 and totals fifty one minutes and twelve seconds in length over eleven tracks. The album was produced by Cornershop frontman Tjinder Singh and was released by Luaka Bop and distributed by Warner Bros.

For those of you unfamiliar with the music of Cornershop, they use a wide variety of instrumentation and studio tricks to create a sound that is a mix of Western rock and hip-hop and Eastern influences, particularly Punjabi. The result is an amazing audio mix of elements that sounds both unusual and incredible to my Western ears.

The title of the album is clear from the cover, which depicts a very sad looking model, covered in layers of makeup, lying on the ground. The inside of the sleeve pictures various perfumes and makeups, but the idea is that what the woman needs isn't such material things, but love. The effect is visually clear and very well done.

Musically, this was the album where they came of age. A few tracks on this album are absolutely amazing, and the whole album has a consistent level of quality that really wasn't there in their earlier albums and eps. Yet they weren't quite there yet. To make an analogy to another groundbreaking group from the UK, this is their Rubber Soul, and their next album, When I Was Born For The 7th Time, is their Revolver. That's not to take anything away from this very solid album; it's just that many of the tracks are more straightforward rock numbers, lacking the immense creativity that would mark their next album.

This album opens with one of the best tracks the band has ever done, 6 A.M. Jullandar Shere (6:22). This song, like its partner that closes the album, is sung entirely in Punjabi, but the music is so pure that it crosses the language barrier and really clicks. It takes excellent music to cross the language barrier to truly affect someone, and it is the sign of a great songwriter; three songs on this album manage to do that. It has a very simple and infectious melody and the song is largely led by the placid strumming of a tamboura. If you haven't ever heard music sung in a non-English language that has really affected you, give this one a try; it's amazing.

Unfortunately, most of the middle of the disc fails to live up to the promise of the opener. Hong Kong Book Of Kung Fu (3:23) is a fill-in-the-numbers rocker that does nothing special of note whatsoever. It's sung in English, but other than make me laugh at the title's reference to a cartoon from my youth, this song did absolutely nothing for me. It's a standard rocker.

Just like the previous track is a standard rocker, this is a standard soft rocker. Roof Rack (3:48) again isn't anything particularly special and there's really nothing at all about it that is noteworthy.

The fourth song is one of the good ones here. My Dancing Days Are Done (3:30) is a duet between two Punjabi singers, Parsley and Sasha Andrews, whose voices come together very well. Like the two Jullandar Shere tracks, this one really clicks for me even though it is sung in Punjabi.

The next song is interesting for the fact that it gives a five second clear glimpse at what was to come from the group. Call All Destroyer (3:24) opens with a five second interlude where Tjinder Singh is randomly mumbling over the hook from what would be their biggest hit, Brimful of Asha, on their next album, When I Was Born For The 7th Time. After the first five seconds, it descends into another standard rock track, but it's interesting for a fan who discovered Cornershop's catalog in reverse (as many have) to hear this little bit.

Camp Orange (3:48) is a very sedate chant song that comes off very well, much like {We're In Yr Corner] from their next album. The gentle wandering chants really work wonders and make this into an interesting gentle track.

Wog (3:12) is interesting, using a tape loop of a sitar piece and Tjinder on some very mellow vocals here. The vocals are about a person torn between being a Westerner and an Easterner and the sedate vocals add a contemplative feel to the song.

Jansimram King (3:34) is another pretty standard rock track with alternation between very mellow verses and hard rocking choruses. It's almost frustrating to hear songs like this on the same album as the Jullandar Shere songs, Camp Orange, and My Dancing Days Are Done.

Looking For A Way In (7:48) is another standard pop/rock song, but this is by far the best one on the album, with a very catchy little hook that sinks its teeth into your mind. I've found myself humming and singing this song on more than one occasion, which is a sure sign of a catchy hook.

The album closes as well as it opens, with the fantastic 7:20 A.M. Jullandar Shere (13:15). It is a nine minute reprisal of the opener with only the slightest of change in tempo, and it is fantastic, truly amazing stuff, just like the opener. The last three minutes of the track constitute a hidden song of some sort, with heavily distorted vocals that really sounds like an experimental piece; it's largely forgettable, though.

The album as a whole comes off as uncertain, almost as though they knew some of the more esoteric tracks were good, but were afraid to go full bore with it and resorted to standard rock-style tracks. It was the same effect that hamstringed The Beatles on their album Rubber Soul, and like the fab four, Cornershop would go on with courage from here to record some amazing things.

However, this album is worth picking up if for nothing else than the amazing fifteen minutes worth of Jullandar Shere. Those two Jullandar Shere tracks may be the best music the band has ever done, and that includes their amazing When I Was Born For The 7th Time album. If you enjoyed this one, pick up that album as well.

Cornershop's "Woman's Gotta Have It" is one of my top five favorite albums.

It is a perfect fillerless rock record.

Much has been said about 6 A.M. Jullandar Shere and i have little to add. It should be the anthem of the world - it is truly international, bringing together East and West, America and Europe and Asia, Islam and Hinduism and Christianity. According to the translation on the Luaka Bop website,

Some people say that the right path is simply for the purpose of going to heaven,
But the right path is not just for the purpose of going to heaven,
The right way is different for different people,
Let us live in union - then we all win, win.

... But English can't convey the power of the original Punjabi. That's how an Indian movie would sound if you would replace Lata Mangeshkar with Pavement. That's the record that The Velvet Underground would record if they would tour Pakistan instead of dabbling with Andy Warhol in their first years together. This is what George Harrison should have written for Sgt. Pepper instead of Within You Without You.

Hong Kong Book of Kung Fu is a mega-rocker, a rollercoaster of headbanging punk.

My Dancing Days Are Done is sung in French. When i read Life of Pi i kept thinking that when a movie based on that book is made, that's the song that should be played in the Pondicherry parts.

Camp Orange beats the crap out of Deep Forest and Enigma. Remember them? Well, forget them please.

Wog is a great three chord simple guitar piece, which nevertheless sounds very well. It acts as the soothing piece before two blazing rockers - Jansimran King and Looking for a Way In.

This is a nearly-overlooked masterpiece of an album.

When all areas are blocked
This path is strength and refuge for all

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