I discovered The Sultans of Ping F.C. for myself. Rummaging through used CD bins in London shops on my first trip to the U.K. back in 1999, I saw a bunch of discs from the Sultans. They looked cool, and the song titles were silly -- "Where's Me Jumper?" and that -- and so I bought a few and fell in love with the band. Similar to an act like Ned's Atomic Dustbin, The Sultans made ramshackle, New Wave-y punk-pop that tickled the funny-bone and set the foot to tapping. Thankfully, the first record from the group, Casual Sex In The Cineplex (1992),, is being reissued with a whole lot of bonus tracks thanks to the folks at Cherry Red Records.
The debut is, of course, as buoyant as ever, with the tracks here foreshadowing the sort of thing one would find a bit later on early releases from bands as disparate as Ash and Supergrass. "Indeed You Are", "Stupid Kid", and "You Talk Too Much" positively bounce with energy, the riffs sharp and the tunes exceedingly punchy. Yes, the songs here are a bit goofy and funny but the humor fits, and rarely does Sultans of Ping F.C. seem like a joke band, as they invariably ride a hook as hard as they ride any funny bit. Elsewhere, there's some near-loveliness on "Veronica" and real power-pop punch on "Kick Me With Your Leatherboots", a tougher song than you probably remember this band being capable of producing. On the whole, Casual Sex In The Cineplex (1992) holds up fairly well, rarely sounding dated or 26 years old.
On Disc 2 here we get the rarities, singles, and EP tracks and whatnot. "Crash Pad Chick" roars impressively, while a live version of "Football Hooligan" returns to a familiar concern for this band (footie). Elsewhere, there's an EP version of "Stupid Kid", and "Riot At The Sheepdog Trials", one of the band's best known bits of goofiness. And who couldn't love a band who'd pen an ode to "Robocop" complete with a sample of star Peter Weller?
At their very best, The Sultans of Ping F.C. were capable of making largely disposable punk-pop that found itself caught between the death of one genre and the rise of a few others. Perhaps if the band had come up a few years later, they'd have had more success and found more acceptance. Still, in the drab pre-Britpop wilderness of 1992, The Sultans of Ping F.C. were a big, bright explosion of power-pop that -- remarkably -- still sounds fantastic!
Casual Sex in the Cineplex is out in a fantastic 2-disc edition from Cherry Red Records on Friday.