What an odd situation, when an extremely obscure album you spent years and years hunting for is reissued in a 2 CD deluxe expanded edition, and is sitting there in stock on the Canadian Amazon store. 17 bonus tracks (16 of which I’ve never heard before in my life) now sit alongside the core 12 album classics in my collection. The world is a better place for it.
We reviewed Casual Sex in the Cineplex by the Sultans of Ping F.C. back in 2013, but it deserves another look now that it’s been expanded.
Casual Sex boasts a fun but snearing punky side, accompanied by hilarious shrieky lead vocals and lyrics to match. Top this confection with an Irish accent and loud guitars! Opener “Back in the Tracksuit” is a perfect example of this recipe: a blast of punk guitars & drums with the bizarrely catchy lead vocals of Niall O’Flaherty. Half the time, we couldn’t figure out what he was singing. “Indeed You Are” sounds like he’s singing “Konichiwa!” So that’s the way we sing it.
The relaxed poppier songs are just as good. “Veronica” is a cute serenade with strings and harmonica. Perhaps it’s inspired by early period Beatles, filtered through the Sultans’ own bedraggled lenses. “2 Pints of Rasa” is in a similar spirit: a stroll through the park on a sunny Saturday afternoon “drinking with the guys”…and with strings! In the lyrics, O’Flaherty proclaims to his girl of interest, “but I still like you, you are my ice cream.” Write that one down for the next time you’re with your significant others.
A broadside shot of breakneck guitars kick off “Stupid Kid”. The infectious chorus goes on for days. “You’re stupid, S-T-U-P-I-D kid!” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more entertaining combination of snark and melody. “Stupid Kid” is among the best tunes on the album. “You Talk Too Much” is its twin brother, shrieks and surf-rock drums notwithstanding.
A rollicky bass intro kicks off “Give Him a Ball (And a Yard of Grass)”, and the body surfing begins! You can’t hear what O’Flaherty is singing for most of it, but it hardly matters. You can sing along as if you do, and nobody will notice. The party has only one lull: “Karaoke Queen” is OK, a little slack, but it is quickly followed by “Let’s Go Shopping”. It’s another one of those sentimental Sultans numbers about, well, going shopping. We always found the jubilant lyrics quite mirthful:
Put on your flip-flops and we’ll go shopping, dear
Put on your flip-flops, we’ll go flip-flopping, dear
You can buy crisps and I can buy jam,
You push the trolley, I’ll push the pram.
The sentiment stops there, since the next song is entitled “Kick Me With Your Leather Boots”! That means you can count on brisk, boisterous shenanigans. As a bonus, the lyrics planted the seed for me to seek out Schaffner’s bizarre conspiracy movie The Boys From Brazil. “Clitus Clarke” approaches being skip-worthy, but who cares since the final song is our favourite, “Where’s Me Jumper?”
My brother knows Karl Marx
He met him eating mushrooms in the public park
He said ‘What do you think of my manifesto?’
I like your manifesto, put it to the testo.
This album would be worth buying just for the one song. “Dancing at the Disco, bumper to bumper,” but then disaster! “Wait a minute — where’s me jumper?!” Niall goes on to complain that “It’s alright to say things can only get better. You haven’t lost your brand new sweater.” True, true. “My mother will be so, so angry.” But it’s impossible not to grin ear to ear like a gleeful hooligan by the end of it.
For years the original 12 tracks were all we had. Later Sultans albums could be found in the wild, but T-Rev always said the fun wasn’t there. He even found the single for “You Talk Too Much” which had “Japanese Girls” on the B-side. Nothing to him was as essential as the first album, which is easy to listen to end-to-end and then do all over again. Which is usually the way we listened to it.
How does adding 17 rarities change the listening experience?
Not badly, as it turns out. The bonus CD is only a punky 42 minutes long so it never becomes an exercise in testing patience. Seeing that information about this band is scarce already, it’s impossible to know how “complete” the bonus CD is with rarities. It seems to compile Sultans EP and single B-sides from 1991 to 1993. Other Sultans deluxe editions are out there comprising the later albums.
None of the bonus tracks are as indispensable as disc one, but that’s not the point. A blast of a time will still be had, with more of the same sound that endeared us to the band in the first place. There’s an early version of “Stupid Kid” from a 1991 EP, and a live recording of “Indeed You Are” from a 1993 EP called Teenage Punks. “Miracles” (from 1991) adds a hint of the Ramones to the stew. B-side “I Said I Am I Said” is fun like the album and makes a fine addition. Check out “Robo Cop”, and the live track “Football Hooligan” for a couple more songs that are hard to resist. Some, like “Turnip Fish” are just weird and more like early Alice Cooper.
Great to have more early Sultans, all in one place. Get yours.