Ping Pong Bitches by Ping Ping Bitches

The Sunday Mail seemed to live at the side of the couch until the next edition appeared. At this point in my life, when I was heading to college, the Sunday newspapers felt like a mandatory part of working class life. Everyone read the News of the World and (here in Scotland) the Sunday Mail. My family certainly did. I’m grateful though, because that’s how I discovered The Ping Pong Bitches. The world’s least likely girl group glowered out of the middle pages at me, all three of them stuck in the middle of a really dirty kitchen where severe parties had been held. I was torn between wanting to dance to loud music and wanting to put on my gloves and get the Domestos from the cupboard. They were punk rock with a dance backing track, a violent Shangri-Las who (if the article was to be believed) beat up their audience for getting too close. I was a fan before I even heard the music. I wanted to buy everything that Louise Prey, Emily Hell, and Mandy Wong would ever record. It wouldn’t be much, but of course I didn’t know that at the time. The next day, as I headed into college to study my first year of Communication And Media (PR in other words), I took a detour to Avalanche Records so I could buy Ping Pong Bitches by Ping Pong Bitches, as seen in The Sunday Mail.

Their pedigree was impressive. Signed by Alan McGee to his new post-Creation label Poptones, they’d already worked with Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) and Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music) for their debut. Impressive and for me, utterly irresistible. I was barely out of the shop when I had the CD inside my fancy new portable CD Walkman, which jumped whenever I walked. Honestly, I had to walk very slow to hear a full song. The EP played and I virtually crawled across the pavement. Beat You Up. It sounded like Donna Summer except Donna never sung about beating the shit out of her boyfriend for touching her hair. What they lacked in vocal power, they more than made up for in attitude. Hating Mariah Carey, I had an avowed love for limited range.

I Love You Necrophiliac played next and I knew the lyrics before the song even finished. Great stuff. Fun, silly, and campy. Heart attack, heart attack, necrophiliac! I was completely dedicated to my new favourite band. Rock Action, the third song, is brainless brilliance. Looped guitars and feedback with lyrics about leather jackets and motorbikes. Dynamite, the weakest song on the EP, is quickly followed by Chinese Song, which is the song that years later seems like a hint of something more complicated, if a band named Ping Pong Bitches could evolve into something outside their aesthetic. Whispered vocals, lyrics I presume to be spoken in Chinese, all create a gradual build up that doesn’t really go take off in any real way, yet doesn’t completely outstay its welcome. Some songs defy logic but work regardless.

They released their EP and then…silence….except in my headphones, where they continued.

Then slightly later in the midst of my Electroclash phase, they returned without Mandy Wong. I recognised their vocals immediately in the new Prodigy single Girls. Checking Yahoo to make sure, it confirmed my suspicion: Emily Hell and Louise Prey provided the vocals and Girls became another hit single for The Prodigy, giving Ping Pong Bitches a minor hit too. How unlikely, yet wonderful.

They released an album shortly afterwards, but I never liked it over their EP. For some reason it didn’t have the same appeal. I still listen to the EP and I enjoy it a lot. Why? I appreciate it for what it is, not what it isn’t. If you want a fun punk party record, then it’s perfect, especially Beat You Up. If you want mentally reaffirming lyrics, overwrought guitars, emotional piano…then Ping Pong Bitches are not your friends. I often wonder what happened to them. They seemingly disappeared completely. Are they still living in Edinburgh? Why did they sign to another label away from Alan McGee? Do they violently assault sexists on the stagecoach? Unlike music, some mysteries are better left undiscovered.

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