Unpredictable and spontaneous, subordination seemed to be at the very heart of the Slits (pretty evident in the name really), despite taking the meaning of anarchy to a new level throughout their performances ironically it is there musical craftmanship which will be most revered since Ari-Up’s recent passing (related to an undisclosed illness aged 48) in late 2010, as funnily enough they did really good songs.
Bridging an unexplored gap between reggae and punk, they wrote intelligently honest and humourous lyrics that your average girl could relate to in an ever dominated, male and fecklessly confused climate of contemporary post war Britain, most famously in ‘Typical Girls’ containing the lyrics ‘looking for something’ and ‘feel like hell’ implying the usual notions of the female species as emotionally co-dependant and physically constrained and their signature interpretation of Marvin Gaye’s soul classic Heard It Through The Grapevine(still a popular request on indie dancefloors alongside New Order’s Blue Monday to this day) the Slits spawned a gaggle of admirers such as Mercury Prize winner P.J Harvey which is quite obvious if you listen to the lyrics of ‘Dress’ in which she assesses the trappings of her garment making her body feel like a ‘heavy loaded fruit tree’…
And the notorious grunge group formed by Courtney Love accountable for spawning the 90’s generation of ‘Riot Grrrl’s’ up to the latest girl band sensation LA psych quintet Warpaint who hold several parallels to The Slits through being rated mostly on their melodic capability. Yet somehow the Slits never seemed to receive the same level of recognition as their punk contempories i.e The Sex Pistols and The Clash.
So let it be said to the likes of Madonna, and Lady Gaga (who according the The Slits as quoted recently in NME is concerned solely with the process of selling sex as a transaction, through which the main motivation is the profiting of rich businessman) you owe these women your artistic freedom. Finally Ari Up -always a bright larger than life character, for all the lost little girls your words have anchored, rest assured your screechy call still rings as clear.
‘I loved the Slits. They were genuine.It was Ari I loved. I still have a crush on her. They were the real article, really amateur. They were the worst of the worst.They were so bad it was appalling. Thats what you loved about them.’ -Gene Knell, punk clothing entrepreneur.