Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Slits Full of Grits

The Slits' live show in Atlanta last month was fantastic. Ari Up is an energetic performer, with exuberant charm and humor. She was a teenager when the Slits began (and Johnny Rotten was living with her mom!), so she must be only in her mid-forties now. She announced onstage that the band had enjoyed a Southern breakfast that morning: "The Slits are full of grits!"

Ari and (original Slits bassist) Tessa clearly enjoyed playing their old songs. They did a number of songs from Cut, including "Newtown", "Shoplifting", and "Instant Hit", as well as "Kill Them with Love" from this year's new EP. The new band members sounded good, and I got an instant crush on Adele.

Ari and Tessa deserve to be proud of their music. I was struck that night by how successfully their songs blend punk and reggae. While other bands of the era (like the Clash and Stiff Little Fingers) performed punk versions of reggae songs, they never loosened up on the strict 4/4 beat, except to hit the chords on the 2 and 4. The Slits actually adopted the looser feel and loping rhythms of Jamaican music, and created a more organic fusion of punk, reggae, and their own inventive chants. I think the Slits influenced both PiL and Malcolm McLaren (from Bow Wow Wow to "Buffalo Gals").

Here is an excellent remix of Heard It through the Grapevine that I found while searching through a series of tubes for the Slits' version of Man Next Door (which I later realized I already owned, since it was included in Rough Trade's classic compilation album Wanna Buy a Bridge.)

Buy Revenge of the Killer Slits and more from Midheaven.


At 12/13/2006 10:45 AM , Anonymous davis said...


The San Francisco Remix in 2006 of the Slits

At 12/18/2006 5:37 PM , Blogger Slits Fan said...

They were even better the next night.

To answer your question, Ari is 44.

At 12/22/2006 8:16 AM , Blogger irkthepurists said...

Excellent stuff. Greatly enjoyed the remix--how recent is this? Not contemporaneous, presumably...

In (slightly) related vein, the late Joe Strummer's World Service show (2 hours of punk, reggae, rock and roll and more) has been broadcast on BBC 6Music this week, and you can catch it again all this week at http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music/shows/

(It's split up into 4 chunks over 4 nights).

Cheers, Jon! Have a great Christmas, and I look forward to reading more of your stuff in 2007.

At 12/22/2006 10:47 AM , Blogger jon manyjars said...

I honestly don't know when that remix was made, or by whom. Slits fans may also be interested to know that the label Blast First Petite plans to reissue the band's second album, Return of the Giant Slits (not to be confused with this year's EP, Revenge of the Giant Slits).

At 12/22/2006 10:48 AM , Blogger jon manyjars said...

I meant Revenge of the KILLER Slits. I told you it was confusing.


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