Sad To See You Leaving 2010: Ari Up

by George_East on December 31, 2010

On the 10th anniversary of punk, Radio 1 broadcast a documentary series called ‘From Punk To Present‘. It intoduced me to loads of the second tier punk and post punk bands. That is second tier in the sense of not having had huge chart success or wider popular appeal, rather than in musical quality terms. A lot of these second tier bands (Wire, the Television Personalities, Gang of Four) would become some of my favourite bands in my late teens.

One of the bands I discovered in this way was The Slits, fronted by German born, Ari Up, who sadly died at the age of 48 this year. They were an all woman band with a strong feminist streak – their songs, amongst other things, attacked empty consumerism (Spend,Spend, Spend), the false romantic dreams sold to young girls (Love Und Romance) and female stereotypes.

It was their brilliant single, Typical Girls, that I first heard. They were one of the earliest punk bands forming in 1976 but like Siouxsie and The Banshees they were not signed until relatively late. Their debut album, Cut, was not released until 1979. They were signed to Chris Blackwell’s Island records, perhaps reflecting their interest in dub and reggae which infused their music. There was also something fantastically amaturish about their playing style – which always seemed discordant and chaotic.

The Slits must be the greatest name for an all-female band of all time – so much more confident and assertive than say The Bangles or The Runaways. And an obvious influence on Coutenay Love naming her band Hole.

Ari, who was John Lydon’s step-daughter, was 14 when The Slits formed. She was only 48 when she died of cancer.

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