on 16 April 2007
The Slits are yet another one of those infuriatingly underrated bands who have never achieved the recognition they deserve, despite being highly praised by the likes of John Peel, John Lydon and Morrissey.
Lead singer Ari-up has an instantly recognisable voice, and the other musicians in the band have a quirky-sounding, reggae and dub influenced sound which is rich in innovation, deeply inventive and often very infectious.
Their cover of 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' is a partiuclarly love it or loathe it moment, but it certainly sounds assertive, self-assured and gutsy, especially coming from people had only formed a band shortly before recording their debut and were little more than musical novices. But this is what makes the Slits so important - their D.I.Y. ethos, which should be at the heart of all music.
The result is that they create often very unusual and sometimes very multi-cultural music. The likes of 'So Tough' is an excellent example of this, almost begging to be played in a dancehall, performed with gusto. 'Spend, Spend, Spend' also has a definite dub aura to it.
The Slits lyrics are also excellent and challenging. 'Shoplifting', in particular is a two-fingered salute to 'The Man', and commerical consumerism in general, whilst the likes of 'New Town' is almost pure reggae, which, coming from a group of musically inexperienced teenagers, is very impressive indeed.
'Ping-Pong Affair' is yet another lyrically inventive creation of Ari-Up's, arguably one of the most talented young songwriter's of the punk era. The guitar work, and in particular the drumming are carried out with great enthusiasm, and whilst far from technically perfect, they sound more than competent, and more importantly, authentic.
'Love Und Romance', one of the Slits more famous songs, is probably the lyrical highlight of the album, decrying the banality and trapping of love, romance and marriage, mocking the conventionality of it and ridiculing the mindless, banal sheep who embrace marriage, thus halving their individuality, becoming cliches in the process. This song is a lasting testament to the challenging, thought-provoking and cliche-worrying charisma of the Slits. After all, which is more interesting and exciting - being in a band and seeing a bit of the world, or getting married and 'settling down'?
'Typical Girls' continues on in this challenging theme, sneeringly recalling all of the cliches which women are expected to conform to. It is almost an urge to all women to stop being conventional and start doing the unexpected. Which is exactly what the Slits did - and at a very young age, too.
'Adventures Close To Home' also sounds musically inventive and self-assured, being equally authentic and quirky. The music is subtle and stylish, whilst 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' is pop perfection, sneering at the idea that some songs should not be covered. Why not? This version improves on the original for innovation, Ari-Up's voice sounding it's most authentic.
The Slits are one of a kind, a group of intelligent and feisty young women, who will probably appeal to women who have intelligence and opinions, women whose main ambition in life is not having 2.4 children whilst spending a lifetime pandering to and being subservient to some man. I rejoice at the fact that at least a few women within music have had some concerns other than love, romance, their libido or generally just propping up the fragile male ego.