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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ari Up Memorial by Sam Ott

So, I think I heard about the Slits when I was 16 and sitting in my friend Shane's room at some Oakland punk house. He had a record of the Slits' demos (?) some bootleg of something or other.

I remember thinking how primal it sounded, the drumming reminded me of the tom tom drumming from Bow Wow Wow, who I love/d. How it sounded, maybe, like something my friends and I could do.

Then I bought Cut, and it boggled my mind! As someone who grew up listening to 80s/90s hardcore, reggae was at most an annoyance that plagued the stoner dudes I went to high school with- dub wasn't even on my radar.

The rhythms on Cut, the vocal patterns, the basslines! It was revelatory- I owned Clash records but never paid attention to their influences, but listening to Cut made me hear all of it- made me seek out connections like Don Letts and On U and Adrian Sherwood, and even though it took me years to draw all the lines inbetween, the Slits led me to the Raincoats, the Pop Group, dancehall, dub, Trojan Records, Lee Perry and Junior Mervin.

Not to even mention that the Slits were the age I was when I joined my first band. I still can't believe that anyone so young could make music so perfect, so dynamic, so wild.

I had a friend who bootlegs videos for a living make me a Slits VHS, it's the only thing I ever paid him for.

I love Ari Up's voice, her lyrics, her wildness, her sexiness, her weird patois, and I'm heartbroken that she's dead.

I hope there's an army of 14 year olds ready to make records just as awesome. I bet there is.



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