Thursday, July 14, 2005

Return Of The Punky Reggae

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Ari Up, former lead singer of post-punk icons The Slits, released a new album here in the US this week called Dread More Dan Dead.

The Slits were a bunch of teenagers when they got together in 1976. Singer Ari Up was a 14 year old, posessed of one hell of a scary set of pipes, screaming and warbling and yelping through a shambolic, dub groove heavy set of post-punk tunes. Their seminal 1979 debut Cut, produced by reggae star Dennis Bovell, is a record that has held up well. It finally got a US reissue this year with a few bonus cuts on it, including their stellar version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine. I love the tune Typical Girls, something that this trio were definitely not. It's got a great beat, terrific piano pounding, scratchy guitars and Ari's great vocals. We need more Slits reissues!

Over the last few years I've seen her name around a bit more. She did guest vocals on the German electronica act Terranova's 2002 album Hitchhiking Nonstop With No Particular Destination. There is no mistaking her voice on Mongril, a rocking electro dancehall tune.

The new album Dread More Dan Dead is a very entertaining listen. It's a mix of dub, reggae, hip hop, rock and post-punk flavors mixed up in a digital styl-ee (and there is also another collaboration with Terranova). Baby Mother kicks off the album in bumpin' style, with a cool clicky beat and sweet sample chopping, topped off with a nice toast-y rap from Ari. Her voice hasn't really changed, thought there isn't as much of the high pitched, shrill warbling she used to do. All in all I would sat that the new album is a very nice update of her old style for the year 2005.


Loki said...

Excellent stuff... I love Ari Up; everything she touches is immediately elevated...haven't heard the Terranova album but I did hear a single she did with them (isn't she more or less a permanent member now?) - in fact, it was one of the first things I posted I think...

Jeffrey Siegel said...

Been a long time since this ol' punk rocker heard Slits music - reminds me of the good old days of the mid-Seventies when I was at college and everything seemed possible in music...thanks!