Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ari Up

Sadly, it's obit time for an old heroine of mine who has died (reportedly from cancer) at the ridiculously young age of 48. Good god, that's only a year older than me. Ouch.

I'm only too well aware that most of my friends probably hadn't even heard of Ari Up (born Arianna Forster in 1962) and were unlikely ever to have done so. Nonetheless, her influence on music was vast through the works of her band the Slits; particularly the earlier work leading up to and including the 1979 album Cut.
Ari Up personified punk in a way that the bigger names simply couldn't - when the Slits first began they were genuinely barely capable of playing more than a couple of chords on their guitars, yet using the massive influence of Jamaican music and their own raw, youthful energy they created a very special sound indeed. That sound never truly made it onto record; the Slits belonged to the live arena and the charts were pretty well untroubled by Ari's hard-edged and distinctive vocal style. The closest the Slits came to commercial success was the single Typical Girls which reached number 60. Its flip side was a very left-field rendition of Marvin Gaye's I Heard it Through the Grapevine, which has come to be regarded as something of a classic version over the years.

This is the original video to promote Typical Girls, delightfully amateurish and shot with a budget of about tuppence ha'penny. It's a boppy little tune with a genuine bitterness underlying the bounce-along beat; I love it. Ari was 17 when they did this.

So, from the little corner of the world that is Millbrook, and from one old punk who didn't manage to follow the dream and the lifestyle like Ari Up, the thought that we're all a bit poorer for her not being around any more. I shall play Cut to the unsuspecting film clubbers this very evening - perhaps not the greatest tribute, but it'll be my little bit.

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