Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Dec 15th 2009 11:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
To make matters worse, the band was told it had just 30 minutes to perform. Clearly, this was going to be one for the ages. "We're going to be thrown off in five minutes," Up said at the top of the set. "We'll do the best five minutes ever."
In true punk fashion, the Slits ignored the time limit and played for just over 40 minutes. They looked rumpled and groggy, and their songs were riddled with false starts, sloppy changes and off-key vocals. Even so, the musicians remained in good spirits, and Up -- resplendent in ropey dreadlocks and a sort of glittery ghetto-fabulous Wonder Woman getup -- refused to let circumstances ruin her night.
"Welcome to a very Slitsy Christmas party," she said at one point, making herself giggle.
Up formed the Slits as a teenager in 1976, just as Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten -- the man who would soon become her stepfather -- was helping launch England's first wave of punk. The original incarnation of the Slits released three albums, the first of which, 1979's 'Cut,' features a uniquely fidgety and aggressive approximation of Jamaican music. Monday's short set included several 'Cut' tracks, including 'FM' -- short for "frequent mutilation" -- 'New Town' and the group's unofficial anthem, 'Typical Girls.'
Following the release of 1981's 'Return of the Giant Slits,' the group went on an extended hiatus. It reemerged earlier this year with the comeback album 'Trapped Animal,' a surprisingly worthwhile collection that finds the Slits experimenting with R&B and dancehall.
The latter style informs 'Lazy Slam,' a charming little number in which Up begs her man to make love to her -- ideally without waking her up. "We're really in a bad state," Up said as the introduced the tune, explaining that her voice wasn't strong enough to do much more than speak-sing the lyrics. "Should we strip?"
The Slits opted to keep their clothes on, though they closed with the somewhat raunchy 'Let's Do the Split,' a tune the crowd selected, having been asked to vote on what type of song it wanted to hear last: reggae or punk. This might have been a trick question. When it comes to the Slits, after all, the difference is fairly negligible.