The Slits: Here To Be Heard

by Pete Crigler

theslits_heretobeheardmovie_268So by now it seems every band, good or bad, has a documentary about them – everyone from Kings Of Leon and One Direction to Foo Fighters and Circle Jerks. Some are great, some are bland, and others are just eh. This film about U.K. female punk/dub pioneers The Slits unfortunately falls into the bland category. There’s nothing wrong with the band at all; it’s just the film feels a little flat and could’ve used a little bit more love, like the recent L7 documentary.

All female led, not selling sex, full of energy and reggae and dub influences, The Slits truly was  a league of their own. Rounding up all members both past and present, the film presents a true document of an era that is right up there with The Filth And The Fury and Westway To The World.

Compiling interviews and some really incredible early live and rehearsal footage, the documentary is your standard run-of-the-mill rock doc. Of course, the decline and breakup of the band is fascinating as it always is in these documentaries, but you also see a nice dichotomy. You start with a punk band full of rebellion and you wind up towards the end with a tribal, world-oriented almost dub band that was devoid of a lot of its early revolutionary rhetoric.

The greatest thing about this film is finding out where everyone is now. Drummer Palmolive now teaches Spanish in an elementary school in Cape Cod, of all places. What an amazing journey that I never even knew about. The circumstances surrounding frontwoman Ari Up’s passing is sad and grounds the film, but it brings things full circle. The memories surrounding this band will never fade, but unfortunately, this film doesn’t do enough to show off their overall power; in the end, it doesn’t quite do the band justice.

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