The Popstream: LiLiPUT, "Die Matrosen"


I admit that I'm not the biggest punk evangelist. Sure, I like the Clash and Bad Brains and the Ramones as much as the next music geek, but I also like the big, bombastic arena-rock spectacle they were meant to replace. (This is probably why I geek out about the Hold Steady so much.) But one thing I really like about the '70s incarnation of the punk movement is the fact that it drastically increased and improved the place for women in rock: when the Runaways released their first album in 1976, the notion of an all-female rock band was unfairly considered a gimmicky, novelty-act concept, but by 1980 the independent success of groups like the Slits, the Raincoats and the Mo-dettes had widely legitimized it. And then there's the Swiss group Kleenex, who named themselves after the brand name Kimberly-Clark used to sell tampons in their country before litigation threats forced them to change their name to LiLiPUT. Often (reductively) called the "Swiss Slits" by the music press and frequently jostled around by personnel changes, LiLiPUT still managed to make a name for themselves in the late '70s and early '80s with a bilingual post-punk repertoire that proved to be one of the ideal prototypes for the late '80s riot grrl movement.

This isn't the official video for LiLiPUT's 1980 single "Die Matrosen" -- that can be found here, at But this is a bit better: it's cobbled together by a YouTube user who thought sped-up footage of the 1981 BBC made-for-TV drama Iris in the Traffic, Ruby in the Rain would make for a good visual accompaniment. And while I'm pretty sure the original movie didn't intend for a gray and rainy afternoon spent drinking in the passenger seat of a shitbox hatchback to be anyone's idea of time well-spent, the juxtaposition of the footage and the song -- a punchy two-minute number with a weighty bassline, an X-Ray Spex-caliber sax and an abrasive yet catchy lead vocal from Chrigle Freund -- makes it look entertaining.

Download Liliput/Kleenex on