The Slits in New York City, 2007
|Genres||Post-punk, dub reggae, punk rock|
|Years active||1976–1982, 2005–2010|
|Labels||Island, Y, CBS, Narnack|
|Past members||Ari Up
The Slits were a British punk and post-punk band. The quartet was formed in 1976 by members of the bands The Flowers of Romance and The Castrators. The members were Ari Up (Ariane Forster) and Palmolive (Paloma Romero, who played briefly with Spizzenergi and later left to join The Raincoats), with Viv Albertine and Tessa Pollitt replacing founding members Kate Korus and Suzy Gutsy. Palmolive was replaced by the drummer Budgie (Peter Clarke), formerly of The Spitfire Boys and later of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Although not all line-ups were exclusively female, the three main female members appeared on most record covers and publicity photos, and the group was generally presented as a female band.
The group supported fellow punk band The Clash on their 1977 White Riot tour along with the Buzzcocks, the Prefects and the Subway Sect. Club performances of The Slits during this period are included in The Punk Rock Movie (1978). In November 1978, The Slits toured with the Clash again on the "Sort it Out Tour" and were joined by The Innocents who opened the shows.
Number One for me at the moment are the Subway Sect. They've got some good ideas. The Slits are good, too. Palmolive on drums! She's the female Jerry Nolan. But like everyone, they need to do thirty gigs in thirty days and they would be a different group. Then they'd be great. The same with us.
Captured on a Peel Session, the Slits' originally raw and raucous live sound was cleaned up and polished by the time of their debut album. Their Dennis Bovell-produced debut album Cut was released in September 1979 on Island Records, with Neneh Cherry joining as additional vocalist. The album's sleeve art depicted the band naked, except for mud and loincloths. Palmolive left the band around this time: it is often claimed that this was partly because she did not like this artwork, including by Palmolive herself, but according to Viv Albertine Palmolive had been asked to leave the band before that, and anyway does not appear on the record.
The Slits' sound and attitude became increasingly experimental and avant-garde during the early 1980s, when they formed an alliance with Bristol post-punk band The Pop Group, sharing a drummer (Bruce Smith) and releasing a joint single, "In The Beginning There was Rhythm" / "Where There's A Will" (Y Records), followed by a bizarre, uncommercial, untitled album of mostly homemade demo recordings, and a few more singles. The band toured widely and released another album, Return of the Giant Slits before breaking up in early 1982. Ari Up went on to be part of the New Age Steppers.
Ari Up and Tessa Pollitt reformed the band with new members in 2005, as Viv Albertine was unwilling to rejoin, and in 2006 released the EP Revenge of the Killer Slits. The EP featured former Sex Pistols member Paul Cook and Marco Pirroni (formerly of Adam and the Ants, and Siouxsie and the Banshees) as both musicians and co-producers. In fact, Cook's daughter Hollie is a member of the current line-up, singing and playing keyboards. Other members of the reformed band were No (of The Home Office) on guitar, German drummer Anna Schulte, and Adele Wilson on guitar.
The band toured the United States for the first time in twenty-five years during 2006's 'States of Mind' tour. In 2007, they toured Australia as well as returning to the US, where they opened for Sonic Youth at New York's McCarren Park Pool. In their first visit to Japan, the band undertook a short tour in October 2007.
In 2008, the band again toured America. Adele Wilson left the band and No was replaced by the American guitarist Michelle Hill. In November 2008, the band played Ladyfest in Manchester, and visited London Astoria the following month. In January 2009 The Slits' MySpace page listed former guitarist Viv Albertine as one of the group's current members; however Albertine's own MySpace blog states that she only rejoined to play two shows.
In January 2009, the Los Angeles-based Narnack Records announced they had signed the band to a recording contract. A biography – Typical Girls? The Story of the Slits by Zoe Street Howe was published in the UK by Omnibus Press in July 2009.
In October 2010 Viv Albertine announced via Twitter that she and Tessa Pollitt intend to release the "last ever Slits song", titled "Shoulda Coulda Woulda" from 1981 on cassette tape with hand-drawn covers.
- Cut (Island (UK) / Antilles (USA), September 1979) – UK No. 30
- The Slits/Bootleg Retrospective/Untitled (Y Records, May 1980)
- Return of the Giant Slits (CBS, October 1981)
- Trapped Animal (Narnack, 2009)
Later albums and compilations
- Double Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit, November 1988)
- In the Beginning (Jungle, 1997)
- Live at the Gibus Club (Castle Music / Sanctuary, February 2005 – recorded January 1978)
Singles and EPs
- "Typical Girls" / "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (Island (UK) / Antilles (USA), September 1979, also issued as a 12-inch EP with additional alternate versions) UK No. 60
- "In the Beginning There Was Rhythm" (Y, March 1980, split single with The Pop Group)
- "Man Next Door" / "Man Next Door (version)" (Y, June 1980)
- "Animal Space" / "Animal Spacier" (Human (UK), 1981, also issued as a 12-inch EP on Human (USA) with different tracks)
- "Earthbeat" / "Earthdub" / "Begin Again, Rhythm" (CBS, August 1981 (UK), December 1981 (US), 7 inch single with the first 2 tracks, and 12 inch EP with 3 tracks)
- "American Radio Interview (Winter 1980)" / "Face Dub" (CBS, October 1981, bonus record included with Return of the Giant Slits album, side one plays at 33 rpm)
- The Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit, February 1987)
- Revenge of the Killer Slits (2006)
- Zoe Street Howe, Typical Girls? The Story of The Slits, Omnibus Press, 2009. (ISBN 1847727808)
- Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 894/895. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
- "Biography by John Dougan". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 23 April 2009.
- Tour Info MASTER/78-10-00.[dead link]
- Coon 1977.
- Roberts, David (1998). Guinness Rockopedia (1st ed.). London: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 397. ISBN 0-85112-072-5.
- [Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys; Viv Albertine; Faber & Faber 2014, p. 205
- Mervis, Scott (20 March 2008). "Music Preview: The Slits are back with a Pistols daughter". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Slits Set for U.S. Summer Tour Pitchfork Media, 6 July 2007.
- Zoe Street Howe. Typical Girls: The Story of the Slits. Omnibus Press. pp. all. ISBN 978-1-84772-780-0.
- Ross, Dalton (29 June 2009). "The Slits: lady-punk legends to return with first full-length since 1981 Entertainment Weekly 29 June 2009". Music-mix.ew.com. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
- Martins, Chris (20 October 2010). "R.I.P. Ari Up of the Slits, Dead at 48". LA Weekly. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
- "Rotten Talk". John Lydon.Com. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
- "Ari Up R.I.P. (1962–2010)d". narnackrecords.com. 21 October 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
- "Twitter / Viv Albertine: Me and Tessa are going to...". twitter.com. 24 October 2010. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 508. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Unterberger, Richie. "album overview – accessed April 2009". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
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