The Slits

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The Slits
A reformed lineup of the Slits performs in 2007
A reformed lineup of the Slits performs in 2007
Background information
OriginLondon, England
GenresPunk rock, post-punk, experimental rock
Years active1976–1982, 2005–2010
LabelsIsland, Y, CBS, Narnack
Past membersAri Up
Palmolive
Suzy Gutsy
Kate Korus
Tessa Pollitt
Viv Albertine
Budgie
Bruce Smith
Hollie Cook
Michelle Hill
NO
Anna Schulte
Adele Wilson
Neneh Cherry
Little Anna

The Slits were a punk and post-punk band based in London, formed there in 1976 by members of the groups the Flowers of Romance and the Castrators. The group's early line-up consisted of Ari Up (Ariane Forster) and Palmolive (a.k.a. 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.[1] Their 1979 debut album, Cut, has been called one of the defining releases of the post-punk era.[2]

Career[edit]

1976–1982[edit]

The Slits formed in 1976 when Ari Up went to a Patti Smith gig. After having an argument with her mother, Ari was approached by Palmolive and Kate Corris with the offer to form a band. The next day they had their first rehearsal.

The group supported the Clash on their 1977 White Riot tour along with Buzzcocks, the Prefects and Subway Sect.[3] 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.[4] Joe Strummer said the group would be "great" with intense gigging.[5]

Palmolive left the band in 1978 and debuted with the Raincoats on 4 January 1979.[6] She was replaced by the drummer Budgie (Peter Clarke), formerly of the Spitfire Boys and later of Siouxsie and the Banshees.[1] With the change of drummer came a change of musical style. The Slits' originally raw, raucous and drum-dominated live sound, as captured on two Peel Sessions in 1977 and 1978, was cleaned up and polished to a more bass-orientated sound with the Budgie line up, and their new style drew heavily from reggae, dub and world music.

Ari Up playing with the Slits at the Beat the Blues Festival, Alexandra Palace, 15 June 1980.

Their Dennis Bovell-produced debut album Cut was released in September 1979 on Island Records, with Neneh Cherry joining as additional vocalist.[1] The album's sleeve art depicted the band naked, except for mud and loincloths.[1] It is often claimed that Palmolive left partly because she did not like the album artwork,[7] including by Palmolive herself,[8] but Viv Albertine has stated that Palmolive had been asked to leave the band several months previously,[9] and she 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 drummer Bruce Smith and releasing a joint single, "In the Beginning There Was Rhythm / Where There's a Will..." (Y Records). This was followed by a bizarre untitled compilation album of mostly homemade demos and live performances from before the release of Cut. The band toured widely and released their second studio album, Return of the Giant Slits, before breaking up in early 1982.[1][7] Ari Up went on to be part of the New Age Steppers.[1]

2005–2010[edit]

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.[3] 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. Cook's daughter Hollie played with the band, 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.[10]

The band toured the United States for the first time in twenty-five years during 2006's 'States of Mind' tour, and followed this with tours of Australia and Japan, as well as opening for Sonic Youth at New York's McCarren Park Pool.[11] Adele Wilson and No left the band, to be replaced by American guitarist Michelle Hill. A biography – Typical Girls? The Story of the Slits by Zoe Street Howe was published in the UK by Omnibus Press in July 2009,[12] and the band's third full-length album entitled Trapped Animal was released three months later.[13]

Founding member Ari Up died in Los Angeles in October 2010 at the age of 48.[14] The band's final work, the video for the song "Lazy Slam" from Trapped Animal, was released posthumously according to Ari Up's wishes.[15] A final song, the unreleased 1981 recording "Coulda Woulda Shoulda", was due to be released in early 2011.[16]

Personnel[edit]

Members[edit]

Lineups[edit]

1976 1976–1978 1978–1980 1980–1982
  • Ari Up – vocals
  • Kate Korus – guitar
  • Suzy Gutsy – bass guitar
  • Palmolive – drums
  • Ari Up – vocals
  • Viv Albertine – guitar
  • Tessa Pollitt – bass guitar
  • Budgie – drums
  • Ari Up – vocals
  • Viv Albertine – guitar
  • Tessa Pollitt – bass guitar
  • Bruce Smith – drums
1982–2005 2005–2010

Disbanded

  • Ari Up – vocals
  • Hollie Cook – backing vocals
  • NO – guitar, backing vocals
  • Adele Wilson – guitar
  • Michelle Hill – guitar
  • Tessa Pollitt – bass guitar
  • Anna Schulte – drums
  • Anna Ozawa – melodica, keyboard

Timeline[edit]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • "Typical Girls" / "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (Island (UK) / Antilles (US), September 1979, also issued as a 12-inch EP with additional alternate versions) UK No. 60[19]
  • "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)[1]
  • "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)[1] 7"/CD Maxi single (Only Lovers Left Alive/EXO)

Documentary[edit]

In 2018 a documentary film was released, To Be Heard: The Story of The Slits.[21]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Zoe Street Howe, Typical Girls? The Story of The Slits, Omnibus Press, 2009. (ISBN 1847727808)
  • Viv Albertine, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys, Faber & Faber, 2014
  • Bullman, J. (2009). Girls Unconditional: The story of The Slits, told exclusively by The Slits. Loud and Quiet.[22]

In popular culture[edit]

The band’s name appears in the lyrics of the Le Tigre song "Hot Topic."[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 894/895. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
  2. ^ Dougan, John. "The Slits: Cut" at AllMusic. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Biography by John Dougan". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 23 April 2009.
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ Coon 1977.
  6. ^ Ian Penman: The Raincoats Dresden Banks Vincent Units Acklam Hall. In: New Musical Express 27 January 1979, page 43.
  7. ^ a b Roberts, David (1998). Guinness Rockopedia (1st ed.). London: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 397. ISBN 0-85112-072-5.
  8. ^ "The Pilgrimage of Palmolive - Tom Tom Magazine". Tomtommag.com. 25 February 2014. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  9. ^ Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys; Viv Albertine; Faber & Faber 2014, p. 205
  10. ^ Mervis, Scott (20 March 2008). "Music Preview: The Slits are back with a Pistols daughter". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  11. ^ Slits Set for U.S. Summer Tour Archived 13 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine Pitchfork Media, 6 July 2007.
  12. ^ Zoe Street Howe (2009). Typical Girls: The Story of the Slits. Omnibus Press. pp. all. ISBN 978-1-84772-780-0.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Moynihan, Colin (22 October 2010). "Ari Up, a Founder of the Slits Punk Band, Dies at 48". The New York Times. p. A33. Archived from the original on 21 September 2011.
  15. ^ "Ari Up R.I.P. (1962–2010)d". narnackrecords.com. 21 October 2010. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
  16. ^ "Original Slits Lineup to Release Cassette of "Last Ever Song" | Exclaim!". exclaim.ca. Retrieved 21 February 2022.
  17. ^ "A Beginner's Guide to Neneh Cherry's Essential Songs". Electronicbeats.net. 12 November 2015.
  18. ^ "The Slits - In Conclusion". Punk77.co.uk.
  19. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 508. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  20. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "album overview – accessed April 2009". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  21. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (23 March 2018). "Here to Be Heard: The Story of the Slits review – rise of the punk pranksters". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 October 2022.
  22. ^ "Girls Unconditional: The story of the Slits, told exclusively by the Slits".
  23. ^ Oler, Tammy (31 October 2019). "57 Champions of Queer Feminism, All Name-Dropped in One Impossibly Catchy Song". Slate Magazine.

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Media related to The Slits at Wikimedia Commons