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The Slits

Along with the Raincoats and Liliput, the Slits are one of the most significant female punk rock bands of the late '70s. Not only did they bravely (or foolishly, you be the judge) leap into the fray with little, if any, musical ability (on their debut tour with the Clash, Mick Jones used to tune their guitars for them), but through sheer emotion and desire created some great music. This was especially true when they worked with veteran reggae producer Dennis Bovell, setting the stage for a future generation of riot grrrls. Though much derided in their short existence, what the Slits achieved and what they meant to succeeding generations of young female rockers cannot be underestimated. The Slits formed in 1976 when 14-year-old Ari Up (sometimes Air Upp) ran into her friend Palmolive at a Patti Smith gig in London. The latter suggested the former consider becoming the lead singer for a new all-girl punk band. Up agreed on the spot, and the Slits, with borrowed equipment and knowledge of two, maybe three chords, were a reality. They made some crude recordings (so crude that they make early Mekons recordings sound like 64-track by comparison) that were never widely circulated, and it wasn't until they nabbed the opening spot on the Clash's White Riot tour of England in 1977 that the Slits became a part of the punk pantheon. Despite this sudden notoriety, little was recorded by the Slits in the early days, save for a couple of sessions of John Peel's BBC radio show. These recordings place the Slits firmly in the punk rock aesthetic of blaring guitars and braying vocals. But it's not generic-sounding rant: Up's voice bounces along, alternately hiccuping and bellowing to the stiff rhythms; the songs are meditations on alienation, but have a satiric, tongue-in-cheek quality instead of strident preachiness. It wasn't until 1979 that the Slits made their first proper record under the watchful, supportive eyes and ears of reggae vet Dennis Bovell. By the time Cut was released, the raging guitars were replaced by subtle reggae riddims, the band was now a trio (Palmolive had been replaced by new drummer Budgie, soon to join Siouxsie and the Banshees), and there was a stylistic suppleness that the Slits had heretofore never displayed. Up's voice still warbled uncertain of the key, but for a band that had been playing its instruments for a little more than two years, this is a remarkably confident record. It was two years before a second album was released (Return of the Giant Slits), which was denser, darker, and full of surprises. But the Slits, due primarily to their interest in incorporating other forms of ethnic music into their mix, were leaping beyond what was commonly accepted as punk rock and, as a result, were no longer seen as a punk band. This probably didn't distress them in the least, as they were more interested in expanding the barriers of punk rock rather than simply adhering to "rules" that claimed all punk bands must bash out simplistic guitar rant. By the close of 1981, Up was singing in Adrian Sherwood's dub/funk aggregation the New Age Steppers, and the Slits had become both legendary and somewhat notorious. After releasing a solo album -- Dread More Dan Dead -- in 2005, Up revived the Slits with Tessa Pollitt and new members and began gigging. The group released a three-song EP, Revenge of the Killer Slits, in 2006. The first new full-length Slits album in 28 years, Trapped Animal, appeared in 2009. ~ John Dougan
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Stations Featuring
The Slits

    Punk U

    Punk U
    1 song

Albums by
The Slits

Top Songs by
The Slits

  1.   Song
  2.   So Tough
  3.   I Heard It Through the Grapevine
  4.   Typical Girls
  5.   Love and Romance
  6.   FM
  7.   Shoplifting
  8.   Trapped Animals
  9.   Face Place
  10.   Une Homme et un Slit
  11.   Adventures Close to Home
  12.   Dub Beat
  13.   Number One Enemy
  14.   In the Beginning
  15.   Liebe and Romanze
  16.   Improperly Dressed
  17.   WORT FM USA Interview
  18.   Issues
  19.   Had A Day
  20.   Love und Romance
  21.   Enemy Numero Uno
  22.   Earthbeat
  23.   Earthbeat Japan
  24.   Earthbeat Extra
  25.   Earthbeat 12"
  26.   Begin Again Rhythm
  27.   Reggae Gypsy
  28.   Pay Rent
  29.   Lazy Slam
  30.   Can't Relate
  31.   Ask Ma
  32.   In the Beginning, There Was Rhythm
  33.   Ping Pong Affair
  34.   Spend, Spend, Spend
  35.   Fade Away
  36.   Man Next Door
  37.   Vindictive
  38.   Newtown
  39.   Instant Hit
  40.   Vaseline
  41.   Life on Earth
  42.   Or What It Is?
  43.   Be It
  44.   Animal Space/Spacier
  45.   Deutsche Earthbeat
  46.   Partner From Hell
  47.   Face Dub
  48.   Babylon
  49.   A Boring Life
  50.   Peer Pressure
  51.   Grapevine
  52.   Split (Encore)
  53.   Walk About
  54.   Femme Fatale
  55.   Reject
  56.   Cry Baby
  57.   Difficult Fun
  58.   Slime
  59.   American Radio Interview
  60.   Winter 1980
  61.   Walabout
  62.   Animal Space
  63.   Spacier
  64.   Boring Life
  65.   Or What Is It?
  66.   Once upon a Time in a Living Room
  67.   Mosquitoes
  68.   Let's Do the Split
  69.   Bongos on the Lawn
  70.   No More Rock & Roll for You
  71.   Earthbeat/Wedding Song
  72.   Defficult Fun
  73.   Slits Tradition
  74.   Kill Them with Love
  75.   [Untitled]
  76.   Wedding Song
  77.   Vindictive (2006)
  78.   Number One Enemy (1)
  79.   Number One Enemy (2)
  80.   New Town (2)
  81.   In The Beginning (2)

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