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Music / The Slits

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From left to right: Palmolive, Viv Albertine, Tessa Pollitt, Ari Up

The Slits were a Post-Punk band formed in London in 1976, known for their innovative style combining the volume and rage of Punk Rock with more exotic influences that ranged from Dub, Reggae, World Music, and Funk. The group in their most active period revolved around the core lineup of Tessa, Viv and Ari, with collaborators including drummer Bruce Smith, Don Cherry and his daughter, Neneh Cherry. Their first album, Cut, is known as one of the most important records of the post-punk era.

Members (Founding members in bold):

  • Palmolive - Drums (1976–1978)
  • Ari Up - Vocals (1976–1982, 2005–2010; died 2010)
  • Kate Korus - Guitar (1976)
  • Suzy Gutsy - Bass guitar (1976)
  • Tessa Pollitt - bass guitar (1976–1982, 2005–2010)
  • Viv Albertine - guitar (1976–1982)
  • Budgie - drums (1978–1980)
  • Bruce Smith – drums (1980–1982)
  • Hollie Cook – backing vocals (2005–2010)
  • Michelle Hill – guitar (2005–2010)
  • NO – guitar, backing vocals (2005–2010)
  • Anna Schulte – drums (2005–2010)
  • Adele Wilson – guitar (2005–2010)


  • Cut (1979)
  • Return of the Giant Slits (1981)
  • Trapped Animal (2009)

The Slits provides examples of:

  • Addiction Song: "Instant Hit," about a man struggling with heroin addiction. The song was written about Viv Albertine's former bandmate and future Sex Pistols member Sid Vicious.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Viv Albertine(blonde), Palmolive(redhead), Ari Up(brunette), and Tessa Pollitt(jet black).
  • Cover Version: "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" on Cut, and "Man Next Door" originally by the Paragons with other well-known versions including the one by Massive Attack.
  • Defiant Strip: Invoked by the cover of Cut, which pictures the three members of the all-female group naked from the waist up and covered in mud, reflecting their no-nonsense punk attitude.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: "Newtown" has producer Dennis Bovell providing additional percussion by shaking a match-box, hitting an ashtray with a spoon, and occasionally striking a match. He's said this was meant to reflect the themes of the song: The song's lyrics compare such habits as watching television and reading the daily news to drugs, so the spoon was meant to symbolize cocaine and the matches and ashtray were meant to symbolize smoking.
  • Fan Disservice: Downplayed example with the cover of Cut, which shows all the girls topless—but covered in mud and wearing loincloths, so it isn't all that Male Gaze-y.
  • Five-Finger Discount: "Shoplifting" is a playful ode to the crime.
    Ten quid for the lot
    We pay fuck-all!
  • Gratuitous German: "Love Und Romance," which uses the German word for "and." The alternate version is called "Liebe And Romanze," inverting the German-to-English word ratio.
  • New Sound Album: Return of the Giant Slits was more experimental and influenced by world music compared to the dubby punk of Cut.
  • Retail Therapy: "Spend, Spend, Spend," about filling the void of sadness with buying trivial things.
  • Updated Re Release: Of Cut, which includes a whole bunch of demos, outtakes, instrumentals, and alternate versions.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Ari originally came from Germany, and her English pronunciation was part London and part Jamaican, due to the strong influence from reggae music. As a result her accent tends to shift about all over the place.