Who invented the typical girl?
Who's bringing out the new improved one?
And there's another marketing ploy
Typical girl gets the typical boy - "Typical Girls"

British all-girl punk band that formed around 1976. Then-fourteen-year-old Ari Up (Arianna Forster) ran into Palmolive (Paloma Romero) at a Patti Smith show. At the time, Palmolive was the drummer for Flowers of Romance with Sid Vicious but wanted to start a punk band that featured only girls. She asked Ari to be the lead singer, and with the addition of guitarist Kate Korris (formerly of The Castrators*) and bassist Suzy Gutsy, the original line up of The Slits was in place, though not for very long: Kate Korris would soon leave to form The Mo-dettes, and Suzy Gutsy would leave to join The Flicks. Teresa Pollitt (who had also been in The Castrators) was invited to play bass, and Viv Albertine (who had been in Flowers of Romance with Palmolive) was asked to play guitar, and this became the definitive Slits line-up, at least the one most people remember.

She is a born performer...She is blatantly sexy, although such is her impact that many straight men told me they thought she was ugly - a fact that pleases Ari immensely...She exudes the raunchy innocence of a futuristic Medusa-Lolita...In her role as a punk model she is unique. - Caroline Coon

Ari Up had all the makings of a punk rock dream come true: her mother Nora, a wealthy German heiress, was apparently quite involved in the music scene at the time: her apartment was the place to be for many musicians, since she would feed them when they were penniless and starving. Joe Strummer even gave Ari her first guitar lesson there. Nora was also dating John Lydon at the time, and would end up marrying him. Ari was undoubtedly inclined to venture out into the punk scene because of these factors. She was the group's most grandiose member, with her long, untamed hair (sometimes in dreads) and her penchant for dressing up in wildly original ensembles: one of her favorite outfits was comprised of reflective skintight pants underneath a pair of Silver Jubilee knickers, worn with a studded belt and ankle-high cowboy boots. Another favorite was a micro mini-skirt that she wore over underwear with a rosebud print on it. Palmolive, an entirely self-taught drummer, got her nickname from Paul Simonon, the bassist for The Clash (she was dating Joe Strummer at the inception of The Slits). He asked her what her name was, she replied, "Paloma" and because it was Spanish he apparently had trouble pronouncing it, and sarcastically remarked, "Palmolive?" She thought it was funny and kept it. French-born Viv Albertine was the 'blonde bombshell' of the group and, like Palmolive, had been kicked out of Flowers of Romance by Sid Vicious because of her "lack of talent." And Tessa Pollitt, although having previously been in a band, started playing bass only two weeks before she joined The Slits.

I need something new
Something trivial would do
I want to satisfy this empty feeling - "Spend, Spend, Spend"

The Slits played their first show in Harlesden on March 11th, 1977. Palmolive's relationship with Joe Strummer was probably the main reason they chose them to open for The Clash during their White Riot tour, along with Buzzcocks and Subway Sect; it certainly wasn't because of their musical ability, because none of them could play their instruments very well. They sang about things as varied as boys, conformity, substance abuse, materialism, and shoplifting, and their sound was dissonant, abrasive and chaotic:

The Slits' aggressive and confrontational sound was most definitely their own: the foundation was a stuttering, stumbling rhythm pounded out with grim determination by Palmolive and accentuated by Tessa's thudding, reverberating bass; choppy guitar chords on maximum fuzz (and always ever-so-slightly off-key) scratched through the racket at irregular intervals like jagged shards of cut glass; and undulating over the whole live, solid mass came Ari's signature wobbly, screeching wails and yelps.
The band also had a somewhat violent stage persona: they were known to have fought with bands such as Sore Throat and Throbbing Gristle while they were onstage performing. The Slits' antics were displayed in Derek Jarman's Jubilee, in which they played the 'street girls' that trashed a car, and Don Letts' Punk Rock Movie which consists of footage from the White Riot tour, which became legendary. But along with the imfamy they gained from that tour, the band also acquired a lot of experience playing, which they definitely needed. While all the other bands at the time were securing record contracts, the bands' unpredictible behavior and the fact that they didn't sound "tight enough" were off-putting to many record labels. Despite rumors that The Slits were about to become Malcolm McLaren's latest proteges, they were finally signed to Island Records in 1978, after Palmolive had left to join The Raincoats. She was replaced by Peter Clark, or Budgie, as he was more often referred to as, from Big in Japan. They released their first official album (they band had recorded Peel Sessions in '77) in 1979, Cut, which they made with reggae producer Dennis Bovell. Cut was more influenced by dub rather than punk, because the group was interested in taking their music in other directions. Cut is also well-known for featuring the band topless, wearing only loincloths and covered in mud on the record sleeve. Budgie left after Cut to join Siouxsie and the Banshees and Bruce Smith from The Pop Group was his replacement. Steve Beresford was also added to play keyboard. Retrospective, an authorized bootleg, was released next, which consisted of early live songs and old studio tapes.They released a few independent singles in 1980: "In The Beginning There Was Rhythm" and "Animal Space" along with a cover of John Holt's "Man Next Door". The Slits then signed to CBS Records in 1981 and released their last album, Return of the Giant Slits, which was more influenced by African rhythms instead of Jamaican ones. It was more polished than Cut and intended to be more accessible for the mainstream. However, CBS dropped the band later that year and at their last gig at Hammersmith Palais, they announced they were breaking up. Although they were together for a relatively short time and did not have a prolific output, they were truly ground-breaking and stand as an example of a band who refused to compromise their vision for anyone or anything.

Discography:

Albums:

Cut (Island Records, 1979)
Retrospective (Rough Trade, 1980)
Return of the Giant Slits (CBS, 1981)
The Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit Records, 1988)
In the Beginning (Jungle Records, 1997)
Typical Girls Won't Pay More Than 8.00, So Why Should You? (Basic Records, 1981)
Typical Girls Live In Cincinnati & San Francisco (Y Records)
The Slits Live 1978
The Slits Live In Toronto


Singles:

Typical Girls/I Heard It Through the Grapevine (Island Records, Antilles Records, 1979)
Typical Girls/I Heard It Through The Grapevine/Liebe and Romanze (Island Records, 1979)
Man Next Door (Rough Trade Records, 1979)
In The Beginning There Was Rhythm (split with The Pop Group, Rough Trade Records, 1980)
Animal Space/Animal Spacier (Human Records, 1980)
Earthbeat/Begin Again Rhythm (CBS Records, 1981)
Face Dub/American Radio Interview (Winter 1980)(CBS Records, 1981)

*On the punk77.co.uk page, it says she was not in The Castrators, but other sources say she was.

Sources:
Typical Girls Online. http://www3.sympatico.ca/h.gagnon/Slits/disco.htm
The Slits - A Punk Band Page. http://www.aurealm.com/slits.htm
The Slits. http://www.comnet.ca/~rina/slits.html
Jungle Records - A Brief History of The Slits. http://www.jungle-records.demon.co.uk/bands/slits.htm
3am Interview:EARTHBEAT: IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS RHYTHM http://www.3ammagazine.com/musicarchives/2003/nov/interview_tessa_pollitt.html
http://www.punk77.co.uk/ groups/slitshistory.htm. http://www.punk77.co.uk/ groups/slitshistory.htm

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