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        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, especially when they began working with veteran reggae producer Dennis Bovell, setting the stage for a future generation of riot grrrls.

       The Slits formed in 1976 when 14-year-old Ari Upp (sometimes Arri Up) 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. Upp 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, savefor a couple of sessions of John Peel's BBC radio show. These recordings place theSlits firmly in the punk rock aesthetic of blaring guitars and braying vocals. But it's not generic-sounding rant: Ari's voice bounces along, alternately hiccuping and bellowing to the stiff rhythms; the songs are meditations on alienation, but there is a satiric,tongue-in-cheek quality to the songs 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Cut was released, the raging guitars were replaced by subtle reggae riddims, the band was now a trio (Palmolive had been replaced by new drummer Budgie, soon to join Siouxsie & the Banshees), and there was a stylistic suppleness that the Slits had heretofore never displayed. Ari's voice still warbled uncertain of the key, but for a band that had been playing their instruments for a little more than two years, this is a remarkably confident record. It was two years before a second record 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. I'm sure this 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,  Arri Up was singing in Adrian Sherwood's dub/funk aggregation the New Age Steppers, and the Slits had become both legendary and somewhat notorious. 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.

Source: All-Music Guide