Final Lineup of the Slits:
Ari Up - Vocals (1976-2010) - Ari Up passed away on October 20, 2010
Tessa Pollitt (bass, vocals, 1977-present)
NO (guitar, vocals, 2006-present)
Hollie Cook (vocals, 2006-present)
Anna Schulte (drums, 2006-present)
Viv Albertine (guitar, vocals, 1977-81)
Palmolive - (drums, vocals, 1976-79)
Budgie - (drums, 1978-79), later a member of Siouxsie and the Banshees
Bruce Smith (drums, 1979-81)
Kate Korus (guitar, 1976-77)
Suzi Gutsy (bass, 1976-77)
An All-Girl Attack:
The Slits formed in 1976, when Ari Up (who was only 14 years old at the time) decided that the time was right for an all-girl punk band. With borrowed instruments and a very rudimentary knowledge of music, they went at it with passion, if not talent.
In any other time or place, the band was probably destined for obscurity, but this being London in the mid '70s, they managed to get the opening slot for the Clash's 1977 White Riot tour, a spot in punk history and the time to groom and improve their sound.
A Fast Evolution of Sound:
Aside from some early spots on the John Peel Show, the Slits recorded little of their early punk noise assault, but this was beautifully chaotic, comprised of basic rhythms and snotty vocals - the perfect feminine counterpart to '70s British punk.
By the time the band's first studio album, Cut, was released in 1979, the band, under the influence of reggae producer Dennis Bovell, had morphed into a dub-heavy, reggae influenced sound.
It was an innovative and bold move for the band, yet it showed that they had been perfecting their sound and their talent, and they were already well beyond simple three-chord punk rock.
The band continued to become increasingly experimental and avant-garde, although one wouldn't have known it by hearing 1981's Return of the Giant Slits, which was simply a re-release of old and poorly recorded music. This record, as well as the fact that the band's innovative sound was alienating their early following, helped stall the band's popularity and lead to their early demise.
The Latest Version (And The Sex Pistols Connection):
In 2006, founding members Ari Up and Tessa Pollit reformed the band to release the EP Revenge Of The Killer Slits. The album featured contributions from Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols.
Cook is only part of the band's Pistols connection, though; his daughter Hollie is also a member of the current line-up. Going deeper into the connections between the two bands, Ari Up's mother Nora is married to John Lydon, making him Up's stepfather.
In order to really grasp the range, power and direction of The Slits in their prime, you need to start with 1988's The Peel Sessions, which is actually a compilation of the band's early appearances on Peel's radio show. This captures the Slits at their young, snotty height.
Following this, 1979's Cut will allow you to hear how the band had matured in a short amount of time, and how they were already willing and able to expand the boundaries of punk, combining it with various ethnic and experimental sounds.
Return of the Giant Slits (CBS, 1981)
The Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit, 1988)
Revenge Of The Killer Slits (2006)