Annette misschief at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 18 23:14:51 EST 2008

To those with any interest whatsoever:

I THINK (I've decided to enter any posts with 'i think' or 'it's my  
opinion' so I won't irritate anyone by sounding like a Know-It- 
All . . . my tone may have set people off  .  .  . what should be a  
fact-finding discussion between two people who shared [part of] the  
same scene but not, apparently,  the same view, becomes an 'argument'  
because she thinks she knows, and I think I know, so bump go the  
heads). Anyway, I THINK . . .

crap, forgot what it was I was thinking . . . oh yeah:

First, Mike and J. Neo offer really, REALLY good analyses of 'can or  
can't play', that omnipresent and infuriating response that still  
won't go away. Thank you Mike/Neo! Classic!

Now, some further impressions:


No matter how much the Slits may have 'practiced' before the Roxy  
gigs (the first shows I saw), they sounded as though they had never  
practiced in their lives . . . it was chaos and anarchy, more chaos  
and anarchy than ANY other band at the Roxy . . . and in 1977, chaos  
and anarchy were very good things indeed. One of the main tenets of  
punk: DON'T PRACTICE! JUST PLAY! And some bands stayed pretty close  
to this; oh, they practiced a little but basically many took the  
stage with little more than great music sensibilities, a precise  
understanding of what they were part of, and, playing with unbridled  
passion -- you got punk rock.

But, alas, the Slits actually did sound pretty awful. Seriously. Even  
some punks had to hold their hands over their ears. There was little  
perceptible beat among them, and not always Palmolive's 'fault';  
Ari's vocals ranged from charm (a bit of a stretch) to all out  
screeching that was . . . electrifying, but only sometimes in a good  
way. The sets were spilled & spattered . . . . If you think the bands  
on the Roxy album were rough . . . well, maybe I should describe no  

So, why were they so GREAT? And great they were. Like I said, it was  
unadulterated noise/chaos/anarchy which was pure punk, but,  
obviously, not just any band could pull this off . . .the marvelous  
Slits did though,  because running through these bizarre early sets  
something wonderful was; it was the inspiration; the courage; the  
musical brilliance that was to come. It was the jelly that jelled;  
and oh my did it ever: one word: CUT.

No one would have bet a pence on it at the time!

But back to the Roxy or thereafter. Without being too specific, it  
was decided that the band wasn't going to get any better with  
Palmolive drumming. This hurt my feelings because I knew her the  
best; was very fond of her and her sister, lovely people; and also it  
seemed to me to be 'selling out' for musical refinement instead of  
adherence to pure punk.  (So you can guess, my heart was pretty much  
breaking all the way thru 1977 as one group after another 'sold out'.  
It took awhile for me to see that maybe one of the major strengths of  
punk was that bands COULD practice; music COULD progress . . . and  
punk would not die.) The fact that some of the best music in the  
world emerged didn't hurt much, either.

Anyway, CUT was cut, and in and around this time the group became  
listenable, the songs recognizable, the experience enjoyable; and the  
girls remained our giant Slits. As for the guy -- sorry -- I never  
looked at him, really. Kind of denied it. Wished Palmolive could've  
played that good . . .

I'm gonna shut up now and see how many people tell me how wrong I am  
about all this.

Not really.

I loved the Slits. I loved little Ari (she was very young then, 15?  
16?), she was so kind to me and I think to everyone; she never shut  
anybody up or out but always welcomed us into her world of joy and  
rebellion. She was a MAJOR leader of punk rock at the time, full of  
ideas, a live-wire presence at the Roxy  and, to me, pretty much punk  

But the band was beyond Ari. The four girls in front of us --  
Palmolive thwacking away, Viv into her instrument with serious  
concentration; Tessa stoic and doing her best with the bass, Ari  
roping in the crowd . . . ALL were the face and body of the Slits.  
You couldn't keep your eyes on any one of them for long, you didn't  
want to miss a thing any of them did; they were a beautiful, messy,  
intimate, intimidating, innocent and massive FOURsome . . .

Punk in pink? Yep, they never aped the boys, they were all girl all  
of the time.

today's incarnation, I guess, may be insignificant in comparison --  
you tell me -- but THEN . . . well, can any of us imagine a musical  
world without the magical Slits?

gosh it's scary to hit that 'reply all' -- innit? Close my eyes,  
cross my fingers . . . hmmm, can't hit it that way . . . ok, open my  
eyes, shiver me timbers  . . . well, there are pirates about. . .  
heave ho and here goes

On Nov 17, 2008, at 2:10 PM, J Neo Marvin wrote:
> Well, you have to remember that the mid-70s had a very different  
> definition of "can't play". When Horses came out,
> one common complaint was that Patti Smith's band couldn't play. To  
> be considered a "player", you had to have
> technique like Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck. The Velvet Underground  
> "couldn't play". The Stooges "couldn't play". Some
> people even went so far as to say the Beatles "couldn't play". Punk  
> redefined what it meant to play an instrument in
> many ways, shifting the emphasis from slickness and/or masturbatory  
> soloing to a group playing well TOGETHER and
> delivering supposedly simple parts effectively and aggressively. By  
> any standard, the Ramones were an extremely
> tight band, but since the guitar played all barre chords and the  
> bass played all root notes, they were seen as
> incompetent, while some cliched, meandering blues-based jam would  
> be considered the height of musicianship.
> (Some bitter old hippies still see things that way to this day.  
> Punk "ruined" music, blah blah blah..)
> As far as bands that played the Roxy, well, I wasn't there, but  
> from the evidence of the live album, a lot of bands
> that would ultimately be viewed as highly accomplished like X-Ray  
> Spex or Wire certainly sound very rough, but they
> clearly knew what they were doing and what they were aiming for  
> right from the start. Any non-punk fan at the time
> would only hear incompetent noise. Their loss then and now.
> And yeah, isn't it great to be part of a group that includes actual  
> eyewitnesses!
> -J Neo Marvin
> http://www.live365.com/stations/jneomarvin
> http://www.jneomarvin.com
> > From: mike at appelstein.com
> > To: typicalgirls at lists.ibiblio.org
> > Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2008 13:06:23 -0600
> > Subject: Re: [TypicalGirls] THE SLITS REFORM FOR NEW SHOWS
> >
> > This is why I love Typical Girls - here we have an argument  
> regarding the
> > Slits' first shows by people THAT WERE THERE. Where else on the  
> web are we
> > (slightly) younger post-punk obsessives going to get that?
> >
> > <<for some reason people like to think these girls just picked up
> > instruments and jumped on stage. they practiced and wrote for  
> months before
> > performing.>>
> >
> > So is it time to retire the myth once and for all that the  
> original punks
> > "couldn't play?" From what I can hear, the guitar bands could  
> play fine.
> > Malcolm McLaren always promoted that myth about the Sex Pistols,  
> but it's
> > clear Cook, Matlock and especially Jones were perfectly accomplished
> > players. Perhaps, in the mid-1970s, musicians were still so  
> enamored of
> > extended guitar solos that listeners weren't used to a simpler  
> approach. I
> > mean, the Sheffield bands like Cab Volt were using synths they  
> "couldn't
> > play" a la Pere Ubu or Eno-era Roxy Music...but I tend to think  
> that's a
> > whole different scene and philosophy.
> >
> > Were there any bands that truly, obviously "couldn't play" at  
> their first
> > shows? The Flowers of Romance? Early Germs?
> >
> > - mike
> > mike at appelstein.com
> > http://www.appelstein.com/blog
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> > TypicalGirls at lists.ibiblio.org
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