[TypicalGirls] THE SLITS REFORM FOR NEW SHOWS

Annette misschief at earthlink.net
Thu Nov 20 21:17:35 EST 2008


Robin . . .

thanks so much for mending fences . . . i was kinda 'up in arms' -- I  
think I know it best, and  it's a wake up call to find that others  
know too or kmow more, or know different --  and what's wrong with  
that? But my interest is more in the subjective;  'Historical' and  
revisionist compilations, books published by people just trying to  
make a name for themselves or a buck (which I'm sure they won't), by  
people who weren't there, offend me . . . or even by people who were  
there, but weren't punk per se . . . the more intellectual ones might  
make interesting reading  . . . but they still don't hit the nail on  
the head -- OK, punk was a many-headed hydra and impossible to pin  
down . . . but when ya miss it, ya miss it, and its irritating as  
hell . . .hearsay = heresy

Anyway, in the subjective I find the object, and in the objective,  
merely the subject . . . has this been said before? cuz i thought it  
was pretty damn profound of me when i figured it out in 1977

Well, i don't hold grudges  and I melt when people are nice, so  
thanks again Robin.

Shirley there are several scene-sters who could resolve our  
disagreement, and i wish they'd brave the fray and set us straight,  
come on my friends . . .I figure the 'argument' has basically boiled  
down to . . . was Viv in the band for the last Roxy gig (i say she  
was), or any other Roxy gig (don't know);  and was she definitely in  
the band Summer '77? You say yea, I say nay . . .

About Robin's other points, must admit that the way the girls sounded  
at the Roxy, it;s possible they couldn't hear each other . . . but  
what about the gigs after that, on different stages?  still pretty  
rough . . . they got better of course , . . 'new town' became quite  
distinguishable, ... but honestly I didn't care how good or bad they  
were;  i heard their music  and got the message and it was always  
great . . .

Can't agree with you that hearing on stage is acquired skill;  
sometimes you can hear and sometimes you can't, no rhyme or reason to  
it, monitors or no; I think even accomplished bands would agree, else  
why find those ear-mikey things necessary; and, unless you're the  
Police, i think the drums always squish off like that even when you  
learn to put a rug under them (you can see the level i'm on here,  
just another poor player upon the stage), but if the music has ahold  
of you, you manage to play 'em anyway . . .

So, did we know each other? Besides the Roxy and every other punk  
show in town, I basically followed the Clash '77 and '78, first on my  
own then in 78 with my boyfriend Robin B., or C ., but not D. . . .  
little riddle there . . . also my 'sisters' the R-C, and during this  
time I probably  missed some things, like the nuancing of the  
Slits  . . .

I do hope to find out more about you  . . . maybe  pursue privately,  
not to 'hijack' this forum . . . -- but thanks to whoever's  
listening . . . it's nice to be 'heard'!

amw


On Nov 19, 2008, at 12:48 AM, robin dudley wrote:
> yes, mike and j neo have a great grasp of the actual situation.  
> that is basically what i was trying to describe. "can't play" meant  
> exactly what you described, not that people actually couldn't play  
> - though some WERE pretty rough. however it got to be a bit of  
> oneupmanship about who had practiced least before jumping onstage.  
> as a lot of people have pointed out who were also there at the  
> time, the real energy surge was amazing and VERY short-lived! after  
> that the cliches set in big time. even years later the "this band  
> is so awful they're great" was repeated ad nauseam.
>
> what the slits REALLY "couldn't" at the beginning was figure out  
> being onstage!! paloma didn't know to secure her drums, and half  
> her fury was because they kept moving away from her! no one could  
> hear anything or had any idea how to deal with the stage  
> environment or equipment. practice they did, with a reeltoreel tape  
> recorder for an amp and a bunch of borrowed gear. hearing onstage  
> is an acquired skill! what a revelation!!
>
> i agree about booting paloma IN A WAY. unfortunately when she was  
> doing the booting she was ruthless, and i think a little of that  
> came back and bit her in the arse. and i was shocked at how much  
> BOVELL ran thru and thru cut - but he is a performing producer and  
> fairly svengalish in his way. to good effect, mind you!
>
> but people grow and they sometimes grow in different directions. i  
> think paloma was growing out of the whole angry teen scene at the  
> same time the others were wanting to expand their musical horizons.  
> she began to feel they were inspiring negativity instead of  
> creativity...in the beginning it was enough to say "i'll never  
> figure out how to play well and i don't care," but if you're going  
> to stay  in the business of making music you are probably going to  
> get better at it and out the window goes the anarchy.
>
> anyway annette sorry if  i sounded bolshy just putting out my own  
> experience of the experience. i feel like i must know you but i  
> can't place you! as for dates unless they carry markers i am  
> terrible with them.
>
> From: misschief at earthlink.net.
> Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2008 22:14:51 -0600
> To: typicalgirls at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: Re: [TypicalGirls] THE SLITS REFORM FOR NEW SHOWS
>
> 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:
>
> TO ME,
>
> 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 more.
>
> 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 personified.
>
> 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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> > http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/typicalgirls
>
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