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Customer Review

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half Cut, 21 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Typical Girls? The Story of The Slits (Paperback)
As a long time fan of the Slits, I was delighted when this book was published, as for far too long the band's story has been shrouded in mystery. Now finally here's a chance to lay it all on the line, or almost all...

The first three quarters of this book is excellent. Author ZoŽ Street Howe had unfettered access to the main trio of Ari Up, Viv Albertine and Tessa, plus ex-members like guitarist Kate Korus, and drummer Palmolive, along with various managers, friends and colleagues, all of whom make fine contributions.
Howe explores in great detail the formation of the group, early gigs (notably the Clash's `White Riot' tour), that first legendary Peel session, the departure of Palmolive, and most importantly how the Slits worked to hone their music from it's original punk thrash into the stripped down, dub oriented sound that they are known for; refusing to sign to any label until the music was absolutely right. They finally signed to Island, and with producer Dennis Bovell started work on the classic album "Cut" (1979) Cut. Again, Howe goes into fascinating detail about the making of the album, with plenty of input from Bovell. There is also a full insight into that infamous cover shot - the girls blame the sumptuous meals that were served at the studios for the reason they look slightly chubby in the photo!
Following the album came successful tours of the UK and US, but it is at this point that the book begins to fail, as Howe races through the Slits last couple of years. The controversial but fascinating album, `Bootleg Retrospective" (1980) is dismissed in a few lines; I would have liked to have known a lot more about it and the origins of various tracks. There is also no mention of the fact that Y Records distributor Rough Trade hated the album and refused to give it a RT catalogue number. Also missing is the `Beat The Blues Festival'. Held in London in June 1980, it was headlined by the Slits, along with the Pop Group, Raincoats, Essential Logic, Au Pairs, John Cooper Clarke and Linton Kwesi Johnson. A post-punk line-up to die for!
The Slits second proper album "Return Of The Giant Slits" (1981) Return of the Giant Slitssadly does not get the same in-depth coverage as "Cut" which is another great shame as it does represent a genuine step forward for the band and their music.
By the beginning of 1982 it was all over for the Slits as they went their separate ways, but Howe doesn't bother to go into any real detail about their post-Slits lives and careers. Another missed opportunity.
I suspect there were marketing pressures to get this book finished and published in time to tie in with the release of the Slits 2009 reunion album.Trapped Animal It's a decision that has damaged what should have been the final word on the jungle sisters.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Nov 2009 03:42:23 GMT
Thanks for taking the time to write this, I'm sorry to hear the book fell short of your expectations. My aim was to celebrate The Slits and look at them with a fresh perspective - I was in agreement with the group's own wishes that Cut should be the heart of the book as it was a watershed for them and continues to define them, after all. I also made clear I would focus on their original career from start to split, with a precis of what is happening now. It was not that I 'didn't bother' to go into detail about their subsequent lives, this was also in agreement with group members.
Everything they chose to share is included, all of which was fascinating and often surprising.
I agree Return is an incredibly important, exciting album, and I think that is made clear, although the amount they shared about the making of it was limited in comparison with Cut, in some cases simply because they didn't remember quite as much about the process! It appears to have been much more fragmented and their lives were very different at this point, but this is discussed in the book.

Best wishes,
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Location: Hertfordshire, England

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