Song of the day – 210: The Slits (reprise)
“What happened was Palmolive corrupted me,” she laughs. “Palmolive was our first drummer, a real kick-ass Spanish girl, also in The Raincoats, and I was much younger, a little girl, 13, 14, and she got me into it and I thought, ‘Thank you so much, thank you’. I always thought it was OK to shoplift from big stores, not from friends – I never stole from friends, but from a big system. And of course we went second-hand shopping. Punk clothes were hard to get. The Slits really started our own style. And the whole point of it was not to be uniforms, but just to pick up pieces here and there, either make them yourself, or nick them. So we went into stores, and we put clothes underneath clothes, and walked out with them. Of course, you can’t do that nowadays, that was back then. So we did ‘Shoplifting’, I don’t remember how it goes, what’s the words again?” (Careless Talk Costs Lives #6)
Although I love the above three performances, my Song of the Day today is ‘Number One Enemy’. This version is different to my favourite: the one from their great untitled Rough Trade/Y Records ‘official bootleg’, that also featured a truly demonic and inspired and raw-as-shit joint collaboration between The Slits and Subway Sect in ’77 or thereabouts, on ‘We Oppose All Rock And Roll’.
The Legend! And His Swinging Soul Sisters first covered ‘Number One Enemy’ at Alan McGee’s Living Room in 1982, and later performed it in front of a crowd of two people (including a Raincoat) at North London Polytechnic. It’s been covered in collaboration with Galaxie 500, Nirvana and various US musicians. I still perform it, even now. Obviously none of my versions held a candle to the original…
Actually. Do you mind if we make it a joint Song of the Day today? I love this single so much: the one made just around the time that New Age Steppers came on the scene.
“Adrian Sherwood [the man behind On-U Sound], who I met when The Slits were touring, was primarily just selling records out of his van in England, promoting reggae bands. And then we moved into a squat together, and he picked up a cheap little echo machine, and – he’s a fucking genius – he taught himself how to mix. And then I came up with the name New Age Steppers, but before new age shit was even created, fuck that.” (Careless Talk Costs Lives #6)
Here’s a link to the untitled album. Totally worthy hearing. Totally.