The Slits

Live at the Gibus Club

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Historically, this tape of a January 26, 1978 show in Paris has considerable value. It's the original lineup of the Slits -- Ari Up on vocals, Viv Albertine on guitar, Tessa Pollitt on bass, and Palmolive (who would leave before the Slits' first album, and later join the Raincoats) -- well in advance of the release of the group's first LP in 1979. Musically, however, Live at the Gibus Club is not as exciting as either of the Slits' later releases, or as legend would have the band sounding in their early days. The sound quality's actually fairly decent for an early live punk recording, and the four thrash around with as much venomous energy as almost anyone from the first wave of British punk acts. But the music's isn't nearly as inventive as it would be when they went into a heavily reggae-influenced approach by the time they started recording. Instead, it's tumbling, lumpy tempoed, similar-sounding rants with proto-hardcore anthemic choruses, with Up's vocals so howled that the words are difficult to make out (admittedly a trait shared by many an early punk recording). There are early versions of a few songs that would make it onto their debut album ("Instant Hit," "So Tough," "New Town," "Shoplifting," "Love and Romance"), along with a more unexpected cover of the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale." You also have the pleasure of hearing Up interrupt "Enemy Numero Uno" to deliver the following scolding: "F*ck off, you frustrated bouncer, you! Sh*t-ass! What are you doing up here anyway, you asshole?...Go to the bog and have a wank!" Early British punk insider (and, briefly, Slits manager) Don Letts contributes entertaining liner notes about the group's early days.

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