The Slits - Cut (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Slits

Cut (1979)


The Slits’ debut album Cut is a truly unique post punk record, and Joe Strummer would be in agreement with me on that. The Clash took the young group on tour twice, and while the band was raw at the start, they not only quickly got their shit together, but managed to form a completely unique sound that was like some sort of alien dubby punk music.

The cover - with some of the band as nearly-naked, mud-covered warriors - hints at the adventure to come. Opener “Instant Hit” is a junkie’s warning in the form of a schoolyard na-na-na boo-boo taunt. Kick drum thuds four-on-the-floor with Viv Albertine’s guitar becoming a percussion instrument itself, mostly playing rhythms on the muted strings with the occasional chromatic interruption. Tessa Politts’ bass groove and Budgie’s rock-solid drumming cements the song, (as well as throughout the album). But it’s Ari Up who steals the show throughout Cut, with her huge range of vocals sounds- yelps, coos, ticks, warbles - ornamenting her singing like a restless kid wiggling uncontrollably in their seat.

“So Tough,” about Sid Vicious, seems rather prescient: They say you’re acting like a star / They say not everything’s wunderbar / You want money, girls urgently / Too much too soon, wait and see” “Shoplifting” gives some of that punk speed and brevity, featuring some truly blood-curdling screams by Up. And lines like ”We pay fuck all” are so wonderfully British, aren’t they? “Newtown” takes on hard drugs yet again, and in quite literal fashion, producer Dennis Bovell recorded shaking a matchbox and dropping spoons, items you might use in the process of getting your fix. “Love Und Romance” is a zippy sarcastic love song, with snare drum fills powering along the snarky chorus of ”I’m so happy! / You’re so nice! / Kiss kiss kiss / Fun fun life!”

They bury the lede by sticking “Typical Girls” at track 9. It’s a biting feminist anthem, taking aim at gender roles and the world’s view of what a “lady” should be: ”Typical girls stand by their man / Typical girls are really swell / Typical girls learn to act shocked / Typical girls don’t rebel.” It’s also the catchiest song on the album, shifting between a piano-pounder chorus and swinging ska verses. At the end, when Up howls ”Typical girl gets the typical boy!” you can’t help but howl along.

Cut would be The Slits’ only full length released during their initial run, but it is plenty to cement them in the halls of punk royalty. The importance of the record for female rockers to come is a part of it sure, but mainly it’s just a kick ass and one-of-a-kind record.