The Slits

Cut

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Its amateurish musicianship, less-than-honed singing, and thick, dubwise rhythms might not be for everyone, but there's little denying the crucial nature of the Slits' first record. Along with more recognized post-punk records like Public Image Limited's Metal Box, the Pop Group's Y, and less-recognized fare like the Ruts DC and Mad Professor's Rhythm Collision Dub, Cut displayed a love affair with the style of reggae that honed in on deep throbs, pulses, and disorienting effects, providing little focus on anything other than that and periodic scrapes from guitarist Viv Albertine. But more importantly, Cut placed the Slits along with the Raincoats and Lydia Lunch as major figureheads of unbridled female expression in the post-punk era. Sure, Hole, Sleater-Kinney, and Bikini Kill would have still happened without this record (there were still the Pretenders and Patti Smith, just to mention a few of the less-subversive groundbreakers), but Cut placed a rather indelible notch of its own in the "influential" category, providing a spirited level rarely seen since. Heck, the Slits themselves couldn't match it again. You could call some of these songs a reaction to the Nuggets bands, or the '60s garage acts that would find as many ways as possible to say "women are evil." Songs like "Instant Hit" (about PiL guitarist Keith Levene), "So Tough" (about Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten), "Ping Pong Affair," and "Love Und Romance" point out the shortcomings of the opposite sex and romantic involvements with more precision and sass than the boys were ever able to. "Spend Spend Spend" and "Shoplifting" target consumerism with an equal sense of humor ("We pay f*ck all!"). Despite the less-than-polished nature and street-tough ruggedness, Cut is entirely fun and catchy; it's filled with memorable hooks, whether they're courtesy of the piano lick that carries "Typical Girls" or Ari Up's exuberant vocals. (One listen to Up will demonstrate that Björk might not be as original as you've been led to believe.) Island's 2000 reissue blows away the 1990 CD version in sound and presentation. A mammoth improvement is made with the sound, and extensive liner notes and photos are included. Movie fans should also check out High Fidelity, in which a copy of Cut makes more appearances than many of its co-stars.

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