December 19, 2005

The Return Of The Giant Slits

Somehow I didn't even know they existed until "Cut" came out, and for a year or so they were one of my fave bands, then they disappeared slowly from my consciousness. And then last month someone asked me whether I thought the Slits were "punk". I did a doubletake -- my memory was of a sort of collision of Bjork-before-the-fact meets Dennis Bovell, all bass-heavy reggae-tinged pop with sharp drumming, lots of space, a ska inflexion, and anarchic vocals -- a few years after punk started disintegrating. Punk? But what would I know... so I downloaded "Cut" from iTunes and got a vivid reminder of what I used to like about them... and what I really disliked about them. All of the above, and more: the vocal and guitar phrasings on their great cover of "Heard It Through The Grapevine", the Bovellesque bass mix, the little piano riffs on "Typical Girls", the annoying lyrics, the relentlessly invigorating slapdash rythmic drive, the feeling of musicians discovering the space reggae gives you in a song. And that singing... as someone said elsewhere, Bjork sometimes seems a lot less surprising if you heard the Slits (Ari Up is still around, by the way). Great stuff... for a while, I suspect.

And yes, apparently they really were punks before they did "Cut" -- as always, I was so far behind the avant garde that by the time I'd heard of them they'd moved beyond punk -- check out Punk77's The Slits page for the gory details.


At 12/19/2005 12:52 pm, Blogger Phil said...

cut was a seminal album for my listening experiences. i'm sure there was some post-adolescent fantasy's about the cover but the music was the thing. it was so obviously punk whilst not sounding like any other punk record.

At 12/19/2005 7:04 pm, Blogger Jimmy Little said...

The Slits were Punk in spirit and genesis, for sure, but I always remembered Cut as being post-punk, as going well beyond the punk of the day, hence the confusion in my ageing mind...


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