The Slits, In The Beginning

Mark Paytress

By Mark Paytress

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A tale of two Slits.

For a few months in 1978, the Slits had the future of rock within their grasp. Harnessing their roughly hewn skills to a musical vision signposted by Zappa and Beefheart, their spring session for John Peel's radio show seemed destined to land them that elusive record deal. It didn't. The band — four fabulous, feisty women — looked and sounded completely untamable, and by the time Island picked them up a year later, they'd given their old material a dub-wise makeover. This collection falls either side of the glory months. The first half, taped at Dingwalls in September 1977, finds them magnificently mired in ramshackle punk mode. Though virtually fully formed, “New Town” still falls apart. The final songs post-date the classic Cut album, by which time the dubby arrangements had been significantly funked up — in part thanks to the band's association with the Pop Group. The version of John Holt's “Man Next Door” still knocks the Clash's “Police And Thieves” into a dark corner, though.