The 1979 Files, Volume 2

September 22, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Wolter

It's a random Tuesday morning, so that can only mean one thing: the return of my quasi-popular series (well, now that there are two, it's a series) profiling that of forgotten year of majesty, 1979.

Today I will be joined by special guest co-blogger, me at age 13, who will be providing a non-post-punk-fans perspective of this album. Part of the purpose of this will be for me to convince people of the importance of this relatively obscure work. Because at 13, I needed to listen to much better music than I did. So without further ado, we bring you:

The Slits - Cut

Wolter: Thank you for joining us, 13-year old version of me. I know you've had a tough year, what with the hurricane destroying your house, and the Cubs getting knocked out of the playoffs by goddamn Will Cla--but I digress...

RIGHT THERE!13-Year Old Wolter: Excuse me...are those tits on that cover?

W: Yes, but--

13yoW: Wow...right on the cover?

W: Yes, but really that's no big deal. They were making a comment on the commodification of sexuality--

13yoW: Can I look at that again?

W: No. Honestly, the Slits weren't even that attractive. And their lead singer is kinda insane. That's not my point. Cut is a seminal album of the post-punk era. At first dismissed as teenage groupies and hangers-on of the punk scene (with an admittedly amazingly perfect name), the Slits managed to put together one of the more iconic female-led albums of the scene.

Cut is louded with naive (in a good way) guitar play, heavy dub bass, solid drumming (from future Siouxsie & the Banshees drummer Budgie, the only man in the group), and weird-but-engaging vocals. Vocalist Ari Up was singing like Bjork before Bjork knew how to sing like Bjor--

TITS ON THE COVER!13yoW: Whose tits are hers? The middle one?

W: It's not important. What's important here is the sense of genuine female empowerment in these songs. Such classics as "So Tough" and "Instant Hit" provide a strong mockery of some of the more foolish and bravado-laden men in the burgeoning punk scene. They makes the commodified rebellion of Alannis Morrissette seem as contrived as the so-called "Girl Power" of the Spice Girls. And the back-to-back punch of "Spend Spend Spend" and "Shoplifting" present the problem of commodification and a not-quite-tongue-in-cheek solution.

13yoW: So, back to this cover...

W: I'm beginning to think I made a huge mistake. I should have asked 19-Year Old Punk Rock Wolter for his persp--

19-Year Old Punk Rock Wolter: Up yours, sellout. I'm not writing your shitty blog post for you, fatass.

W: Nevermind. Anyway, there are several other standout tracks, like "FM" (which stands for Frequent Mutilations) and "Love and Romance." And, of course, the standout track, "Typical Girls." A wild sleighride of a song, which speeds up, slows down, and rocks hard at every turn, "Typical Girls" is a slam on all of the cultural notions of what women are supposed to be, that asks the question:

Who invented the typical girl?
Who's bringing out the new improved model?
Then gives the chilling conclusion:

And there's another marketing ploy:
Typical girl gets the typical boy!

Which points out we are all forced to play the roles that society assigns us, and the typical boy is no better off, as he will also be caught in the same web with the typical gi--

13yoW: I'd settle for getting caught in a web with any girl at this point.

W: Oh for Christ's sake! Will you--Okay...I probably shouldn't have tried talking about sexuality with a 13-year old. This is bringing back some embarrassing memories.

Okay...moving on...the only flaw I have with this record is the flaw I have with all heavy, dubby music: though I don't think any of the songs are weak, it's hard to listen to in one solid sitting unless one is high enough to drink the beef juice out of a crock pot full of loose meat for sandwiches--

13yoW: What the hell are you talking about?

W: You'll understand when you're older.
At any rate, Cut is a first-rate postpunk album, that has inspired, either directly or indirectly, a large portion of women's independent music in the last quarter century. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is probably up to you to decide.

Oh, and if you decide to get this album, I recommend the version with bonus tracks, so you can hear the pretty cool heavy reggae version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."

OH SHIT! THEY'RE COVERED IN MUD? TITS!13yoW: Does it have the same cover?

W: ...Yes.

13yoW: Awesome.

W: Tune in next time, when I focus on the best slab of vinyl The Clash ever made. And it's NOT what you think.

13yoW: How old am I when I finally get this album?

W: Old enough to buy actual porn.

13yoW: Oh. Cool. I guess...

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