Pop: Great Covers 14. The Slits: "Cut"

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The Independent Culture
The Slits were rock's perfect rebel girls. With hair back-combed through the brambles of late-Seventies punk and reggae, they radiated a tomboy sexuality that pastiched Patti Smith and Suzi Quatro and paved the way for other girls who just wanna have fun. On Cut, they shed their motley threads in favour of mud dredged up from the rivers of Babylon. This was an audacious thing to do - few other female artists, if any, have chosen to pose topless on an album cover. And The Slits are not trying to titillate or seduce, or even shock. If Madonna did this, it would be to say something quite different.

Pennie Smith's photograph in its deep purple frame is alluring for its spirit of defiance as much as anything. The Slits were tougher than the rest but, unlike many of their punk pals, they had sex appeal. As the dim guitarist in Spinal Tap said, when challenged over the sexism of the group's latest album cover: "What's wrong with being sexy?"