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Baker's Dozen

No Boundaries: Dennis Bovell's Baker's Dozen
Neil Kulkarni , October 20th, 2021 09:48

From his time working on classics like The Pop Group's Y, The Slits' Cut and Janet Kay's Silly Games, to the inspiration of Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, Dennis Bovell takes Neil Kulkarni through his thirteen favourite records


The Slits – Cut

How important was it that Cut was recorded not in an itinerant nature in a hired studio but in a residential studio setup?

So important. Just not having people turning up all day, cabs arriving… we were living there. It was like a family. The Slits had to go to bed and wake up and record on a schedule - there was some resentment to that: I remember I had to go into a kind of school-teacher mode and tell Ari one night that she’d sang herself hoarse and needed rest. She was fifteen so it felt natural to tell her that and of course she was moody about it, she just wanted to keep going! But I’d say, in my schoolteacher voice - you’re going to take the edge off your voice, go rest up! What was really important to me was that even if I had ideas of guitar parts or anything I’d want the Slits to play it all themselves. I remember with one song I had an idea that an acoustic guitar would fit - I played something and I remember Viv saying ‘I can’t play that’. But for me, as an engineer I never wanted to creep in on people’s music. They’re the ones who have to take this on the road and repeat it and repeat it and repeat it. And I want their way of playing - they’d ask to be shown ‘what to do’ but I never allowed myself to do that. It was a disciplined, hard-working recording scenario and I always had in mind, this is their career, and it was fascinating to see them grow. For me, virtuosity isn’t important, what I love is bands that feel together and unified and that’s what I wanted to bring out, The Slits’ solidity and unity.