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Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  9,894 ratings  ·  877 reviews
The guitarist for seminal female punk group The Slits recounts playing with Sid Vicious, touring with the Clash, dating Mick Jones, inspiring “Train in Vain,” and releasing her solo debut in 2012

Viv Albertine is one of a handful of original punks who changed music, and the discourse around it, forever. Her memoir tells the story of how, through sheer will, talent, and fear
Paperback, 432 pages
Published May 22nd 2014 by Faber & Faber (first published May 12th 2014)
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  9,894 ratings  ·  877 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it

I’m not big on music memoirs, in fact I’d rather ram a dead water vole up my nose than read one, but there was something about the ten thousand good reviews of this book which persuaded me. Turns out, they weren’t wrong.

Rock music is so tediously predictable. As the sun rises in the east so there will be white boys in a rock band. It’s such a white boys’ club. How many female rock bands have had any sort of career? Ten? Maybe. What about female rock musicians in otherwise male bands? There’s a
Joe Valdez
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
The Year of Women--in which I'm devoting 2021 to reading female authors only--continues with Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys, the 2014 memoir by Viv Albertine, former lead guitarist of the punk band The Slits. I considered skipping this based on its purchase price ($14.99). Another tale of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll in the days when they were great? But the reviews sold me and I am glad they did. This book is electric. I felt myself being plugged into an amp and ...more
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-read-next
This memoir delivers a multi layered reading experience. This book covers much more than sex drugs and rock n roll although it does that too. The raw quality of Viv Albertine’s writing is startling and I was captivated by her insightful musings. Much of her writing is open and she is often self denigrating, never shy in adding the humiliating parts of her sexual encounters. There’s many.

As much as I love a good rock memoir. I particularly love reading about women forging a path for themselves i
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Although she'll forever - and rightly - be known as the guitarist in that most original, uncompromising, and essential band The Slits, Viv Albertine has brought the same questing, creative, feminist principle she showed as a musician and songwriter to bear on all aspects of her subsequent life. One of the results has been a series of second careers as a filmmaker, ceramicist, solo musician, and latterly actor. Another is this inspired memoir, by far the best I've yet read by a veteran of the Pun ...more
K.A. Laity
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I kept thinking I'd already written this review because the book has so completely seeped into my consciousness. This is a warts and all memoir that tests you at the start to see if you're strong enough to make the journey, throwing the messy chaos of her early life at the reader with both hands. I doubt the teen Albertine and I would ever have bonded as friends -- she's just too much of a girly girl for me, I never dealt well with the 'boy crazy' types -- but I so admire this woman, I cannot te ...more
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I like The Slits and I'm very interested in the punk era however significant parts of this book are not about punk. What's more even if I had no interest in punk, or indeed no idea about Viv Albertine, I am sure I'd still love this book. I devoured it. It's just brilliant.

Split into self-contained chapters, Viv variously describes growing up in Muswell Hill, her family, school, teenage experiences, working at Dingwalls, punk, The Slits, close relationships with some of punk's biggest names, mak
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This gritty memoir was written by Viv Albertine who was at the epicenter of the London punk rock scene and was in one of the few all girl punk rock bands (The Slits). I loved this book because it was written in a a strong and distinctive female voice. Topics include: crushes on boys, periods, fashion, pregnancy, the quest for the perfect pair of shoes, abortion, finding and losing love, motherhood, domestic malaise, relationship violence, and sexism in many forms.

The book captures four time per
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Viv Albertine is interested in three things. Can you guess what they are? Spoiler alert: They're a part of the title.

She talked a lot about these things, which upon first thought made me think she was incredibly shallow and superficial. But what I came to realize as I read was these are things that have had a significant impact on her life over the years. Most people know Viv for being the guitarist for the Slits, which is what made me want to read the book to begin with. I didn't know much else
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to both devour this and savor this; which is telling that a book is really, really good. Don't let the reviews and interviews about this book fool you; everyone wants to focus on what this book talks about regarding her relationships to household punk names that precede her: Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten, Johnny Thunders, Joe Strummer, Siouxsie Sioux, etc. These parts of the book are rich, yes, but Albertine was more than a muse; she was literally a superhero, and punk as fuck. This book t ...more
Wow what a fantastic memoir!

You don't have to be a fan of The Slits, or even punk for that matter, to love this book. Albertine courageously pours her heart and soul onto each page, recounting not only her involvement in the early UK punk scene but her relationships, her struggles trying to become a mother, her battle with cancer and her search for identity outside of being just "wife" and "mother". Such a powerful woman proving that allowing yourself to be vulnerable is not a sign weakness but
Caroline O'Donoghue
Jul 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I find most memoirs by fascinating women hard-going because they usually make me feel boring, and frumpy, and like I was born twenty years too late. I avoided this book for several years for that reason. I didn't have the energy to be jealous of Viv Albertine's life. But what I was surprised to learn was that, even though Viv Albertine has every good reason to be a narcissistic writer – she is, after all, the First Lady of the London punk scene – Clothes, Music, Boys is brilliantly funny, genuin ...more
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-bought
Superb. Great book. Viv Albertine was in the band, The Slits, that were a great big deal in my young age. For years I totally forgot her and the band. Then recently, and by mistake, I heard her latest album "The Vermilion Border" which is fantastic. The lyrics were witty and wise, and the music itself sounded so fresh - there were traces of The Slits in the mix, but it came out sounding totally new to my ears. Then there is this memoir. Probably one of the better music memoirs, almost ever. On t ...more
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love music biographies, and it was definitely interesting to read about the 70's british punk movement from the perspective of Viv. This was feeling like a 4 star book until I got to the last part, which I really loved. Not only is this a great reflection on a seriously influential moment in time, but there are so many great bits about being a woman, artistic inspiration, and how to keep your identity intact while having a family (or NOT doing that). My heart was kind of breaking for girls in ...more
Nov 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you've ever wondered what Johnny Rotten's junk smelled like in 1977, Viv Albertine will tell you. She will also tell you about the time she got crabs from a junkie in a squat in Amsterdam, and she and her mom (!!!) combed them all out in their tiny kitchen and smashed them with the backs of spoons. And about the years of IVF treatments and gory miscarriages she endured to have a baby. And, gorgeously, about how something inside her made her keep practicing the guitar until she found her uniqu ...more
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Read a library copy and once finished I bought my own. That's how good it is. ...more
Fred Garnett
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Terrific book, I love, love, love Viv Albertine! (Just been voted by MOJO magazine as the best music book of 2014) I think this is possibly the best book on the punk era in British music, although England's Dreaming by John Savage is kind of "definitive" about the scene overall. Viv Albertine's more personal memoir tells us more directly about the scene, how it began and emerged, then developed, as she knew many of the key players (Mick Jones, Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious). She was part of the ama ...more
Alex Sarll
"Anyone who writes an autobiography is either a twat or broke. I'm a bit of both.” What an opening. And then into a first chapter in which the former Slits guitarist gets straight into how she never saw the point of masturbation, but did once have a fantasy about a pack of rabid dogs, and then got embarrassed lest anyone ever find where she’d written it down. All of this as if unaware that she has just written it, not in an old computer, but in an actual book. She’s not unaware, of course, nor e ...more
Oct 21, 2014 rated it liked it
I received this via Goodreads First reads in exchange for an honest review

An interesting sometimes "Meh" read for me... Overall it was an enjoyable ride. Some stories made me laugh,other had me raising my eyebrows. It was a journey into the past, getting a glimpse of her life and the times back then.

It had an abrupt feel to the story-telling style, but in a good way... she keeps ya on your toes not sticking to a straight 'Point A to Point B' writing style.

Would recommend :) Happy reading!
Nat K
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book! While I knew of Viv Albertine (and The Slits), I've never actually listened to their music. However I'm intrigued by that whole era of the 70s when music was still evolving, along with fashion, and so many new paths were created, which is why I started to read this book.

I found the cast of characters in this book to be absolutely fascinating, you couldn't make something like this up!

I appreciated Ms Albertine's honesty about her life and struggles as a woman, artist
refreshing, shocking a bit, profound even, i think, autobiography of viv albertine's first memories coming by ship to england from australia, growing up a bit feral in single parent home in london in muswell hill, art school in 1972 (she didn't get through it), hanging with crews in squats, the success of sex pistols and sex clothes shop, the start of the clash, the start of the slits, the dissolution of the slits, her marriage, her horror of trying for a baby and IVF, having a baby and right aw ...more
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"It's OK not to be perfect, to show the workings of your life and your mind in your songs and your clothes. And everything you do in life is meaningful on a political level. That's why we're all so merciless about each other's failings and why sloppiness is derided." I really liked this memoir by a woman punk pioneer, the guitarist from the Slits. I liked how it was structured - Side One and Side Two, since it did feel like there were two different sides to her life. Side One is about growing up ...more
Nov 07, 2014 rated it liked it
I absolutely loved the first 2/3 of this. Reading about her early life, the inception of the slits and punk in the UK in the 70s/80s was fantastic. Loved it. But because its a memoir, and an autobiography, then she delves into the complete tedium of her infertility struggles, her marriage, her boring life in Hastings, an embarrassing infatuation with fucking Vincent Gallo--and it all just eroded the enthusiasm i had in the first 2/3. Maybe it's a common thing with autobiography, that as the writ ...more
Niklas Pivic
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really loved the start of this book:


Never did it. Never wanted to do it. There was no reason not to, no oppression, I wasn’t told it was wrong and I don’t think it’s wrong. I just didn’t think of it at all. I didn’t naturally want to do it, so I didn’t know it existed. By the time my hormones kicked in, at about thirteen years old, I was being felt-up by boys and that was enough for me. Bit by bit the experimentation went further until I first had sex with my regular boyfriend wh
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
the clothes my opinion the title its very fun and the music conroversial thats cool
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing

So much about this book is brilliant. I don't really enjoy The Slits' music but I saw Viv Albertine speak at a panel chaired by Simon Reynolds of Post-Punk-People and she really stood out as she wanted to just be a creative person, not an echo or a statue, while obviously being a normal person, suburban, not hip or ironic.

The book is in two parts, her youth and her time in the punk scene and then The Slits, then her post Slits life as a London creative and latterly a mum and housewife. You assu
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
Surprisingly the majority of readers have given this book three, four and five stars! Is this because they are ex Slits or ex punk fans - or even existing Slits or punk fans? I read it as it was a chosen book for my book group - and although I knew many of the high profile names within the book, I have to confess to never having heard of Viv Albertine so needless to say I wasn't over excited about the prospect of reading her auto-biography. That said, I did find it quite interesting but wasn't p ...more
Cassie Bone
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Full of contradictions, but not the interesting, nuanced kind that you’d expect from an autobiography. Just the convenient kind.
I loved the Slits. I really wanted to love this, and even though I tried, I couldn’t. If anything, I wished I never read it in the first place.
Also: the brand name-dropping in the second half of the book is unbearable. I don’t care what make your stove is (Bosch), or your car (Audi), or which designer made your V-neck slate-grey jumper (Donna Karan). Despite constant r
Ben Winch
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
Maybe it’s fitting that I’m trying to review this book amid the chaos of school holidays, since to a large extent it’s a book about overcoming domesticity – the story of a woman who resurrected a musical career after 20 years and cancer and a child and a broken family. It’s a harrowing read. It’s also fascinating for anyone with an interest in the UK punk era, because Viv Albertine, as well as being a guitarist/songwriter and rabble-rouser in her own right, was friend and intimate to many of the ...more
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
In 1976 when Viv Albertine was taking heroin with Johnny Thunders and hanging out with Sid Vicious I was reading 'Little House on the Prairie' and mourning the loss of my Guinea pig. My only knowledge of punk at this time was an upsetting story I’d read, probably in the Daily Mail, about punks cutting off cats ears to pin to their jackets. So, when she cheerfully describes how mean she was to her pet dog as a child Im not disposed to like her.

My feelings change as the book goes on, although I'm
Frances Chapman
Nov 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: punk-rock
Honest and matter-of-fact, I found this account of life in an intriguing time often lacked insight and many of the stories were left unfinished. For example, we are with Albertine when she meets Sid Vicious and we watch the development of their friendship, and see him fall in love with Nancy Spungen - but we don't find out where Viv was when he died or how she reacted to his death. Similarly, we meet Nora Forster, Ari's mother, and begin to care for the character, and we meet Johnny Rotten and h ...more
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Born Sydney, Australia. French/Corsican father, Swiss mother. Brought up in North London (Muswell Hill). Quite poor. Comprehensive school. Favourite subjects, buying records; clothes, boys, art, English. Age17 went to art school. Dropped out and worked at Dingwalls, music venue Camden Town. Went to another art school met Mick Jones, saw The Sex Pistols first show. Bought Horses, Patti Smith. Dropp ...more

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