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

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  5,186 Ratings  ·  553 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
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Paperback, 432 pages
Published May 22nd 2014 by Faber & Faber (first published May 12th 2014)
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Paul Bryant

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
...more
Phil
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
Lynn
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
...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
El
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
...more
Lynx
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Nigeyb
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
...more
Tosh
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
Kelly
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
Ana
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
My muse.

I will never reach this level of badass.
Leah
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
TL
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!
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
Amy
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
Ingrid
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.
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
Tuck
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
Sarah
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
Meghan
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
Edmole
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
...more
Uri
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
M'ha encantat ❤
Niklas Pivic
I really loved the start of this book:

1 MASTURBATION

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
...more
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
Hannah Spector
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this so much! Went in just expecting a solid rock and roll memoir (and it's a standout in the genre) but also so much here about grappling with being a woman, reinventing yourself, and grappling along into middle age. Love it and am forcing it upon practically everyone I know.
Mike Clarke
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
'Anyone who writes an autobiography is either a twat or broke. I'm a bit of both.' With such commendable almost-honesty you can't help but warm to this book, which as with recent memoirs by Morrissey and Tracey Thorn, proves that there's more to rock autobiogs than just ghost-written self aggrandisement.

Viv Albertine was the motivating, organising force behind the Slits - proto-feminist punk rockers who paved the way for the more commercial Raincoats, Blondie, Chrissie Hynde, Marine Girls and ev
...more
Stefanie Onieal
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'll read any memoir written by a woman from the music world, particularly an English, punk rocking one! Entertaining read!
GK Stritch
May 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
Picked up Viv's book, read the first few pages, and skipped over to Johnny Thunders, which I enjoyed because it's real. I knew Johnny somewhat and wrote about him in CBGB Was My High School (published in 2011, but online on Authonomy [a now defunct HarperCollins project designed for writers to help other writers] HarperCollins Publishers Limited, (UK), 2010-2012). My sister and I had a friend at Gem Records and he'd give us the latest albums from the UK, so we knew about all the UK bands, long a ...more
Andrea
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I haven't been this sad to finish a book in a while. I can't believe I'd never heard of her before and now I feel like she's my favourite person in the world right now. I feel like I've lived Viv's entire life with her, and I didn't want to say goodbye. And what a life it's been! It's written chronologically, and for each time period she writes as if she is herself at that time.. so you really feel as though you're on that journey with her. She's a magnificent, brave unicorn and I feel like I've ...more
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
Debra
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is just a fantastic book. I've been a huge fan of the Slits since I was a teenager. But that's not really why I adored this book. Yeah, it was filled with loads of stories about the movers and shakers of 70s London punk, written with a lyrical sparseness that I found reminiscent of Patti Smith's Just Kids (another brilliant book about that era) - but with a tone of headstrong bewilderedness that just captures so well the feeling of being young and caught up in creating a world around yourse ...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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“I love that word. Forever. I love that forever doesn't exist, but we have a word for it anyway, and use it all the time. It's beautiful and doomed.” 40 likes
“Language is important: it shapes minds, it can include, exclude, incite, hurt and destroy. If language isn’t powerful, why not call your teacher a cunt?” 5 likes
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