Cover image for Clothes, clothes, clothes : music, music, music : boys, boys, boys : a memoir
Clothes, clothes, clothes : music, music, music : boys, boys, boys : a memoir
Albertine, Viv, 1954-
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First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Thomas Dunne Books, 2014.
Physical Description:
ix, 421 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
"A raw chronicle of music, fashion, love, sex, feminism, and more that connects the early days of punk to the Riot Grrl movement and beyond ... [Songwriter and musician] Viv Albertine's ... memoir is the story of an empowered woman staying true to herself and making it on her own in the modern world"
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ML420.A514 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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"Ms. Albertine's book is wiry and cogent and fearless.... Her book has an honest, lo-fi grace. If it were better written, it would be worse."--Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"Forget Katniss And Tris - Viv Albertine Is Your New Hero."--

The Rough Trade #1 Book of the Year!

Viv Albertine is a pioneer. As lead guitarist and songwriter for the seminal band The Slits, she influenced a future generation of artists including Kurt Cobain and Carrie Brownstein. She formed a band with Sid Vicious and was there the night he met Nancy Spungeon. She tempted Johnny Thunders...toured America with the Clash...dated Mick Jones...and inspired the classic Clash anthem "Train in Vain." But Albertine was no mere muse. In Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. , Albertine delivers a unique and unfiltered look at a traditionally male-dominated scene.

Her story is so much more than a music memoir. Albertine's narrative is nothing less than a fierce correspondence from a life on the fringes of culture. The author recalls rebelling from conformity and patriarchal society ever since her days as an adolescent girl in the same London suburb of Muswell Hill where the Kinks formed. With brash honesty--and an unforgiving memory--Albertine writes of immersing herself into punk culture among the likes of the Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks. Of her devastation when the Slits broke up and her reinvention as a director and screenwriter. Or abortion, marriage, motherhood, and surviving cancer. Navigating infidelity and negotiating divorce. And launching her recent comeback as a solo artist with her debut album, The Vermilion Border .

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. is a raw chronicle of music, fashion, love, sex, feminism, and more that connects the early days of punk to the Riot Grrl movement and beyond. But even more profoundly, Viv Albertine's remarkable memoir is the story of an empowered woman staying true to herself and making it on her own in the modern world.

Author Notes

Songwriter and musician Viv Albertine was the guitarist in the hugely influential female punk band The Slits. A confidante of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, Viv was a key player in British punk culture. Alongside The Slits, she collaborated with numerous musicians, including Adrian Sherwood, before marking out a career in television and film production. After a hiatus of twenty-five years, Viv's first solo album, The Vermillion Border , was released in 2012 to great critical acclaim.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Viv Albertine was a guitarist for the seminal female English punk band the Slits. Her memoir addresses three of her greatest obsessions clothes, music, and boys in what she calls a scrapbook of memories. Born in Sydney to a French father and Swiss mother, Albertine immigrated with her family, including her younger sister, to England and was raised in Muswell Hill, a suburb of north London (the same area, she proudly points out, that the Kinks hailed from). Her father was abusive; his behavior left her with lifelong emotional scars. She recalls hearing the Beatles for the first time and regards the music that she grew up with as being revolutionary. Numerous chapters discuss her troublesome teenage years of hard partying, art school, run-ins with skinheads, her marriage and divorce, and her successful struggle with cervical cancer. This pioneer and pivotal punk rocker discusses her relationships/friendships with fellow musicians Joe Strummer, Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, and Johnny Thunders in this fascinating insider's look at the punk scene from a female perspective.--Sawyers, June Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

An undercurrent of low self-esteem runs through this episodic, mannered memoir by former punk rocker Albertine, guitarist for the Slits. In spare, frank prose, she recounts her early infatuation with Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten, her success as a guitarist in an unheard-of all-girl band in the late 1970s, and her later troubles, when her marriage failed and her career stalled out. Growing up in the 1960s in Muswell Hill, North London, as the child of an unstable marriage, Albertine found a revolutionary, exciting "new world" in music by John Lennon and the Kinks. Her Corsican-born father criticized her when she announced that she wanted to be a pop singer: "You're not chic enough." So she settled for being a groupie: cadging fab clothes from Kensington Market ("glam rock"), attending Hornsey Art School, and dating Mick Jones of the Clash, who helped her buy her first guitar. Dressed in tattered punk wear from the Sex shop at the end of King's Road, she played with Sid in her first band, Flowers of Romance. Once Sid drifted to the Sex Pistols, Albertine joined the Slits, fronted by the classically trained 15-year-old, Ari Up. Albertine tracks the halcyon days of the band, touring and recording, which lasted until Tessa Pollitt's overdose in 1982. In "Side Two" of her memoir, Albertine writes about years of uneven romance, trying to get pregnant, and trying to find fulfillment as a Hastings "housewife." At the end of this bold, empowering work, Albertine returns to playing guitar to give her life direction again. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Honesty is at the core of this memoir. Albertine shares her story of pursuing a musical career-first as cofounder of a band with Sid Vicious and then as a member of the Slits, a cutting-edge punk group comprised of groundbreaking female performers. Albertine vividly describes how she struggled to learn to express herself musically and individually in a punk band culture with its singular people, fashion, sex, drugs, and lifestyle. Throughout, she fought to define herself during a time and in a profession that were dismissive of women. Yet she achieved success and acclaim. When the band dispersed, Albertine pursued work in film, marriage, and motherhood, facing other types of challenges: cancer, divorce, and a sense of lost identity. Albertine emerged stronger, redefining herself and beginning a new musical career on her own terms. Here, she tells all in bold, often shocking, detail. Her story is engrossing, and it is a twofold one: an insider's insightful view of the early British punk music scene and a personal account of a woman confronting numerous of life's difficulties. Verdict Fans of punk music will certainly want to read this book. Others will find food for thought in Albertine's experiences and resilient approach. For large entertainment and circulating collections.-Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



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 when I was fifteen. We were together for three years and are still friends now, which I think is nice. In all the time since my first sexual experience I haven't masturbated, although I did try once after being nagged by friends when I complained I was lonely. But to me, masturbating when lonely is like drinking alcohol when you're sad: it exacerbates the pain. It's not that I don't touch my breasts (they're much nicer now I've put on a little weight) or touch between my legs or smell my fingers, I do all that, I like doing that, tucked up all warm and cosy in bed at night. But it never leads on to masturbation. Can't be bothered. I don't have fantasies much either - except once when I was pregnant and all hormoned up. I felt very aroused and had a violent fantasy about being fucked by a pack of rabid, wild dogs in the front garden . I later miscarried - that'll teach me. This fantasy didn't make me want to masturbate, I ran the scenario through my head a couple of times, wrote it down and never had a thought like it again. Honest. (Please god let that old computer I wrote it on be smashed into a million pieces and not lying on its side in a landfill site somewhere, waiting to be dug up and analysed sometime in the future, like Lucy the Australopithecus fossil.) Here we go then, (genital) warts an' all ... 2 ARCADIA 1958 My family arrived in England from Sydney, Australia, when I was four years old. My sister and I had three toys each: a Chinese rag doll, a teddy bear and a koala bear. We were not precious about our toys. The dolls were repeatedly buried in the back garden, eventually we forgot where they were and they perished in the earth. The teddies we would hold by their feet and smash them at each other in vicious fights until they were torn and mangled, with eyes and ears missing. We didn't touch the koalas because they were covered in real fur and felt creepy. We sailed from Australia to England on a ship called the Arcadia , according to a miniature red-and-white life-belt hanging on a nail in the bathroom. It was a six-week journey. One of my earliest memories is of my mother and father tucking my sister and me up in bunk beds in our cabin. They told us they were going to dinner, they wouldn't be long, and if we were worried about anything, to press the buzzer by the bed and someone would go and get them. This all sounded perfectly reasonable to us, so we snuggled down and off they went. About thirty seconds later, we were gripped by terror. I was four, my sister was two. Once the door was shut and my parents had gone, the reality of being alone at night in this strange place was unbearable. We started crying. I pressed the buzzer. After what seemed like ages and quite a lot of pressing, a steward appeared and told us everything was fine and we should go back to sleep. He left. Still scared, I pressed the buzzer again. For a very long time no one came, so I carried on. Eventually the steward came back and shouted, ' If you press that buzzer once more, the ship will sink and your mummy and daddy will drown. ' I didn't stop pressing and Mum and Dad didn't drown, they came back from dinner to find us bawling. At four years old I learnt an important lesson: grown-ups lie. 3 PET SOUNDS I wish I were a girl again, half-savage and hardy and free. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights My sister and I were quite feral little girls. We weren't like girls at all for a few years, quite unemotional, verging on cruel. We had a dog called Candy. She was a white Yorkshire terrier and she ate her own poo. Her breath smelt. After she had an operation (so she couldn't have puppies), she lay in her basket trying to chew the scab off her wound. I suppose we all do that in a way. My sister and I taught Candy to sleep on her back, tucked up under a blanket with her front paws peeping over the top. On Guy Fawkes Night we dressed her up in a bonnet and a long white dress (one of our christening gowns), sat her in a doll's pushchair and wheeled her round Muswell Hill Broadway asking for 'a penny for the guy'. We didn't get much, but that wasn't the point. We got bored with Candy quite quickly and stopped taking her for walks. The only time we called out 'Walkies!' and rattled her lead was when we couldn't get her in from the back garden at night. Eventually she caught on and wouldn't come in at all. One day somebody put an anonymous note through our door, 'You don't know me but I know your poor little dog... ' Telling us off for being mean to Candy. We gave her away. We had a cat too, Tippy. We used to build traps for her in the garden. We would dig a pit, cover it with leaves and twigs, then wait for her to fall into it, which of course she never did. So we tried to push her in instead. She ran away. Lastly we had three goldfish, Flamingo, Flipper and Ringo, all from the local fair. Flamingo died after a few days, Flipper died a couple of weeks later and was eaten by Ringo. Ringo had a nervous breakdown (no doubt guilty about eating Flipper) and started standing on his head at the bottom of the fish tank for hours at a time. Eventually I couldn't stand it any more so I flushed him down the loo. When the bowl cleared, he was still there, standing on his head. It took lots of flushes to get rid of him. That image of Ringo on his head at the bottom of the loo still haunts me. Copyright © 2014 by Viv Albertine Excerpted from Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys: A Memoir by Viv Albertine All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
Side One
1 Masturbationp. 3
2 Arcadiap. 4
3 Pet Soundsp. 6
4 Bad Boysp. 8
5 The Beltp. 11
6 You Can't Do Thatp. 16
7 Chicp. 19
8 John and Yokop. 21
9 Gonep. 23
10 The Kinksp. 25
11 Shit and Bloodp. 26
12 Too Cool for Schoolp. 29
13 Woodcraft Folkp. 35
14 Music Music Musicp. 39
15 Hello, I Love Youp. 50
16 Amsterdamp. 52
17 Art Schoolp. 62
18 Dingwallsp. 69
19 22 Davis Roadp. 75
20 Peacockp. 77
21 Horsesp. 79
22 First Lovep. 81
23 The Leapp. 84
24 Viv and Mickp. 87
25 The Clashp. 89
26 First Guitarp. 91
27 The Roxyp. 95
28 Mick and Vivp. 98
29 Something in the Airp. 103
30 Twist of Fatep. 106
31 Shockp. 110
32 Blow Jobp. 113
33 Chainedp. 117
34 The Shopp. 125
35 The Flowers of Romancep. 132
36 The 100 Clubp. 136
37 Christmas 76p. 140
38 Me and Johnny Tp. 142
39 Heroinp. 146
40 Shiftp. 150
41 Sidneys Dreamp. 152
42 The Coliseump. 153
43 Daventry Streetp. 155
44 The Slitsp. 158
45 Ari Upp. 161
46 White Riotp. 172
47 Jubileep. 185
48 Peel Sessionp. 188
49 Abortionp. 191
50 Sid and Nancyp. 196
51 Personality Crisisp. 200
52 Songwritingp. 207
53 Grapevinep. 209
54 Catp. 215
55 Simply What's Happeningp. 225
56 Space Is the Placep. 232
57 Return of the Giant Slitsp. 241
58 Overdosep. 245
59 The Endp. 249