Synopses & Reviews
Shortlisted for the UK National Book Award in the Popular Nonfiction Book category
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. Albertines 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 Albertines remarkable memoir is the story of an empowered woman staying true to herself and making it on her own in the modern world.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“The Slits guitarist chronicles what it was like to live through punks first wave.”—“57 Books to Read This Fall,” Fall Preview Feature, New York Magazine
“[A] bold, empowering work."—Publishers Weekly
" [A] fascinating insider's look at the punk scene from a female perspective" —Booklist
"Viv from the get-go was fabulous, exciting, cool and inarguably integral to the history of punk. Her book, an eyewitness account of love, chaos and reflection, is a gender slashing, guitar smashing report from the radical front."—Thurston Moore
"I saw Viv Albertine of The Slits…How do I feel? Lucky….I realized I hadn't really witnessed fearlessness in a long time, at least not at a rock show. As one of my friends put it, more succinctly: ‘This was one of the punkest things I have ever seen." —Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia) reviewing Viv Albertine show in Brooklyn for NPR Music in 2009
“Oh @viv_albertine I salute you. Such honesty!”—Nigella Lawson on Twitter
“Viv Albertine was a member of all-female punk band The Slits. That's a fascinating stroy in itself, but her upbringing and, more importantly, her frank and visceral style make this a really gripping read. Shocking and enjoyable.”—The Bookseller (A Top 5 Monthly Bookseller Choice for June)
“While we see the world through Albertines eyes, its the rare, raw, glimpse into the birth of punk that makes this book so relevant…. Hearing the story from a womans point of view makes for very interesting reading… The pace is sharp and punchy, just like punk lyrics… Rarely can a book be so personal yet still resonate with a whole movement—and beyond.”—Stylist Magazine (UK)
“Albertine's music has never offered easy answers or comfortable conclusions. This brave, funny, honest autobiography doesn't either, and is all the more admirable for it”—The Mail on Sunday (UK)
“[Albertine's] book is both a bold chronicle of her personal ups and downs and a historical document that blows holes in the established punk narrative in which men are the major players and women merely window dressing.”—The Independent (UK)
“A fresh, insider's take on punk.”—Evening Standard (UK)
“A frank and fearless account of sex, drugs and life on the cultural frontline.”—Esquire Weekly
“'With a title that is an incantation and a picture of the gorgeous author on its cover, Viv Albertine's autobiography is quite something. It promises a punk snog'n'tell, but is a real tease: strident, uncertain, compelling, with a structure that jerks all over the place via snapshots of Albertine's life. This is maddening and magnificent all at the same time.”—Suzanne Moore, The Guardian (UK)
“Unflinching, candid, revelatory: the perils of being a pioneer.”—Jon Savage, award-winning author of Englands Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond
“I've always loved Viv Albertine and I love her even more now I've read this affecting, oddly beautiful memoir.”—India Knight, author of My Life on a Plate
“The Slits were perhaps the most subversive punk group of all....their adventures, musical and otherwise, are at the heart of this searingly honest memoir.”—The Observer (UK)
“A brutally honest book about the blood, guts, sweat and tears that went into becoming a woman in the Seventies. You don't need to be a fan of the Slits or even punk to be gripped from the off”—The Telegraph (UK)
“Love or hate the punk movement this memoir of those turbulent times by The Slits' guitarist is infused with humanity and vulnerability that gives it far broader appeal”—The Sunday Express (Holiday Reads Recommendations) (UK)
“Her voice is important in the back story of women in British rock, but she is now as original and interesting an entertainer in words as in music.”—The Times (UK)
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 fearlessness, she forced herself into a male-dominated industry, became part of a movement that changed music, and inspired a generation of female rockers.
After forming The Flowers of Romance with Sid Vicious in 1976, Albertine joined The Slits and made musical history in one of the first generations of punk bands. The Slits would go on to serve as an inspiration to future rockers, including Kurt Cobain, Carrie Brownstein, and the Riot Grrrl movement in the 1990s. This is the story of what it was like to be a girl at the height of punk: the sex, the drugs, the guys, the tours, and being part of a brilliant pioneering group of women making musical history. Albertine recounts helping define punk fashion, struggling to find her place among the boys, and her romance with Mick Jones, including her pregnancy and subsequent abortion. She also gives a candid account of what happened post-punk, beyond the break-up of The Slits in 1982, including a career in film, surviving cancer, and making music again, twenty-five years later.
A truly remarkable memoir told in Vivs frank, irreverent, and distinctive voice, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. is a raw, thrilling story of life on the frontier.
About the Author
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.