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Review: Viv Albertine’s Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. December 4, 2014

Posted by sjroby in Book reviews, Music.
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Another Netgalley review written from a free advance copy. And this may be the best thing I’ve read out of the Netgalley freebies I’ve had so far. Recommended for old punks, for feminists, for women, for men.

Wow. I know of Viv Albertine as the guitarist for the Slits, and that led me to request the book, but as entertaining (and enlightening) as the chapters on those days — trying to be taken seriously as a band of women in the 1970s, dating Mick Jones, hanging out with the Clash, the Sex Pistols, and other legendary bands, and a lot of other musical adventures — are, it’s part 2 of the book, set after the Slits break up, that I found surprisingly riveting. Getting out of music, fighting cancer, becoming a mother, realizing her marriage isn’t working, and reinventing her life yet again, Albertine always comes across as frank about her occasional failings. The section about her return to music in recent years is something of a triumphant finale to the book. She may not be a household name for the Slits or for her new music, but her place in music history is guaranteed. I just bought her recent album The Vermilion Border via eMusic and it sounds pretty good. I hope both the album and the book get the attention they deserve.

For the benefit of those who are interested in the punk days, this is an exceptionally valuable addition to all those books about the Sex Pistols, the Clash, et al. There’s been at least one book about the Slits already, but not from the inside. And you haven’t seen these perspectives on Mick Jones, John Lydon, Sid Vicious, Keith Levene, and others before.

You can find some Slits and Viv Albertine videos on Youtube. Here’s one to start with: Confessions of a Milf. It’s a good smart feminist rock song, not a dumb pop song.

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