Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys by Viv Albertine

Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys by Viv Albertine

Long time readers of the blog will know that discovered Viv Albertine when I volunteered for the Brighton Festival back in 2014. Her autobiography Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys was coming out, and she was doing this talk as part of the book tour.

I had never heard of her before, but instantly she was the inspiration I never realised I needed. It was exactly like when I discovered Caitlin Moran, something shifted, and everything was new.

cmb“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.” GoodReads.

This is a book written from memory, it’s candid and unflinching. Albertine is open about her ups and her downs, which skip between STDs, record contracts, life as a mother, and cancer.

The majority of the book covers her time before and during being part of The Slits, while the second half focuses on her marriage, motherhood, and finding herself again. While part one was fascinating, getting to see inside the world of Punk through the eyes of one of its members, it was the second half of the book that really struck me.

It was so refreshing, not only to read an honest account of the realities of marriage, but to read about someone feeling lost and needing to find themselves later in life. I’m only pushing 30, but to read about someone older taking risks and trying new things was a reminder that life really has only just begun. You can spend time over thinking and worrying, or you can live.

Albertine has been part of a music defining band, an artist, and aerobics teacher, has worked behind and in front of the camera, has created ceramics, gigged around the South East, and still is all of these things. She didn’t let anyone’s perception of who she should live her life dictate what she did, and even though that didn’t always cause happiness, it is inspirational.

I can’t recommend this autobiography enough.

What autobiography have you read recently?


6 thoughts on “Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys by Viv Albertine

  1. I read virtually zero autobiographies, and I don’t really know why. I used to read way more, back when I read less nonfiction that I currently read — wonder if those two things are correlated and if so how? This sounds interesting although I confess I am hugely intimidated by music people and feel slightly nerdy even just reading your review of this book. :p


    1. Haha! I’m mostly a memoirs girl, if I’m honest. Whole life stories intimidate me as well. I don’t think I would have read this had I not seen her talk, and been recommended it by a friend. It is rather wonderful though.


  2. I don’t tend to read very many biographies or Memoirs (Joan Didion and Helen Macdonals adise), but I ought to try this one at some point. The Slits were a part of my youth alongside other bands like The Clash and Siouxsie and the Banshees. It’s interesting to note just how many strong women were at the forefront of some of the key bands in the 1970s: Patti Smith, Siouxsie, Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex and Ari Up of The Slits (plus Debbie Harry/Blondie in 1980s). I’m not sure if that’s still the case these days…


    1. I forget how many women lead the movement back then, it’s all a bit unfortunately forgotten now. I’m so glad I read Albertine’s book for that very reason. I’m not sure there are the same sort of role models today, but maybe people thought the same in that era haha.


  3. I love the odd memoir or biography, especially music ones – but I was never a fan of the Slits and don’t really know their music at all. Would this detract from reading the first part? (I did buy a copy of this book – natch!)


    1. Because the book is part Slits life and part life after that I think you’ll be okay. It’s not really about the music, it’s definitely more about Albertine’s experience of the music instead. I’m not a huge fan of the Slits, although their cover of Heard it Through the Grapevine is a huge favourite of mine.


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