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Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 12:01 pm
by Adam Blake
Hadn't heard that one for ages, John. It's even funnier than the official version. And I heard this BEFORE I ever heard the Shangri-La's "Give Him A Great Big Kiss" (arguably the greatest pop record ever made). What is that cat-like noise going on? God, Ari would have been only 15 when this was recorded...

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:32 pm
by alister prince
Viv was on Woman's Hour this morning. Adam you've morphed into her kitchen table, she talked about relearning the guitar at it, not your feet! Hey ho, greatness is often ignored in it's own domain!
I quite liked The Slits first time round, the had humour and a point to make, but I never saw them live. Most recently, a few weeks ago, I saw Viv in Exhibition', a film by Joanna Hogg. Hogg specialises in slow burning middle class (middle age) relationship angst, you'd love it Garth! Anyway whatever you think of the film, she was not bad atall.

Aly

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:42 pm
by Adam Blake
I sent her an email congratulating her after her appearance on Robert Elms. I thought it might jog her memory. She thanked me politely...

Maybe I should just ask her straight up for a plug. It seems so undignified but I could really use it at the moment.

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 4:37 pm
by Hugh Weldon
Just to add that I bought it the other day and devoured it immediately in two big gulps. It is very good indeed. I may say more later.

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:18 pm
by Adam Blake
I just found this on YouTube - great! The guitar entry at 1:42 to the first track, "NewTown", is a benchmark bit of Fuck Off School of Guitar Playing. For years I thought it was Viv's finest moment but she told me it was actually Steve Beresford. Feet of clay and all that. Ari's vocal outro, though, is a wondrous thing of beauty: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ehs2QQLteI

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 9:13 am
by Chris P
Adam Blake wrote:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ehs2QQLteI


truly superb gig (& sound quality) - thanks! "We bootlegged ourselves and sold it on Portobello!" ( I think I can glean why Life on Earth hasn't made it to Cd though, a Garth vindicating ramble!)

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 11:53 am
by Adam Blake
Chris P wrote: ( I think I can glean why Life on Earth hasn't made it to Cd though, a Garth vindicating ramble!)


Hah! When you say it hasn't made it to cd do you mean the various live anthologies that have come out over the last twenty years or so? Some of them are of very dubious provenance. I think the bootleg The Slits themselves put out is commonly known as The Y Record. It was sold in Rough Trade (where else?) with no cover and all the track titles on the label, leaving the listener to sort out what was what. It had some great stuff on it but was very rough compared to this positively pro sounding effort. (I bought mine in a junk shop in Kilburn in 1982. It was a good day.)

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 2:15 pm
by Chris P
Adam Blake wrote:do you mean the various live anthologies that have come out over the last twenty years or so?


Yup, In The Beginning has 6 of the 9 Cincinatti & SF tracks accordingly. Not sure how 'dodgy' but it's freely available for sale, so no legal challenge I suppose, which of course doesn't necessarily mean anything

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:15 pm
by Hugh Weldon
Going back to the book, I think the main thing is that it's a lot more than just a punk rock memoir. Though there are tales and gossip a-plenty about the usual suspects, the abiding impression is of a woman struggling to find some way of being who she truly is.

What unsatisfyingly came to be known as 'punk' opens the door and provides the framework to enable her to adventure forth and do it. But as the book moves on to 'Side Two' it becomes more about life itself, and finding that some sort of satisfaction is achieved not by growing out of youthful craziness but by staying true to it.

It's such a refreshing contrast to the Morrissey tome which came out last year, which despite being blazingly well written for the first 100 pages or so rarely gets beyond the expected self-regard.

Viv though gets deeper and a lot more real. It's also different for girls, and while in no way overtly 'feminist', has more to say to women, especially in the later part about her IVF treatment, cancer, motherhood and feeling trapped in a claustrophobic marriage. (There is a lot of blood.)

The published reviews will tell you all you need to know about the broken family, genteel poverty and wild-child adventures in Muswell Hill and beyond, a blow job from Johnny Rotten, a prison visit to Sid Vicious, the whirlwind that was Ari, etc etc. More important for me was not so much all that and the music but that need you sometimes have as you get older to measure yourself against your contemporaries.

To read someone who can say something like "I'm too outspoken for most people, they think you're rude if you tell the truth. 'Punk' was the only time I fitted in. Just one tiny sliver of time where it was acceptable to say what you thought." for me makes her one of those rare people you feel you might really be able to share something with, in these safer latter days.

Encountering her in this book reminded me of walking across Shepherd's Bush Green one day on the way to a gig. Coming in the other direction, a bald middle-aged man who I recognise as Mick Jones of the Clash. Unusually our eyes meet and there is something almost like mutual recognition, though I know it's only one way. Just like the time at that Farm gig when Wylie got up with them to do 'Sinful' and I turned round to see Mick looking on with a sort of big-brotherly approval. Or the time after that incredible first Clash gig at Eric's when I just went up to him and shook his hand, speechless in awe at the whole sweaty triumphal excitement he'd helped to create.

Three 'meetings' and not a word exchanged, and though it may sound a bit silly it's as though we'd silently acknowledged a sort of shared secret knowledge. Mick's former girlfriend says a lot more in her book. But the feeling I get is not so different.

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:43 pm
by Adam Blake
Dammit, Hugh, I might have to BUY the bloody thing now...

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 9:59 pm
by Garth Cartwright
Hey guys, I read it! It was in the Peckham library and I was interested in it not so much for the tale being told but because the writer is not in any sense "famous" in the way that Lydon/Morrissey etc are but that the book has sold well. Not a "best seller" but it's reached an audience well beyond what might have been imagined initially. I asked my old editor at Serpents Tail why this was - he has edited many UK music biogs and played a small part in this one early on - and he replied that the book got picked up book clubs which are largely populated by middle aged, middle class women: while few of them would have shared Viv's punk experiences many would like to feel they could "relate" to her. Book clubs can create best sellers - We Need To Talk About Kevin sold nothing when first issued in the US. Indeed, it sold so poorly that its publisher declined to put it out here so Serpents Tail picked it up for a song and put it out. Once the book clubs got it - middle aged mums discussing a book about a mum with a troubled teen - it sold over a million here!

Anyway, as not being part of that gender or class I'm not perhaps the ideal reader. But I was very much a punk and heard Cut so many times when it was released (and owned the NME and Sounds - both put them on the cover as crustie Page 3 girls). The early chapters about lower middle class childhood and adolescence are very dull and Viv shows no real skill as a writer. It's kind of like reading anyone's old diaries - memories of family fights and holidays and first fumblings. Dull. Like most teens of the time she is crazy about music but feels there is no role for her as a musician as its boys game. Odd that she never mentions Suzi Quatro or Joni Mitchell or Carol King or Barbara Lynn. But she's a boy's girl in many ways. The punk stuff is more interesting altho there's far too much on her buddy Sid Vicious - I got the feeling that this part (and others) were filled out at the insistence of publishers. Mick Jones flickers along as a very nice chap but there is far less about him as an individual than about Sid - and while the Silts supported the Clash many times she never once describes them in concert. Actually, Viv's not much good at describing anything but herself - she comes across as both neurotic and narcissistic.

That said, she does paint a picture of her fellow Slits - not particularly pleasant, Viv doesn't like many people (her kid sister seems to vanish from the book early on - unless I missed a tragic exit?) and the only reason she focuses on Ari and Palmolive is as they are in The Slits so she conflicts with them. But her tale telling is all over the place - after lots on the 76 early 77 days 1978 is done away with in half a chapter! What went on that year? No idea, Viv tells us nothing. The Slits had it easy - not that Viv admits this - Ari's wealthy mum and all her connections, boyfriends in the Clash and Pistols, scenesters, Peel crazy about them, Island giving them a deal and CBS another. But they lacked the focus and discipline (and talent) to make it. If they'd been less well connected - and less photogenic - they'd be a 77 footnote like Eater (who also made a couple of decent 45s). Oh, I was surprised to find Viv was 24 when Cut came out - I thought they were all teens.

The book should be of no interest after punk, right? Actually, it improves. Perhaps her memory is better or it just took this long for her to find her own voice but as she describes a very middle class media life, single-life, marriage, motherhood, a struggle with cervical cancer, shifting out of London to Hastings (something that's happening very regularly nowadays), the disintegration of marriage, the resumption of playing, meeting up with Teresa and Ari again, learning to play again and going out on the road in the US etc. It's certainly not a great biography but it is deeply felt and carries an honesty that Lydon and Morrissey's books lack.

That said, Viv is pretty similar to those two. She's spiteful - I couldn't believe she said such unpleasant things about her ex-husband simply because their daughter will soon be old enough to read this. And she gives too MUCH detail - so the first blowjob she was ever called on to give was to J Rotten might be of passing interest. That she wasn't any good is I guess of interest to some. But to learn that his dick smelt of stale piss is the kind of voyeuristic memoir nonsense that, I'm guessing, came into play with Prozac Nation some 20 years ago. Again, I guess her editor emphasised that there is a real market for female "confessional" autobiography - "misery memoirs" - and told her to load the detail in.

Is Viv's book a good read? No. But it is a raw one and the author - while very full of herself - does come across as a real human being - as opposed to Morrissey being just a mirror for his own self love and Lydon simply snarling as if in a panto'. We recently discussed the commodification of punk and I guess this book is part of that - no matter how minor a player you too might have a book in you!

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 12:59 am
by Adam Blake
Yes, I must admit that after awhile I started to think: this lady isn't actually a very nice person. Not that she has to be, of course, but I was sort of pre-disposed to like her - what with her having been in The Slits and all. I liked Ari and Tessa very much. Ari was bonkers but she was good hearted, and Tessa is sane and kind. But Viv… The fact that she airbrushed me out of her book was quite hurtful. But that aside, Viv's cold heartedness makes her a better writer than many of her contemporaries and I would say that this book deserves the plaudits it's received. The best book on Punk remains the oral history "Please Kill Me", compiled and edited by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. But Viv's book is about a lot more than punk. As a history of pain and illness and suffering it is quite an epic journey.

She looks great these days. I am sure the whole experience has done her the world of good. Let's face it, she is an infinitely better writer than she is a musician or songwriter.

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 12:42 pm
by Hugh Weldon
Reviewing my review above I was probably a bit gushing and subjective. Yes, I do think there's a coldness to her which comes across in her recent music and a lot of things in the book. Not much of a sense of humour either. But it's compensated for by the fact that she communicates something solid about change, maturity, experience, and the non-punk part of the book is probably the most interesting and convincing in some ways. Perhaps it shouldn't be classified as a music book really - it's just a compelling memoir - and it's always interesting to compare and contrast with someone of a similar age who has gone through some similar experiences.

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 1:13 pm
by Adam Blake
Hugh: yep. I think that's why the book has done so well. Certainly for women in their late 50s and early 60s. I can imagine there must be many who can deeply relate to Viv's book. So in that sense, she is carrying on the work of The Slits: providing a strong, non-conciliatory female voice for other women - which interested men can eavesdrop on if they want to.

Re: Viv Albertine autobiog

PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:39 pm
by john poole
I did think that the book was a "good read" even for this reader who would look forward to a year with no Lydon, Rotten, or the S*x P*st*ls. She was justified in resisting the ghost writer that her then manager wanted to employ.

I was much less keen on the film (Exhibition) that she acted in - the kind of thing that gives "art house cinema" a bad name.