Faber & Faber, £14.99. Order at £13.49 inc. p&p from the Independent Bookshop
Music, Music, Music. Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine, book review
Grrrl power: life as a punk princess
"Anyone who writes an autobiography is either a twat or broke. I'm a bit of both," declares Viv Albertine in a no-nonsense memoir that documents her early musical discoveries, her career as guitarist in the punk band The Slits and subsequent incarnations as film-maker and solo artist.
Albertine's time in the limelight provided a brief but powerful jolt to a late-1970s music scene unaccustomed to gobby girls in plastic knickers and shredded tights mouthing off about art and feminism. The Slits' aesthetic was as important as their music, and Albertine led the charge with her "Pippi Longstocking meets Barbarella meets juvenile delinquent" look. "Men look at me and they are confused," she says. "They don't know whether they want to fuck me or kill me."
The obstacles facing a female musician trying to make it in a male domain have rarely been so bluntly documented. Albertine is ridiculed by studio techs and guitar salesmen, and faces outright hostility from journalists, managers and musicians. Violence and sexual assault simply come with the territory.
For a long time a career in music doesn't seem possible: "Every cell in my body is steeped in music, but it never occurs to me that I can be in a band, not in a million years... No girls played electric guitar."
Despite this, friendship, and sometimes romance, blossoms in the squats and clubs of west London where punk is born. The Clash's Mick Jones is loyal and sensitive, while Johnny Thunders is a talented junkie. Her recollections of Sid Vicious reveal a smart boy hamstrung by shyness, though his girlfriend Nancy Spungen is a pain.
Albertine rarely minces her words and blithely chats about masturbation, periods, getting crabs in Amsterdam and giving Johnny Rotten a blow job. Her book is both a bold chronicle of her personal ups and downs and a historical document that blows holes in the established punk narrative in which men are the major players and women merely window dressing.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 2 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Michael Keaton putting his acceptance speech away was the saddest Oscars 2015 moment
Alien 5: Sigourney Weaver will reprise Ripley role in new movie, says director Neill Blomkamp
Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank: TV show generates $3.1bn in repeat fees since final episode
Wolf Hall finale, review: Simply brilliant TV
All fiction follows one of six basic storylines, according to new research
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit