Sunday, July 09, 2017

Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys - Viv Alvertine

Since first discovering the Slits via (most likely) England's Sounds magazine, I have been fascinated by the group though I have found that I prefer their attitude and style more than the music itself. But when I found out that Viv, their guitarist, wrote a book, I was more than interested in learning her point of view as part of the early British punk rock scene.

Just a few years older than me, she lived through the excitement of the 60's music scene, dug the 70's glam happenings and naturally gravitated towards the punk scene as it emerged. Hanging out with many of the early members, particularly Sid Vicious, she became a familiar face, was befriended by Malcolm and Vivienne of SEX, was somewhat romantically linked to Johnny Thunders when he spent some time in England (and he turned her on to heroin) and was Mick Jones' (the Clash) girlfriend for a time. She joined the already existing Slits, replacing their original guitarist and finding a place for herself that she hadn't known before. She has plenty of tales of the band's escapades - touring, recording and romantic - and then, like most groups, the band dissolved rather anti-climatically.

In "Side Two", Viv gets into her post-musical life, which takes her back to college and into film and video work and she marries. She spends years desperately trying to get pregnant (during which she gives up her career) and this consumes her life and her description sounds like an extremely unhealthy obsession. But, it finally happens. It almost kills her, but it happens. (Sorry, an obsession I cannot relate to.) And then, jeezuz freakin' krist - she gets cancer! This is another long and drawn out recovery and she slowly - excruciatingly slowly - brings herself back to health. That's when she decides she's no longer in love with the husband who has stood by her through all of these painful trials and tribulations!To be fair, it sounds like he had moved on emotionally as well. She - again slowly - tries to reclaim herself through art and music and makes more mistakes, but comes out alive and reasonably whole.

I really enjoy Albertine's writing style - filled with excitement and imagery, with chapters that are short - sometimes just a page or page and a half - which seems quite punk rock, doesn't it? As usual, her time in the music scene is the most interesting for me, but even her post-musical life was filled with enough drama to keep you engrossed. I really enjoyed this one!