Clothes Music Etc

Viv Albertine’s autobiography, Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys (out now) is a brilliant read- frank and fearless and written very much in her voice (you can hear it clearly throughout). The mid-to-late 70s take up an appropriately large proportion….. Sex Pistols, The Clash, Malcolm, Subway Sect, Don Letts, Johnny Thunders, Chrissie Hynde et al but it is Viv and The Slits who are at the heart of the book and the spirit of those times as seen through her eyes- provocation, feminism, empowerment, guitars, dressing and how to present yourself but also the upfront sexism/misogyny they faced from within the music industry (from the local pub scene upwards), hostility from members of the public, violence, confrontation, spitting, and overarching it all the desire to do and be different. There’s also stained jeans, periods, sexually transmitted diseases and a sympathetic portrait of Sid Vicious. At the time of writing I’m only half way through it, so haven’t got beyond the split of The Slits yet but it’s a compelling read.

Not at all Typical Girls.

Oh Ma Corazon

Some kind soul has uploaded The Clash’s 1979 song Spanish Bombs onto Youtube alongside newsreel footage from the Spanish Civil War. Their most folk-punk moment (English Civil war excepted maybe), this song is a sublime piece of Strummer-Jones songwriting and playing. It’s all about the ratatattat drumming and the multi-tracked acoustic guitars and Joe’s timeshifting lyrics- jumping back and forth between the days of ’39, Federico Lorca dead and gone, and the ETA bombings of discos and casinos, all as imagined by Joe while flying in on a DC10 tonight. There’s also a theory that in this song, during the chorus, Joe is bidding farewell to ex-girlfriend Paloma (Palmolive of the Slits).

Bet You’re Wondering How I Knew

As a follow up to yesterday’s post here’s some Slits. Viv Albertine, Ari Up (above) and Tessa Pollitt never sounded better than on this Slits cover version of Marvin Gaye’s song, where they twist its rhythms about and give it a punky-dubby makeover.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine


Viv Albertine, guitarist with The Slits, aged 17.

Viv Albertine, ex-Slit, aged 54. Some people get all the luck with aging don’t they?

Viv has a solo album out imminently. Her website has a pledge page where you can contribute to the cost of recording, mixing and production in return for a stake in it, although I guess the imminent release means this might all be paid for now. There was a solo ep in 2009 that came out on Thurston Moore’s label which I’ve got someone but can’t put my hands on at the moment. In the meantime, to convince you that this solo album might well be worth a tenner of your pay try these two youtube clips.

If Love, a cool little song from the Flesh ep with some nice Slits-style guitar and singing. I’m not allowed to embed it so follow the link. Very good.

And Confessions Of A Milf, a barbed song about motherhood and mid-life, played live…

>Typical Girls


Last night Mrs Swiss and I saw a performance by Sheffield’s Gay Choir (a friend of ours is in the choir) and they did a very good version of this song- Typical Girls by The Slits, four part harmonies and everything.

Ari Up

Ari Up (The Slits)
17th January 1962- 20th October 2010

05 In the Beginning There Was Rhythm.wma

The Slits ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’

One of the central strands of 1977 punk was that ‘they can’t even play their instruments’. Seems to me (not that I was there) that The Pistols could all play, and at least half of The Clash were talented musicians when they started and more by the time they finished. Many of the other bands knew more than three chords.

When they started The Slits couldn’t play. Ari Up, Palmolive, Tessa Pollitt and Viv Albertine had ideas, anger, humour and enthusiasm though. Assisted by Dennis Bovell’s reggae production skills they made their first album Cut, an inspired mix of punk and reggae, with songs about shoplifting and typical girls. They mucked about with peoples’ ideas of how a female punk band should look and present themselves. And like many punk groups they had a great cover version- I Heard it Through The Grapevine.