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music

Viv Albertine’s autobiography

Flyer designed by Viv Albertine for a Slits show in Leeds,
UK, 1977.

VIV ALBERTINE was the guitarist for the Slits, the female London punk band that could have been called Upheaval. Her autobiography is a great book. It can stand next to Chuck Berry’s Autobiography (1987), Bob Dylan’s Chronicles: Volume One (2004), and Jenny Diski’s The Sixties (2009). But no genre can hold it.

The title refers to Albertine’s mother’s judgment on the only things her teenage daughter cared about—and the title hits home near the close of the book. “Side One,” the first half of the story, ending with the demise of the Slits in 1981, is a tremendous ride, coursing through infinitely fascinating tales of fighting off thugs leaping out of audiences and the mud-and-breechcloth photo shoot for their first album, Cut (1979). But “Side Two,” which chronicles Albertine’s life from then to now—through film school, her career as a TV director, marriage, motherhood, a

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