Viv Albertine: Clothes, Music, Boys

If you haven’t read it yet – what have you been doing?

Viv Albertine’s Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys, is a masterpiece. It is a story of growing up different, adventure, experiment, doubtful self-confidence, and the misogyny that even afflicted punk rock, liberated though it may have been in so many other ways. If you still put out a Xmas stocking, suitably ripped and torn, this should be in it.

One of the highlights of the book explains the guitar part on Newtown:

I stand alone in the darkened studio. Everyone else is up high in the control room. Dennis’s disembodied voice comes booming through my headphones, with Ari excitedly shouting instructions in the background. I try with all my might to concentrate and get the part right. I get a few bars into the song but the tape stops abruptly. ‘You went out of time on the beginning of the intro, I’ll drop you in,’ says Dennis. I count the bars until I have to come in and start playing just as before, so I’m up to speed then I’m dropped into the track. I’m completely focused on the task, absolutely determined to get it right this time. Phew, did it. The tape stops. ‘You were a fraction early. Try again.’ I can’t believe it, seemed all right to me. I try again. On and on it goes. We spend half an hour on the first few bars of the song. I want to cry but hold it in. I honestly don’t know what to do differently. I’ve lost all my self-confidence, all sense of judgement. I keep playing and replaying the part, not knowing what on earth to do to make it better. They play the tape for about the twentieth time, I flip. I thrust at my guitar furiously, not caring about timing, chords or tuning, I just smash my hand over the open strings, I run out of steam and stop. I wait for them to tell me off for losing my cool. ‘That was brilliant! Don’t stop! Do it again!’ And that’s how the guitar part of ‘Newtown’ comes about.

(Dennis is Dennis Bovell, of course.)

Here are my mystified memories of seeing the Slits and the Banshees in Croydon.

And here is the wonderful Flowers of Romance tree, which documents it all.

Rock Family Trees: New Range of Posters

Responding to popular demand we have introduced a new range of Rock Family Tree posters, the little sisters of the fine art prints. They are smaller than the signed prints, but still a good size at A2 – around 600mm by 400mm on 120 gms paper. This month we introduce our first five; The Flowers of Romance, Liverpool 1980, Hawkwind, Deep Purple, and a special exclusive Grunge tree, which has not appeared in any of the books and so is really something special. Look at them all here.

The posters in this range cost £20 + postage (free postage for orders of any two products or more). And while you’re in the shop, take a look around. We’ve added more trees to be viewed in deep zoom. Only scratching the surface of the range, of course, and we will continue to add more.

Next month we will extend the range of posters with another five. If there is one you would particularly like us to include let us know in the comments.

Flowers of Romance At the Hurlingham Club

We were very pleased to support The Sick Children’s Trust by donating a framed copy of The Flowers of Romance Tree (number 06/100) for their auction at a fundraising ball at the Hurlingham Club.

Here is a picture of the print, complete with frame, signature and plaque.


And if you didn’t make it to the ball, but want one of your own, you know what to do.