Guitar hero and world-weary survivor Albertine turns in a thoughtful, delightfully written memoir of the days of punky yore.
The title owes to the author’s long-suffering mother, who lamented, in the glitter-and-glam days that preceded punk, that all her daughter cared about was fashion, rock and lads. As she turns 60, Albertine shows no signs of diminishing interest in any of those things, though she’s decidedly had enough of being told what to do and, more to the point, what girls can’t do: namely, play rock music along with the boys. Having done service for years as the guitarist for The Slits (not her first choice of names, she allows), Albertine, like her erstwhile boyfriend Mick Jones, revels in broad and eclectic musical tastes, but the one-two-three-four blasts of three chords and 1977 clearly command her allegiance. In celebrating that music, Albertine is sometimes bittersweet, for many of her comrades have since fallen, including Ari Up, Poly Styrene and Malcolm McLaren, who’s treated more kindly than in many other accounts. When the music ended, Albertine retreated into a marriage that became loveless and frustrating over its long course; she also survived motherhood and cancer. Throughout it all, she has resisted being told that she can’t do anything she wishes to, including write: “My so-called ‘manager,’ who in all the six months he’s been ‘managing’ me has never once come to one of my gigs, is now telling me that I’m a shit writer and can’t write a book about my own life.” We’re glad to tell the manager that he was wrong about the writing (and should have come to the gigs, too), for Albertine’s book belongs alongside the work of Jon Savage and Caroline Coon as a primary document of an explosive time in British music and British culture generally.
Just the thing for fans of punk—and of its heroines, too.