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Baker's Dozen

Like Choosing A Lover: Viv Albertine's Favourite Albums
Thomas Hasson , April 18th, 2013 10:07

Always forthright, the great Viv Albertine discusses her favourite albums with Tom Hasson. T-Rex, Chris Watson, Don Cherry, Beefheart, Barrett, Kate Bush and.... The Slits all feature


Sun Ra - Space Is The Place
We used to put this on when we travelled across Europe on tours. We'd put it on at the beginning of that long tunnel in Switzerland. Bruce Smith would have his ghetto blaster on his lap and we'd go; 'Not yet, don't press the button yet, not yet. Ready, ready, now!' as we went through the tunnel. We'd all be quiet and it lasted exactly that twenty minutes. Whenever we went through that tunnel we'd have the song 'Space Is The Place' lined up. We'd absolutely zone out to it. Not stoned. We weren't all on dope or anything like that. You just absolutely lose yourself in the intensity of it, you let it build and build and build.

There are so many places you could cross over with Sun Ra, he seemed so extraordinary and out there but actually there were playground chants and beautiful rhythms that felt sexual or orgasmic, or just spiritual.

We thought it was great that Sun Ra can put little childish chants into his work, it validated us. As girls we realised our whole history is nursery rhymes and little songy things, it wasn't all guitar solos and virtuoso trombone playing or whatever. This is all we've got. So we could take things like that from great people like Sun Ra and build an identity for ourselves because we had no roles models as The Slits. Who were we going to copy? We had to snatch little patchworks from here, there and everywhere and then dig deep into ourselves to find how to build our music, how to build our image. Not in terms of a fake image, but who were we? How were we going to express ourselves musically? Who were we going to follow? We had no one to follow. So we thought; 'that's great, let's take our own nursery rhymes' and we made a whole song out of nursery rhymes. Bits from Sun Ra, bits from Slim Gaillard, it was exciting.

When we went to Philadelphia, which is where he lived, we thought we'd go and try and see him, go knock on his door. So we looked in the phone book and in the phonebook it said; 'Ra, Sun' and it had his address and phone number. So we all piled into the van and drove over to this little suburban street in Philadelphia and knocked on his door but he wasn't there, he was off on tour. But it was so funny to look in the phonebook and see 'Ra, Sun'. Nowadays you'd never get that.

And it's all very well thinking Sun Ra's cool now, or Syd Barret's cool now, but we were seeing these people and thinking they were cool 30 years ago when they really were right out there. Maybe it was the times, suddenly there was a crack, but not everyone jumped through that crack.