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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


Captain Beefheart - Safe As Milk
I was young, and I belonged to this organisation called the Woodcraft Folk. It's kind of a left wing, Brownie, Guides, type thing. It was quite cool and it's still going now. We'd all go on these massive camps and snog each other and sing lefty sort of protest songs. On one of these camps a boy brought his guitar and written in tape across the guitar case was 'Safe As Milk'. And I thought that was the most extraordinary expression. I thought; 'What does it mean, 'Safe As Milk'? His guitar is safe as milk? What, milk in milk bottles?' So I was asking and asking everyone over the next couple of months if they knew what he meant and eventually someone told me it was the name of an album by Captain Beefheart.

So I got hold of the album and I absolutely thought it was amazing. His voice, the letting go. I love people who just let go. It was incredibly experimental but every track is really short as well. So they're kind of like little pop songs. Again, they're very catchy. I love the mixture, like Captain Beefheart or Syd Barrett, of experimental and accessible in one hit. I so aspire to that myself and he does that with 'Yellow Brick Road', 'Abba Zaba', 'Zig Zag Wanderer', 'Electricity', they're catchy as well as being really extraordinary and out there.

I got most of his albums after that but that's the one that stands out for me and that's how I came across it. And then years later when I was in The Slits, I was sitting in a cafe in Portobello, he was in the cafe and he walked over to me and he said; 'I really love your hat.' It was a pink, silk, oversized beret and thank God I knew who he was because I looked him back in the eye and said; 'And I really love your music.' He was really shocked that this girl in pink polkadots knew who he was. That was my Captain Beefheart moment.