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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


Patti Smith - Horses
I saw a picture of her in NME, I think it was a Charles Shaar Murray piece or something, before the album came out. And I saw this picture of her and I almost had a little jump in my throat. I thought; 'My God, I think I might have seen, for the first time, a female whose music is going to resonate with me.' I was scared.

I was at art school with Mick Jones in Chelsea. I didn't know him very well but I was outside the HMV in Marble Arch on the day the record came out and lo and behold I saw Mick Jones there. He said; 'What the hell are you doing here?' I said; 'I'm waiting for the shop to open to get the Patti Smith record, Horses.' And he said; 'So am I.' And that totally bonded us.

It was also the first time that a woman was so cool that a guy would queue up. A guy like Mick, who was so into rock & roll and knew everything about everyone, he was there queuing up for Patti Smith. And I think she utterly changed things. Suddenly it was cool to be in her gang. Up until that moment all I'd ever aspired to be was to be in the boys gang. And I took that from her and we took that on with The Slits. We wanted to be a gang so cool that guys wanted to be in it. And it seems like nothing now, girls are in bands all the time and everything but they ruled the roost. All you could be was be a girlfriend or a groupie or follow them around. Until Patti Smith. She redefined that completely.

Back then I'd never seen any porn. The only way you could see porn back then was to go to porn cinemas. Not like now where it's all over the internet and everything. But I'd never heard a girl breathing heavily or being very sexual, or making sexual noises like she's fucking. And that's the first time I'd heard that. So it was almost pornographic. But in a great way, in an empowering way. And again, to do it without being embarrassed. Girls were so uptight back then, 1975. Girls were like Mary Hopkins and wearing florals and Laura Ashley type things. So to hear a girl be sexual, out loud, in front of other people in her songs, building and building to a sort of orgasmic crescendo was utterly extraordinary and life changing. If I could have even taken a quarter, or an eighth of that and been confident, and not caring about looking vulnerable, and not giving a shit, if I could have taken a tiny part of that I would have been, well, maybe I did take a tiny part of that. Maybe that's why I managed to go into The Slits.

Our fans have been inspired by us but I don't think it was as very base and visceral as that. We were rebellious and we were quite wordy, we had a stance but I don't know. Ari being so young, I don't know if she had that sexual confidence. I mean, she was a virgin for years in The Slits.