Friday, March 07, 2008

FDF Vol 1 Issue 87: Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville

Album - Exile in Guyville
Artist - Liz Phair
Key Players - Liz Phair - vocals, guitar, piano. Brad Wood - organ, synthesizer, bass, guitar, percussion, bongos, drums, backing vocals.
Produced By - Brad Wood and Liz Phair

Release Date - June 22, 1993

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I honestly am not really sure, just was looking through the collection and this sort of jumped out.

Overview - The debut release from Liz Phair shocked and amazed fans and critics alike. Phair, who in interviews claimed this album to be a song by song reply to the Rolling Stones "Exile on Main Street", at least in the sequence of her compositions and song by song pacing unleashed this massive debut. A series of demo tapes made is way to the record label and she was signed. The bulk of the early work landed on this album and Liz would get the accolades for having the #1 album on a series of year end best of lists. The album would also reach #15 on the Spin Magazine "100 Greatest Albums, 1985 to 2005" as well as being ranked in the Rolling Stone list of the 500 (328) Greatest Albums of all time. What it may have lacked in sales, it all made up for in buzz.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album opens with "6'1"" a jangly guitar meets guitar crunch all at the same time, it holds a solid 4/4 back beat. The next track, "Help Me Mary" sounds like Velvet Crush are backing her up mixing low fi with pop sensibilities. "Glory" is an acoustic guitar lead up with whispery vocals. The track is very short, tracking under 2 minutes. "Dance of the Seven Veils" begins as a solo electric guitar with Liz at the start she talks about being "rented by the hour" she does use the "c" word to refer to herself as well, but the song, as angry it as it may seem hold a steady course. One of the radio singles "Never Said" follows and it is the first more "uptempo" song on the record. With the help over overdubs Liz does some harmonies with herself and after a string of repeating "I Never Said Nothing" the song gets underway. The band really doesn't break a sweat, but the guitar has a little more bite to it. The are some slick vocal effects laid down as a single guitar bites out as the song begins to come to an end. "Soap Star Joe" keeps up some of the edge of the previous track, the guitar is really the only thing running along with Liz until the listener hears a few raps on the drums, but they quickly fade. The end of the track is filled with some harmonica work done very bluesy. "Explain It to Me" fades up with a guitar that has a full sound with only perhaps a chorus effect pedal working. Like a many tracks so far, these are showcase tracks for Liz and a subtle guitar line. Many of these songs would work in a coffee house setting. Each song seems to grow, albeit subtly, both musically and lyrically. Liz is in fine form on this track. The song fades out to bring up..."Canary", which features a solo Liz on piano. It takes about a full minute of her intro before she begins the vocal portion. Guitars return on "Mesmerizing". The song has an infectious groove to it, perhaps due to the maraca's with the guitar? The hand claps later along with the acoustic guitar solo really add a nice touch. One of her most notorious tracks "Fuck and Run" follows. A one night stand gone wrong? You decide via the download section. "Girls, Girls, Girls" follows and no, it is not a cover of the Motley Crue song. Liz is a strong woman, and in this track she talks about her independence, and being able to decide on things for herself. A surprisingly upbeat track called "Divorce Song" is up next. The lyrics are dark and sad, but as noted the track has a little life to it musically. It is a song that has both a sad, yet also has, a revival feeling to it on how life would be changing for both parties. "Shatter" is slower building guitar track, once more a solo guitar with some vocals before an extended instrumental section. The track is sort of layered with a droning guitar as well both during the instrumental section, and throughout. Another track done totally by Liz, "Flower" intros with some sort of bizarre keyboard or heavily fuzzed guitar notes as she chants over it. She sings of being, ummm, fucked like a dog and being taken home and having you like it. Ummm okay Liz, this track is pretty steamy and raunchy. The rock returns on "Johnny Sunshine" as the guitars jump right out and the drum line comes high up on the mix. The guitars have a glimmering chime to them as well. The overdubs on the vocal tracks stand out a lot on this track in particular. Liz does all the vocals and it actually works well. "Gunshy" is a guitar filled track and the liner notes provide a good laugh when it lists Brad Wood as playing "sick guitar". Sort of the same casual rock format is followed on "Stratford-On-Guy". One thing to note is there is very little bass guitar any where on this album For the first time upon listening again I noticed and then confirmed via the liner notes. Much of this record is sort of like a White Stripes two person deal, only Liz takes the lead. The album wraps up with "Strange Loop" another mid tempo affair. During the final portion of the song the bass line sort of swoops over everything, but at the same time the track sort of falls apart, meaning there feels like instrumental breakdowns and the like. As an album closer it is fine, it is neither over the top nor too boring.

Where are they now? - Liz is still very active. She has released a total of five studio albums (a new one is due in 2008) as well as 2 Ep's. She has sung back up vocals for artists raging from Jimmy Eat World to most notably Sheryl Crow's "Soak up the Sun". She has done some soundtrack music work as well as tired her acting skills in front of the camera. She currently composes the original score for a "not yet on the air" CBS Program called
"Swingtown". Liz is a proud mother of one son.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I have not seen Liz Phair in concert.

FDF Overall Take - The album, which is currently out of print yet easy enough to find is considered still her watershed release. The album still has not sold more than a million copies yet the accolades both when it was released in 1993 to current day this record is a must for music fans. The simple "DIY" aesthetic that lead up to this release as well as the no holds barred lyrics and content might turn some folks off, while it turns others on. Liz may never have another record like this in her, both others may disagree. An essential release.


Liz has an official site you can check out here.
Her myspace page is here

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

MP3's have been removed...4/24/08 12noon ET

** Language/Content Warning**

Divorce Song
Fuck and Run
Explain it to Me
Never Said

The album is currently out of print but you can find it used easily enough here for example.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request


At 11:42 PM, Blogger Ello said...

Oh now This is GOOD! ANd I had no idea she sang back up for Jimmy Eat World - who I love! See this is the problem with buying songs off itunes, I don't have cds that I read cover to cover and get all this insight!

This was awesome as usual!


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