ARTIST: Liz Phair
TITLE: Exile in Guyville
YEAR RELEASED: 1993
CHART ACTION: #196, #12 Heatseekers
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Never Said was a video. Divorce Song, Fuck and Run, and a few others made college or alt radio.
LINEUP: Liz Phair, Casey Rice, Brad Wood, Tony Marlotti.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Chicago suburbanite begins writing songs, makes friends in the Chicago alternative scene, records album, makes history.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Makes history? Yeah, this is kind of a landmark in alt-rock. It was a young woman who was being unafraid to tell her story and emotions. It was blunt. That was quite unusual, especially in the alt-rock world, for a woman to be so blunt and open.
The music is simple, yet has a power on its own. The simple instrumentation on many tracks, coupled with some sonic production tricks on others, gave the album a unique feel. Phair’s vocals were also unique at that time – instead of showing off a vocal range or vibrato, she was a lower-register singer with an unadorned voice.
However, the album is long (18 tracks) and some of the production makes the album feel longer. I realized that as much as I loved the album, by track 16 I wasn’t as familiar with it as I thought I was – which means I was tuning out or just stopping the record after a while. Yet, the record is tremendous, as an artistic statement and as art itself.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: The term Guyville is from an Urge Overkill song.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Three songs added on a re-release. They’re not vital.
GRADE: A: I thought hard about this grade. My grumpy side said it’s too long. My happy side said that this record brings me a lot of joy and there’s not a bad cut. I split the difference