As part of our ongoing Long Play series, opbmusic is playing selections from Liz Phair’s album “Exile In Guyville” all day throughout the broadcast on Tuesday, June 19.
When it first debuted, the very radio unfriendly album received critical accolades all across the board. Written as a retort to “Exile on Main Street” by The Rolling Stones, which Phair touted as the ultimate guy’s band, the album allowed us to hear cutting, yet cheeky, songs about desire and isolation from a woman’s point of view. In the male dominated rock music scene of the ‘90s, Phair’s debut was as refreshing as it was jaw dropping.
Female empowerment wasn’t necessarily anything new, but Phair’s lyrics, combined with raw guitar noise and her often imperfect alto voice incited a louder type of girl power that contemporary pop releases like Madonna’s “Erotica” did not. And unlike those other albums, Guyville still manages to get eyebrows raising with each play, even 25 years later.
Many of the songs were originally recorded as demos in Phair’s childhood home in Chicago, under the stage name Girly Sound. These early recordings are now rare and coveted by Phair fans and indie music lovers in general, and it seems that everyone who happened to live in the Windy City in the ‘90s has a story to tell about the elusive demos, making them the Woodstock of the Chicago rock scene (“I was there…”).
The final cut of “Exile in Guyville” was produced partially by Brad Wood, who also worked with other strong female acts of the era like Jale and Veruca Salt. But Phair’s heavy hand in the production of the album ensured that her distinct sound was established early on, with her inexperience only helping to make the vocals and guitars shine more.
While many more songs from the original Girly Demos would make their way onto later releases such as “Whipsmart” and even “Whitechocolatespaceegg,” every one of the eighteen tracks that ended up on Guyville seemed to fit perfectly. It’s a truly classic album that deserves its 25 year anniversary reissue.