Mesmerizing

Liz Phair Headlines


05-31-08: LIZ DISCUSSES SCORING SWINGTOWN
From the Chicago Tribune:

"I don't know how organized it was, but there's this sense that there was some swapping of partners."

"For my parents, they're just like, 'What?' "We all thought it happened in Lake Forest."

"I never could have done it without Evan (Frankfurt) and Doc (Dauer). There's a lot of technical stuff that I still don't know," Phair said. Though all three create the music together, she focuses on the non-technical aspects. Creating the score is "all tied up in the emotional changes of the characters for me."

"I'm cannibalizing a lot of the songs I'm writing now, and I'll go in and rip off some three-chord thing from a song I've written before," Phair said. "It comes out sounding totally different and it's a lot of fun."

[Thanks to Maureen Ryan / Chicago Tribune for the article.]


05-29-08: LIZ TO PERFORM GUYVILLE ACOUSTICALLY LIVE CONTINUED
Dates for San Francisco and Chicago have officially been added to Liz's Exile In Guyville acoustic tour.

Tickets for the Chicago show go on sale on Saturday, May 31st (Ticketmaster). More details can be found at the Chicago Tribune and Chicagoist.

Tickets for the San Francisco show go on sale Sunday, June 1st (Ticketmaster or LiveNation). More details can be found at SF Weekly and SFist.

For more details on both shows, visit Spin.

[Thanks to Rachel from the Support System Mailing List for passing along the info.]


05-21-08: NYC SHOW SELLS OUT, SECOND SHOW ADDED
Liz's show at the Hiro Ballroom on Wednesday, June 25th sold out in less than 15 minutes. A second show for Thursday, June 26th was added.

More info can be found at BrooklynVegan

[Thanks to Paige and BrooklynVegan for the details.]


05-19-08: LIZ TO PERFORM GUYVILLE ACOUSTICALLY LIVE
From Pitchfork:

June 25, just a day after she reissues her legendary debut LP Exile in Guyville in an expanded edition on new label ATO Records, the incomparable Liz Phair will take the stage at New York City's Hiro Ballroom to run through the album's 18 nearly flawless tracks, acoustically. Dates for similar events in Chicago and San Francisco can be expected shortly.

More details can be found at Billboard, The Catbirdseat, Stereogum, and Wired.

[Thanks to Paul Thompson / Pitchfork for the information and XRay from the Liz Phair Forum for passing along the info.]


05-18-08: HEAR REMASTERED "FUCK AND RUN"
You can listen to the remastered "Fuck And Run" (in m4a format), courtesy of The Catbirdseat.

[Thanks to XRay from the Liz Phair Forum for the link.]


05-06-08: THOUGHTS ABOUT GUYVILLE REISSUE PLUS HEAR REMASTERED "DIVORCE SONG"
Courtesy of Jason Long...

"Carrie Brownstein from Sleater-Kinney now writes a blog for NPR.org. One of her entries last week was about the upcoming reissue of 'Exile in Guyville' and her thoughts about the album. There is also a stream of the remastered version of "Divorce Song" from the reissue at the link below."

http://www.npr.org/blogs/monitormix/2008/04/return_from_exile.html

[Thanks Jase!]


04-12-08: JOHN HENDERSON RESPONDS TO GUYVILLE / MAIN STREET COMPARISON
Here is the first part of my Q&A with John Henderson:

KL: Did Liz always plan Exile In Guyville as a response to the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street? Since you had access to her notebooks and such, you might have some insight or an actual answer to this one.

JH: In one sense, the answer would be no. When we first went into the studio, songs were recorded on the basis of how simple it seemed it would be to do them - so "Chopsticks" and "Glory", for instance, were done early on. The idea was to not burden the beginnings of the process with complexities, given that the whole studio recording process was totally new for Liz, and pretty new for me too. Not much thought was given to any final concept; I've got notes which elude (optimistically) to two albums coming from the process - one minimalistic (mostly guitar and vocals, which would have included stuff like "Chopsticks"), the other more produced and with more instrumentation. Both of them would have been your average 35 minute long albums . . . but I stress that this was entirely a consequence of trying to map out a vague rationale of rerecording all the best Girly Sound stuff 'properly', as well as about a half dozen newer songs with some sort of goal involved. But this goal was sort of an artificial one and not any kind of overriding plot; Liz and I may have discussed it for all of three minutes.

I can't say it's an accuracy per se, but probably one of the biggest assumptions that people make about the album was that it was always mapped out concisely with a specific set of songs and a concept and that Liz was totally in control of the process. The reality is more complex. Originally, Liz had very little interest going into the studio, as it presumably distracted her from her visual art. It took me many months to convince her to give it a shot, and even then she was fairly halfhearted about it. Additionally, neither Liz nor I had more than about $5 to our names. So Brad recorded quite a lot on spec. I gave him a wee little bit of money (very wee) and paid for the actual master tapes. I reckon it took Brad a while to warm to the project too; he gave the Girly Sound stuff one listen or so, and (though I cannot speak for him) seemed to think it was worth trying out, but I don't think he got really enthusiastic until some time into the process. About half the songs on EIG were either not written or not considered for the album when I was involved. A couple of good ones which were, to the best of my knowledge, never recorded or demoed at all. I may have these on a sort of recorded-at-home demo, but I haven't listened to it in years. Actually, I might never have listened to it!

In any case, the title Exile In Guyville wasn't a part of conscious reality until much later, and the whole idea of it relating to Exile On Main Street (about which I still have my doubts) came much later. The majority (at least 75%) the songs were written before this idea came up, so I can only imagine that Liz "matched" songs to fit the concept. Evidence of this, to me, is that the connection between songs in many cases would seem to be quite contrived. When I was interviewed for the DVD, I gave Liz some crap for the whole Exile On Main Street thing, but she swore up and down that it was for real, and she's pretty honest about that sort of thing, so I guess it's real.

On the other level, the answer may be yes, in that - although their roots are hopelessly entangled - I don't consider what I was working on with Liz to be the same project as what became Exile In Guyville. Liz told me herself (recently) that after I left our project, she decided to put more energy into it, and sat home one day mapping it all out from her sensibilities, coming up with the title, concept and at least a couple of new tunes. That's the point at which EIG and EOMS were linked, despite the fact that earlier tracks were used for the eventual album and Whip-Smart.

The term "Guyville" is often credited to Urge Overkill, but they actually took it from Chris Holmes, who was a friend of all of ours and a musician in several bands and a student at the University of Chicago. He'd often drive up to our neighborhood from Hyde Park (quite far away in city terms) to hang out at the Rainbo and see his girlfriend Carla (who later married Randall from Ashtray Boy, on whose first album Liz contributed vocals to two tracks and with whom Liz played her first live show, also with Stuart Moxham from Young Marble Giants) and for him, it was "Guyville" - an increasingly trendy part of town with lots of guys scrapping by a living playing in sub-Touch & Go bands and hanging out in bars all the time and that sort of thing. Urge Overkill, who knew a good thing when they heard it, picked up on the term, and then Liz and then everyone else.

[Thanks to John Henderson for the answer!]


04-11-08: ATO SPEAKS (SORT OF)
From Reuters:

"Exile [In Guyville] isn't even available online right now," says Jon Salter, product manager at Dave Matthews' ATO Records, which is handling Phair. "With the rerelease, we're planning on getting it on iTunes, eMusic and Rhapsody to make sure that the greatest number of people are exposed."

[Thanks to Cortney Harding / Billboard / Reuters for the information.]


04-11-08: LIZ FINALLY SPEAKS
From Billboard:

Liz Phair Reclaims Her 'Independence'
April 11, 2008, 12:00 AM ET
Susan Visakowitz, N.Y.

Fifteen years after Liz Phair's classic Matador debut, Exile in Guyville, established her as an indie rock icon, the artist says she's ready to "bring that moment back to life."

In her first interview about the imminent re-release of Guyville, due June 24 on ATO, Phair tells Billboard it "was actually ATO's idea initially, but I did realize that we'd never done the 10th anniversary edition, and it seemed like a good thing to do. I jumped on the idea."

As previously reported, the new edition of Guyville includes four previously unreleased audio tracks and a DVD with a documentary about the album's genesis, which Phair says she was particularly excited to work on. "I wanted to ... revisit the scene that happened around Guyville in 1993," she says. "It was also a good way for me to establish my independence."

Phair, who started at Matador and then made three unevenly received albums for Capitol, says she decided on ATO for the re-release of "Guyville" because she "missed being on an indie. I never wanted to go to a major in the first place, but Matador basically sold me to Capitol, and when they divested, I was left there. It has been a long time since I could do what I wanted ... I can honestly say, for the first time in 15 years, I feel creative."

With that, Phair is in the midst of recording a new album for ATO, tentatively set for a fall release. "I have a strong vision that I can't quite articulate yet," she says of the new material, "but I'm hoping it'll be clear on the album."

For an extensive Q&A with Phair, please click here.

Reporting by Cortney Harding, N.Y.

[Thanks to Kevan for the links!]


04-09-08: OUR DAILY JOHN HENDERSON UPDATE
From the Liz Phair Forum:

[Regarding artwork for the Girly Sound tapes] I don't have the 'official' artwork, sorry! I don't recall there being artwork for the third tape, but there may have been. For the record, I have a tape that Liz made for me with totally different art than what's posted as the "real" art, so I'm somewhat inclined to suspect that it varied according to Liz's mood or circumstance. But once again, I might be wrong.

re: Ashtray Boy. Randall was staying with me for a couple of weeks. I can't remember why! Maybe just for holiday or something. And Liz and I were still roommates. Somehow, Randall and I decided to do an album - I think because he already had a few good songs. (And I hasten to mention that I had not a lot to do with the actual making at all; I just paid for it.) So Randall went downtown to the big public library and, over a couple of days, wrote the rest of it. Somehow, a connection was made with Dave Trumfio. Dave had a studio in the basement of a house he shared, and that's where the album was recorded. I wanted to be around for it, but there was a terrible mold problem and I got sick after about five minutes (first and only time that's happened to me!).

As Liz was on-hand, Randall asked her to sing a bit. And there you have it. Liz and I were not the best of pals at this time; it was probably right after I walked out of an album session with her, but before she moved out. Sometime around then, Stuart Moxham came over from London with his friend Simon, and that's when Liz played her first show. The flyer for the show was a classic and I wish I had it now, with crudely drawn maps for each person on the bill, alluding to their 'exotic' origins - Australia, Wales and Winnetka!

Another great unreleased Liz Phair thing I've got is the version of "Infidel" on which Liz sings all the verses, Randall joining in only on the chorus.

Also, THANK YOU to the many (disturbingly many, actually) people who sent me versions of "Tell Me You Like Me". Being the only person here who's heard the original version, I've got to give Liz props for doing a reasonable job of turning it into more of a conventional tune whilst still adhering to the creepiness of the original. But I still like the original best. For those who asked, the early version features the same basic tune as the later ones, and the lyrics are about 83% the same - some alterations, but you'd never consider it a different song. And many people mentioned "Thrax". I'd not have heard a lot of similarity if I hadn't heard the later versions - "Thrax" and the original version are pretty different, but the later versions of "TMYLM" and the GS version of "Thrax" do become a little more similar. But not any more than any number of Fall or CCR songs sound similar.

For me, this song represented another side of Liz and was on my shortlist for inclusion onto the first record. I don't recall Liz thinking highly of it, but Liz tended to like her newest stuff the most - which is pretty understandable. So I was a little surprised to learn she'd reworked it.

[Thanks to John Henderson for the background information!]


04-08-08: JOHN HENDERSON (GIRLY SOUND) CONTINUED
From the Liz Phair Forum:

The original recordings themselves were a bit odd - levels on certain tracks (within the four possible tracks of each song) were way too high or way too low, a lot of vocals were recorded at very high levels (it seems) - in short, much distortion and noise and weirdness is inherent in the masters. (In fairness to Liz, she did a better job recording this stuff than most people with similar experience would have.) Sometimes, just to get a decent mix, it was necessary to boost a track recorded at a low level to an astonishing extent - with all the noise and whatnot that comes with it. While occasionally this is annoying, it also adds to the general ambience y'all love, and aside from a little fix here or there, the tapes aren't going to be much different than they are. The other problem, of course, is that the GS stuff was recorded on a cassette recorder, so those (possible) four tracks on each song were competing for a very teeny band of space on the cassette. There was a lot of bleed, and little clean separation - so the idea that one could remix them very radically is a bit fantastic - most vocal tracks (for instance) carried a lot of the neighboring guitar track with them. Or so I recall. And many songs did not make use of all four tracks - sometimes just two or three. Plus any effects - Liz was clearly into having a lot of reverb on her voice, for instance - are on the track itself, and are not a product of mixing. There was some track bouncing done, so sometimes the guitar and main vocal ended up on the same track. So there wasn't a lot to mix, necessarily. Sometimes it was just getting the background vocals to a better level with the other track, and that was it.

That said, they may be much better than a lot of the bootlegs, and I'm sure new problems were introduced with each generation of copying, while at the same time the sometimes shrill quality of the originals was reduced. Once I get them digitally preserved, I'll A/B them to some of the bootlegs out there and let you know.

It's possible I have some or all of the masters, but I don't recall having them. But I've got zillions of cassettes from back then in a box, and I was terrible about labeling things. If Liz left them behind when she got her own place, then I would have them, since I'd never throw anything away without giving it a listen first, and I'd certainly never toss the masters. I'm in the process of moving, so I'll keep an eye out for any likely suspects. But I wouldn't hold my breath. It's pretty unlikely. In any case, the mixes I've got seem to be in great shape, and you'd probably not be able to do much better with the masters. Not to mention trying to find the appropriate four-track cassette recorder these days!

Two people e-mailed me about for details about the track which I referred to as "Backward Song" and existing in both forwards and backwards versions. It sounds like it's the same track later demoed for whitechocolatespaceegg as "Tell Me You Like Me", but I'm sure this version must be very very different. It's one of the most (if not the most) fucked-up recordings done for GS; much more postpunk and psychedelic in sound than any other track Liz did. Very abrasive and deranged and a little scary (in a good way). I listened to it last night. The "backwards" mix came about because the regular "forward" mix sounded like part of it was recorded backwards and then flipped. So I did a reverse mix to see how it would sound the other way 'round. (Rather cool, actually.) So that's one of the "missing" tracks. I suppose I could have done backwards mixes of all the GS stuff and then bootlegged them as the ultimate in Liz Phair obscurities, but I clearly wasn't thinking ahead!

[Thanks to John Henderson for the background information!]


04-06-08: WHAT'S KEEPING LIZ BUSY THESE DAYS
From the New York Times Book Review:

Phair, who lives in Los Angeles with her 11-year-old son, has "five jobs and no baby sitter". She's recording a new album, making a documentary about Exile in Guyville, working as a scorer on the CBS drama Swingtown and finishing a book ("fiction, not memoir"). She'll also be appearing on a kids' record called The Body Rocks "an educational disc about the human body on which I sang crazy '70s-style backup vocals, and for which I have become an animated character: rock nurse with guitar!"

[Thanks to the editors of the New York Times Book Review for the information!]


04-04-08: EVEN MORE REVELATIONS FROM JOHN HENDERSON (GIRLY SOUND)
From the Liz Phair Forum:

[I wrote:] I have a cassette player...

Funny that you wrote that, as today I was by Circuit City and bought a $19.99 Walkman, just to hear the remix versions of the three GS tapes, as my curiosity was piqued. It was a little scary putting them in a crap player which only temperamentally works, all the while thinking that there must be a good chance that the tape would be eaten, but I thrive on things which veer towards utter stupidity.

The good news:

1) They sound great, compared to bootlegs I've heard (given the sometimes rough way they were recorded). I didn't listen to everything all the way through, so take that with a warning.

2) Two "new" Girlysound songs!

One was actually redone later as a demo (never officially released) for WCSE, but from what I can tell no one's got this GS version - which comes in "backwards" and "forwards" versions. I've never actually owned a Liz Phair record or any bootlegs, so most of you are far more up on the details than me, so take this 'history' with that caveat. It's actually my third or fourth fave Liz Phair tune and would have been a candidate for the debut album, if it had been up to me. It seems as if I mixed this stuff in chronological order of recording, which would make this one from the same time as the first GS tape, but I sure wouldn't swear to that . . .

The other doesn't seem like it's ever been bootlegged (again, from my limited knowledge and experience) and has a different feel to more GS stuff - a bit sillier and more carefree. It's an up-tempo number and with kind of an on-the-road lyrics. I don't know what it's called - it's the only song for which I have a questionable title (which I came up with myself based on the opening line, in the grand folk tradition, but which is no guarantee that's what Liz called it) followed by my own question mark and a note to ask Liz what it was called - which I haven't done in the 17 years since I wrote the note! Definitely from the same period as the other stuff on GS 3.

3) I found most of my records about the pre-planning of what became Exile (sort of) and the song titles were based on what I copies from Liz's notebook at the time. Aside from the two above, the 12 songs bandied about as part of tape #3 (which, as far as anything I have says, had no name), comprise an accurate list. The titles I have for them are the same, except "Go Speed Racer" was listed by Liz as "Suckerfish", "Double Dutch" seems to have always been called "Whip-Smart", and "Stratford-On-Guy" was "Bomb".

4) Several "alternate" versions. I don't know if these are totally different recordings or if I just mixed them two times. I'd suspect the latter, but they don't follow in chronological sequence, so maybe they're different. I haven't compared them. The running times between versions are different, but not so different that they're clearly separate takes. Hey, I was pretty stoned when I mixed them! In any case, to satisfy at least a little of the mystery, these songs are "Johnny Sunshine", "Shane", "In Love With Yourself", "Slave", "South Dakota", "Go West" and the aforementioned song in both backwards and forwards versions.

The bad news:

None.

A minor historical note to those who keep track of these things:

The first GS tape seems to have been recorded in a different running order than how it was "released". And again, the master for it includes that backwards / forwards song. (Each of the three GS tapes was recorded on its own 'master' cassette on Liz's 4-track TEAC cassette recorder.) The second GS tape looks to have been recorded in the same order that it was released in - that would be pretty unusual for any recorder, but was certainly something Liz would have done when I knew her - easier to compile a master, I guess. The third one, I've no idea because my "official" version is somewhere in a box and the running order isn't online.

There you go. Hardly earth-shattering stuff, but the way I figure it, putting this mystery to rest allows us all more time to investigate the government's cover-up of alien encounters in Area 51. So let's hop to it!

[Thanks to John Henderson for the background information!]


04-01-08: MORE REVELATIONS FROM JOHN HENDERSON (GUYVILLE / GIRLY SOUND)
From the Liz Phair Forum:

Yes, Liz interviewed me for the DVD. It seemed like a good interview to me (we laughed a lot), but it lasted hours and since the DVD is (evidently) sixty minutes, there's a lot that won't be seen. Liz and I walked around Wicker Park for a while in the bitter cold and visited our old street and reminisced about making the record and burst into hysterics periodically, as it all seems pretty funny now. I quite like that Liz did a DVD and was brave enough to get the full picture from various sources. Pre-editing, anyway!

I don't mind answering questions, though I've more or less been silent for 17 years, except for an interview with Greg Kot, which was more a bit of a prank on Liz than anything else . . . I have enjoyed seeing people trying to scrap together a story from a few deliberately stilted quotes, so it seems a shame to ruin that pleasure. But oh well.

The third Liz Phair tape, yeah, I've got that. I just found it this week, weirdly enough. I actually remixed all three tapes when Liz and I were flatmates, with substantially better results (for the most part, and from what I can recall - I haven't listened to them in years and years) if only due to fewer generations of reproduction and the odd discovery of a missing track here and there. The third tape had some otherwise unheard songs, plus there are some other recordings about, I reckon - I recall a great tape of Liz performing "live" on the back doorstep in preparation for her debut live performance and things like that - a lot of tunes that ended up on Whip-Smart but with different lyrics and some different arrangements. I've never made tapes for anyone of any of it, so as versions at least, it's all unreleased. Which may be how it remains, as I'm too lazy trying to sort it out eighty bajillion cassettes. And I don't have a cassette player anyway.

[Regarding how Chicago has changed since 1993] Yes, it's very different. I remember not being able to get taxis from (say) Lincoln Park or someplace to there when I first moved there. Liz's interview with me took place about four weeks ago. It seemed like she was doing them all in just a period of few weeks, so as far as I know, they're all very recent. She interviewed me and a friend of hers in Wicker Park and then Steve Albini a couple of days later, but a lot of the interviews took place in LA and NYC.

[Thanks to John Henderson for the background information!]


03-31-08: THE ATO RECORDS PRESS RELEASE
In case you were curious:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2008


LIZ PHAIR CELEBRATES 15th ANNIVERSARY OF
EXILE IN GUYVILLE
WITH  JUNE 24TH REISSUE ON ATO RECORDS

Special Edition Features Four Never-Before-Released B-Sides
And Phair’s Exclusive New “Guyville Redux” DVD

Phair Gets Back Into The D.I.Y. Spirit With New Album
On ATO Records This Fall

 

It’s been 15 years since the release of the groundbreaking Exile in Guyville – and Liz Phair is marking the occasion by returning to her roots. Phair recently signed with the independent label ATO Records, which will release a special 15th anniversary edition of her landmark debut album on June 24th and her new studio album in the fall.

Exile in Guyville, which was out of print, will be available on CD, vinyl and – for the first time ever – in digital format. The special reissue package will include four never-before-released songs from the original recording sessions: “Ant in Alaska,” with Phair simply accompanying herself on guitar, “Wild Thing,” wherein she uses the melody and central line of The Troggs’ 1966 #1 hit as a jumping off point for an otherwise all-original song, “Say You,” which features Phair and a full band, and an untitled instrumental with Liz on guitar. Phair has also just completed a new, 60-minute DVD, “Guyville Redux,” for the reissue.

In “Guyville Redux” – which features an introduction by Dave Matthews, founder/co-owner of ATO Records – Liz and the “guys” of Guyville take us back to the making of the album, the male-dominated, Chicago independent music scene of the early 1990’s (which included Urge Overkill, Material Issue, and Smashing Pumpkins), and the Wicker Park neighborhood where it all happened. Phair interviews Gerard Cosloy and Chris Lombardi of Matador Records, which originally released the record, famed indie producer Steve Albini, Ira Glass of NPR’s “This American Life,” John Henderson of the elusive indie label Feel Good All Over, Brad Wood (producer of Exile In Guyville), John Cusack (who founded the Chicago avant-garde theater group New Crime Productions), Urge Overkill, and more.

Conceived as a song-by-song response to the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, Exile in Guyville was released in 1993, andranked #1 that year on both the Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll and Spin magazine’s year-end critics poll. Incredibly influential to this day, its place as a seminal rock album has been reaffirmed by its inclusion in countless historical “best of” lists over the past 15 years, including: “Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” Spin’s “100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005,” Rolling Stone’s “Women in Rock (the 50 essential albums),” Blender’s “Best Indie Rock Albums of All Time,” Pitchfork’s “Top 100 Albums of the 1990’s,” and VH1’s “Greatest Albums Of All Time,” to name but a few.  Exile in Guyville is, in the words of Pitchfork,  “a certifiable indie roadtrip classic.”

“Exile in Guyville is miles more complex than the porn-star manifesto it was often considered,” says Alan Light (former Editor-in-Chief of Spin, Vibe and Tracks) in an essay penned especially for the reissue. “Phair spoke for the uncertainties facing a new generation of women, struggling to find a balance between sexual confidence and romance, between independence and isolation….Exile in Guyville sat at the center of a culture in transition.”

 

###


[Thanks to ATO Records for the press release.]


03-31-08: EXCLUSIVE: BRAD WOOD CHIMES IN ON THE GUYVILLE REISSUE
Brad Wood speaks:

[The Guyville reissue was] remastered by JJ Golden @ Golden Mastering, 4 extra songs were mixed by me. I think the remaster sounds great: a little louder on cd, a bit warmer, but retains the spindly feel of the original issue.

The multi-tracks were found 5 years ago. We had them transferred from analog to digital 2 weeks ago, when the extra songs were discovered. There are more than the 4, but many of those are from the early Whip-smart sessions and don't qualify as EIG-era.

Honestly, a lot of it is "work versions". There must be 6 versions of "Whip-smart", from EIG to mid-1994. 3 versions of "Nashville". None of these have vocals, just bare bones arrangement ideas.

No vocals, lots of mistakes...

[Thanks to Brad Wood for the information and Robert Joyner for his help.]


03-31-08: "SAY YOU" AND THE INSTRUMENTAL? JOHN HENDERSON EXPLAINS
John Henderson speaks, from the Liz Phair Forum:

"Say You" is a cover of the rocksteady classic by Ken Boothe. Liz became enamored of this song, which she heard following my repeated plays of another song on the same album, Roy Shirley's "Hold Them". I had an arrangement worked out in my head of the latter song, which I think would have sounded nice with Liz's vocals. The song itself is a bit rough, and Roy Shirley - quite like Liz - has a rather inexact approach to pitch. It was my 'plan' to have Liz cover this song, and so my friend Tony and I worked out a musical approach which would have been really great - funny and sexy and quite a bit different than a lot of other things, but something which would have served as a nice foil. But Liz decided to cover the Ken Boothe song instead. Being fanatical reggae purists, this didn't make a whole lot of sense to Tony and me, since the the harmonies alone would be tough to ace, but an attempt was made with Tony on bass and Brad on drums. I don't like it much and I'm surprised to see it reissued!

The instrumental is a song I came up with. There never were any lyrics, and I suspect the tune itself was cribbed from a song I learned somewhere, but didn't write! So it's an "adaptation". I have it on cassette and will listen to it again and see for sure.

Similarly, the versions of "Ant In Alaska" and "Wild Thing" are Guyville versions and wholly different to the Girlysound ones. I never understood why "Ant In Alaska" wasn't released; it was mostly finished when I abandoned my role in Guyville, and (although I haven't listened to it in years) I seem to remember liking it. I played bass (which I don't play, actually) on "Wild Thing" and recall that we did this as a "warm-up" rather than a real recording. It's probably not as good as the "Girlysound" version, but that's what you get when you stick me on bass circa 1992!

Some stuff turned up on the next record, from what I can remember. I had nothing to do with that album, aside from whatever others remnants may have turned up on it - I "played" guitar on "Chopsticks", for example, which was actually the first thing recorded during the Guyville sessions. Somewhere I have the notes for Guyville, and my main recollection is that we had about a zillion backing tracks with very rough (but unfinished) vocal tracks, as Liz's voice tended to give out after a few takes back then. Some of these were finished after I left; others may not have been. I'll check. So there may be some backing tracks or alternate backing tracks which were in the can, but probably nothing really worthy. Liz didn't like to idle in the studio and was impatient to finish the record and claimed to me recently that she mapped it all out pretty solidly after I left, so I'd doubt there's anything finished that hasn't been released.

[Thanks to John Henderson for the background information!]


03-31-08: MORE ABOUT LIZ / ATO / EXILE REISSUE / NEW ALBUM
From Billboard:

Phair Signs To ATO, Guyville Reissue Due
by Jonathan Cohen, N.Y., March 31, 2008, 10:10 AM ET

Liz Phair has signed a new record deal with ATO, the first fruit of which will be a reissue of her classic 1993 debut, Exile in Guyville.

Due June 24, the set includes four previously unreleased audio tracks and a DVD with a documentary about the album's genesis. A new Phair studio album, her first since 2005's Capitol swan song Somebody's Miracle, is penciled in for the fall.

Fans will be most jazzed for the Guyville documentary Guyville Redux on the bonus DVD, which finds Phair interviewing Chicago music scene vets like producers Steve Albini and Brad Wood, her former Matador compadres Gerard Cosloy and Chris Lombardi, National Public Radio host Ira Glass and actor John Cusack.

As for the unreleased tracks, "Ant in Alaska" and "Wild Thing" originate from Phair's oft-bootlegged, pre-fame "Girly Sound" demos; the former was recorded under the name "Go On Ahead" on Phair's 1998 album whitechocolatespaceegg. "Say You" is a full-band cut that hasn't seen the light of day, and an untitled solo instrumental rounds out the package.

After becoming an indie rock sensation with the release of Guyville and 1994's Whip-Smart on Matador, Phair signed with Capitol for whitechocolatespaceegg. But her next two albums for the label turned her career in a more pop-driven direction, dividing fans and critics.

"I knew if I wanted promotional dollars, I would have to turn in something to get on radio," Phair told Billboard in 2003.

Her self-titled album that year sold relatively well (429,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan) and generated two Adult Top 40 hits. But Somebody's Miracle fared much worse, having sold just 81,000 units to date.

At ATO, Phair joins a family of artists including Radiohead, My Morning Jacket and Underworld, as well as a team of executives who worked closely with her at Capitol.

From CMJ:

Phair Revisits Guyville
Story by: Rebecca Raber | Mar 31, 2008

Liz Phair has signed with Dave Matthews' ATO Records, and the first release from this new partnership will be a 15th anniversary reissue of her groundbreaking debut Exile In Guyville. Due June 24, this new collection will include four previously unreleased tracks from the Guyville sessions, as well as an accompanying DVD featuring the documentary Guyville Redux. The film, which documents the making of the album and the early '90s Chicago music scene that birthed it, includes interviews conducted by Phair with Steve Albini, Matador's Gerard Cosley and Chris Lombardi, Urge Overkill, NPR's Ira Glass, John Cusack and others.

Exile In Guyville was first released in 1993 and is currently out of print. This new reissue includes a CD and vinyl release, and marks the first time the album will be available digitally.

Phair's last studio album, Somebody's Miracle was released via Capitol, and she plans to have a new one ready for her new label this fall.

From Spin:

ATO to Reissue Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville
The heart-stricken grrrl rocker's 1993 opus to arrive June 24 with additional tracks and DVD.
By William Goodman 03.31.08 2:22 PM

After 15 years and mountains of critical acclaim, Liz Phair's lo-fi, female-empowering, and romance-seeking 1993 opus Exile in Guyville will undergo the reissue treatment and release with additional tunes and a DVD June 24 courtesy of Phair's new label, ATO.

Four extra songs -- "Ant in Alaska", "Wild Thing" (inspired by the Troggs' hit of the same name), "Say You", and an untitled solo instrumental -- and a DVD documentary will accompany the album's original 18 tracks. Focusing on the indie scene in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, from which Phair's musical career was born, the DVD features an interview with Phair herself, as well as Windy City luminaries like Ira Glass of NPR's This American Life, actor John Cusack, producer Steve Albini, and members of Urge Overkill.

Sick of musical nostalgia? If so, worry not Phair fans, for the rockstress' new deal with ATO includes a new studio album due in the fall.

[Thanks to Jonathan Cohen / Billboard, Rebecca Raber / CMJ, and William Goodman / Spin for the reports.]


03-31-08: OUT FROM EXILE: LIZ SIGNED TO ATO RECORDS / GUYVILLE EXPANDED AND REISSUED
From Pitchfork:

Liz Phair Reissues Exile in Guyville, Signs to ATO
Phair interviews John Cusack, Ira Glass, Steve Albini, Matador dudes for accompanying DVD
by Amy Phillips

Yes, everything you've heard about Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville being one of the greatest albums of all time is true. The songs really do hit that hard. The lyrics really are that good. And the perspective of a smart woman navigating her way through the indie rock scene really is that necessary, even today.

Fifteen years after its Matador Records release in 1993, Exile in Guyville is getting the reissue celebration it deserves. On June 24, ATO Records will beef up the album with four bonus tracks from the original Guyville sessions as well as an accompanying DVD.

The bonus tracks: the solo cut "Ant in Alaska", a song inspired by the Troggs' "Wild Thing", the full band cut "Say You", and an untitled solo instrumental. "Ant in Alaska" and "Wild Thing" have both been previously attributed to Phair's notorious pre-Guyville "Girly Sound" demos.

The DVD: Guyville Redux, a documentary about the making of the album, with a focus on the indie scene in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, out of which Phair sprung in the early 90s. In the documentary, Phair herself interviews a series of luminaries connected to the scene, including radio/TV personality Ira Glass, actor John Cusack (whose role in High Fidelity pretty much epitomized the kind of guy Phair disses on Exile in Guyville), Steve Albini, Matador's Gerard Cosloy and Chris Lombardi, Guyville producer Brad Wood, members of Urge Overkill, and John Henderson of Chicago label Feel Good All Over.

And who do we have to thank for all of this Liz Phair goodness? Why, Dave Matthews, of course! Matthews is one of the co-founders of ATO Records, which in addition to putting out the reissue has signed Phair for a new studio album due in the fall. (Yes, she is no longer on Capitol Records.) AND Dave introduces the Guyville Redux DVD.

So between this, My Morning Jacket, and Radiohead, is it finally time to stop hating Dave Matthews?

Exile in Guyville reissue:

Original tracklist:

01 6'1"
02 Help Me Mary
03 Glory
04 Dance of the Seven Veils
05 Never Said
06 Soap Star Joe
07 Explain It to Me
08 Canary
09 Mesmerizing
10 Fuck and Run
11 Girls! Girls! Girls!
12 Divorce Song
13 Shatter
14 Flower
15 Johnny Sunshine
16 Gunshy
17 Stratford-on-Guy
18 Strange Loop

Bonus tracks:
19 Ant in Alaska
20 Wild Thing
21 Say You
22 [Untitled instrumental]

[Thanks to Amy Phillips / Pitchfork for the report and Brad Wood / Robert Joyner for the earlier behind-the-scenes reports.]


03-07-08: LIZ ON VENUS ZINE'S LIST OF "THE GREATEST FEMALE GUITARISTS OF ALL TIME"
Liz has made Venus Zine's list of "The Greatest Female Guitarists Of All Time". For the complete list, click here.

[Thanks to Venus Zine for the list and Marcus Gilmer / Chicagoist for the link.]


01-09-08: CAPITOL SEVERS TIES WITH LIZ PHAIR
From Entertainment Weekly:

All the acts that lost major label deals in 2007

As we embark on this fresh, new year, we thought it a good time to take stock of all the artists (or as many as we could remember like JC Chasez) who lost their major label deals during a tumultuous 2007. Some were dropped, others had contracts expire, and many were simply caught up in consolidation and closings. Of course, several have found new homes already, but plenty of bands are free agents. What does it mean for the music business in '08? Are more casualties on the way? Besides the Radioheads and White Stripes of the world, do you see a future for any of these acts? Any noteworthy acts we left off the list?

The list: Airbourne / Alexz Johnson / Alkaline Trio / Amerie / And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead... / Annie Steela / Ari Hest / Aslyn / Big Pooh and Little Brother / Blood Brothers / Bo Bice / Brendan James / Brett Ryan / Christian Daniel / Christina Milian / CMurder / Dandy Warhols / DMX / Fischerspooner / From First To Last / Goldie / Hedley / IMA Robot / INXS / JC Chasez / Jewel / J-Kwon / Joe Budden / Kelis / Kevin Devine / King Elementary / Liz Phair / Melissa Auf der Mar / Men, Women and Children / Moby / Mooney Suzuki / Natalie Warner / Nine Inch Nails / Northern State / Otep / Over It / P.O.D. / Paris Hilton / Paul McCartney / Phase 9 / Prophet Omega / Radiohead / Reeve Oliver / Ronnie Day / Ruben Studdard / Shaggy / Shout Out Louds / Skye Sweetnam / Sound Team / Sparklehorse / Stacie Orrico / Sugarcult / Summer Obsession / The Clipse / The Donnas / The Music / The Outline / The Redwalls / The Vines / What About Frank / White Stripes

[Thanks to Shirley Halperin / Entertainment Weekly for the report and Phair Head from the Liz Phair Forum for the heads-up.]


01-04-08: MORE LIZ / SWINGTOWN
From Billboard:

"Swingtown"

Bad behavior on shag carpeting will be explored in "Swingtown", which is set in the 1970s and features a cast of key-partying suburbanites. Created by Mike Kelley ("Jericho"), executive-produced by Alan Poul ("Big Love," "Six Feet Under") and music-supervised by Gary Calamar, the show will make use of tracks by Gary Wright, Rita Coolidge and Captain & Tennille. In between the licensed tracks will be an original musical score by Liz Phair.

[Thanks to Chuck Crisafulli / Billboard for the report and Jeremy Rea from the Support System mailing list for the heads-up.]




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