I truly loved Liz Phair’s early stuff, and the recent ATO reissue of her Matador lo-fi debut – the still-excellent Exile In Guyville – only reinforced my appreciation. While I can’t necessarily speak to the quality of her last few albums (from the little I heard, they didn’t sound all too impressive) it’s telling that when you do a google image search for “liz phair” the majority of the images that pop up are of the singer-songwriter either half naked or in her underwear. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself, as I’m all for half-naked women, but it only reinforces her critics claims of style over substance. But whatever.
One thing that does surprise me about the the Exile reissue is the lack of Girlysound demos that were included (there are three). In theory the reissue seems like the perfect vehicle to release the tracks on, as many of the original demos were re-worked during the Exile In Guyville sessions and subsequent future albums. Perhaps they are saving up for a future, all encompassing, release? Until then, if you need your Girlysound fix, there are always online trading circles and the Juvenilia EP. Released in 1995, on the tail of Phair’s second LP Whip Smart, it includes the track “Jealousy” which was the second single off Whip Smart as well as six tracks culled from the old Girlysound cassette demos. Juvenilia , like Exile, economically trades in lo-fi inspired nuggets of greatness that somehow both feel of their time (early ’90s) and perennial. No small feat.
Phair is presently touring behind the Exile In Guyville reissue, performing the old stuff. The good stuff.