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Liz Phair


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The more the f**ki*' PA censors Liz's songs, the more people will want to listen to them....**** ** PA!!! :) :) :)

Liz Phair (born Elizabeth Clark Phair on April 17, 1967 in New Haven, Connecticut, USA) is a Grammy-Nominated American singer-songwriter and guitarist. Her signature guitar, which she is often seen playing (and is prominent upon the cover of her self-titled fourth album), is a Fender Duo-Sonic. Her album Exile in Guyville was chosen as one of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Phair was born in Connecticut, but was raised in Winnetka, Illinois. Phair was adopted, as was her older brother Philip. She graduated from New Trier High School in 1985. She attended Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and majored in art history.

Phair's entry into the music industry began when she met guitarist Chris Brokaw, a member of the band Come. Brokaw was visiting her San Francisco loft-mate Nora Maccoby when he heard Phair's songs, and encouraged her to record them.

After moving back to Chicago, Phair began writing songs and recording homemade tapes under the name Girly Sound, and supported herself by selling her drawings on the streets of Chicago. She became part of the alternative music scene in Chicago and became friends with Material Issue and Urge Overkill, two of Chicago's upstart bands to go national in the early 1990s, as well as Brad Wood and John Henderson, head of Feel Good All Over, an independent label in Chicago. (A later attempt at re-recording the Girly Sound tapes failed after arguments between Henderson and Phair.)

After asking Wood who the "coolest" indie label was, Phair called up Gerard Cosloy, co-president of Matador Records, in 1992 and asked him if he would put out her record. Coincidentally, Cosloy had just read a review of Girly Sound in Chemical Imbalance that very day and told Phair to send him a tape. Phair sent him a tape of six Girly Sound songs. Cosloy recalls: "The songs were amazing. It was a fairly primitive recording, especially compared to the resulting album. The songs were really smart, really funny, and really harrowing, sometimes all at the same time." "I liked it a lot and played it for everybody else. We usually don't sign people we haven't met, or heard other records by, or seen as performers. But I had a hunch, and I called her back and said O.K."

Cosloy offered a $3,000 advance, and Phair began working on a single, which turned into the 18 songs of Exile in Guyville.

Exile in Guyville was produced by Phair and Brad Wood, and released in 1993. The album received uniformly excellent reviews. The album received significiant critical acclaim for its blunt, honest lyrics and for the music itself, a hybrid of indie rock and pop. The album established Phair's penchant for exploring sexually explicit lyrics such as in the song "Flower": "I want to be your blow job queen/...I'll fuck you and your minions too." By contrast, her trademark low, vibrato-less voice gave many of her songs a slightly detached, almost deadpan character. The combination of these factors won Phair many dedicated fans. She also had several detractors, especially in her hometown of Chicago; in particular, veteran producer Steve Albini was involved in a war of words reflected in Chicago's free newsweekly, the Chicago Reader. Albini wrote an angry response to an article, entitled "Not From the Underground: 1993 in Review", that discussed how Phair and several other artists had given an "explicit rejection of much of the insularity that increasingly characterizes underground music". Albini identified the aforementioned artists as "pandering sluts" and said Phair was the modern Rickie Lee Jones, "more talked about than heard, a persona completely unrooted in substance, and a fucking chore to listen to".

Hoping to capitalize on the acclaim for her debut album, the release of Phair's second album received substantial media attention and an advertising blitz. Whip-Smart debuted at #27 in 1994 and "Supernova", the first single, became a Top Ten modern rock hit, and the video was frequently featured on MTV. Phair also landed the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine with the headline "A Rock Star is Born." The album received mixed reviews, and although it was certified Gold (shipments of at least 500,000 units), it ultimately did not sell as well as expected - As it was hoped this album would introduce Liz Phair in the mainstream scene. Following Whip-Smart, Phair released Juvenilia, a collection of some early Girly Sound tracks and several B-sides, including her cover of the 80s classic by The Vapors, "Turning Japanese".

Phair's third album, titled whitechocolatespaceegg, was finally released in 1998 after some delays, which included a disagreement about content; at one point, the label rejected the album as submitted, and asked Phair to write a few additional radio-friendly songs for the set. [2] The album displayed a more mature Phair, and reflected some of the ways marriage and motherhood affected her. The single "Polyester Bride" received some airplay, but the album was only as successful as her previous records. To promote the record Phair joined the now legendary Lilith Fair. Phair performed on the main stage along with acts like Sarah McLachlan, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow and Missy Elliott.


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A Rock & Roll Romance.

By Dean Wareham.

Illustrated. 324 pp. The Penguin Press. $25.95.


Dean Wareham performing with Luna at the Village Underground in New York, 2001.

Rahav Segev

Freddie Mercury once said, "I want it all and I want it now." This

appetite might aptly be called the rock 'n' roll disease, and Dean

Wareham seems to have caught it. Or is in recovery. Or is somewhere

along the road. Part confessional, part unsentimental career diary,

Wareham's "Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance" reads like good

courtroom testimony: to the point, but peppered with juicy and

unsolicited asides. Dominick Dunne would make sure his seat was saved

before excusing himself to use the restroom.

Wareham is a respected cultural figure who cut a wide swath through

the '90s independent music scene both in America and in Europe,

fronting such beloved bands as Luna and Galaxie 500 (though, in the

case of Galaxie 500, this frontman status was deeply contested by his

bandmates, accelerating the group's eventual demise, which is captured

hilariously in an anecdote at the beginning of the book). He portrays

himself as a surprisingly unsympathetic character. He visits a

prostitute. He makes people angry. He follows girls home after the

show. He snorts coke. No apologies are made because this is, after

all, a rock 'n' roll autobiography. Late nights, a lot of drugs, a

little infidelity (well, maybe not just a little, but I won't give

away the ending) — that's par for the course, right? His honesty is

challenging and humbling. Yet, for an egghead (Wareham is a graduate

of both the Dalton School, the progressive and prestigious Upper East

Side preparatory academy, and Harvard) with an elective reading list

to rival Art Garfunkel's (Thomas Mann, Mark Twain, André Malraux,

Nietzsche, to name a few), he seems perfectly happy to partake in

whatever recreational opportunities come his way, with enviable

disregard for the consequences. Guilty? Not guilty? What are we as a

jury to think?

The facts, at least, are straightforward enough. Thanks to what must

have been meticulously kept tour diaries, a rich harvest of the who,

what, where and when of Wareham's past makes up the bulk of his story.

The heyday of alternative music was a heady time, and Wareham was at

the heart of it. After the big business of arena rock trampled through

pop culture in the 1980s, with its smoke pots and high ticket prices,

a fresh crop of homegrown bands espousing the D.I.Y. ethos, culled

from the underground punk scene, suddenly came into vogue. A

countercultural wave with roots in political and social activism swept

the nation, culminating in the enormous success of bands like Nirvana

and Pearl Jam. These self-proclaimed nerds conquered the world for a

time, making up in originality and earnestness what they lacked in

glitz and swagger. It is the arc of their ascendancy and, at the end

of the decade, inevitable decline that is documented so vividly in

Wareham's prose, from the point of view of an authentic creative force

within this world.

Born in New Zealand in 1963 into a middle-class family, the second of

four children, Wareham recalls a passion for music at a very young

age, when he formed definitive opinions about records before he was

even old enough to date:

"My father ... brought home Nina Simone's `Here Comes the Sun,'

wherein Nina covers George Harrison and Bob Dylan and the Bee Gees,

and delivers what I consider to be the greatest recorded version of

`My Way.' Joe Cocker's `Cocker Happy' was also a favorite, with his

stellar version of `With a Little Help From My Friends,' which he did

far better than the Beatles."

The author is nothing if not a connoisseur. But Wareham's real gift is

his ability to capture the minutiae of daily life in a rock 'n' roll

band and somehow make it universal. It's as if a curtain were brushed

aside and we all got to go backstage and experience the lives of those

who ran away to join the circus: we ride in buses, drive in vans,

count T-shirts, bicker with our bandmates, play shows, get courted and

booted by record labels, make albums, fall head over heels and,

throughout, rub elbows with countless influential artists of the day,

crisscrossing the globe in tour trajectories so overlapping and

incestuous it makes you want to call in a band traffic controller just

to keep all the names straight.

Filled with humor, Wareham's memoir is fast-paced and memorable,

peopled with characters you could find only in the music industry.

There is Kramer, the irreverent producer/sound man/bass player who

pals around with Dean and the band during a few Galaxie 500 tours. An

avid stoner who records brilliant records at warp speed, Kramer is

prone to jumping onstage during a set whether or not he is invited.

His playful pranking endears him to Wareham, but falls flat with the

rest of the band. The friendship between the two men echoes that of

Jake Barnes and Bill Gorton in "The Sun Also Rises," with Kramer as

the oft-quipping Bill, and Dean, the taciturn Jake.

But not all the subplots in "Black Postcards" are so happy-go-lucky.

One particularly unforgettable story involves the

rags-to-riches-to-rags-again tale of a high-flying A & R executive at

Elektra named Terry Tolkin, whose musical discernment never translated

into the other areas of his life. Riding around in limousines, showing

up late to work, throwing outrageous parties for artists and charging

it all to the label, the surprisingly likable Terry finds himself on

shaky ground as a corporate realignment threatens to squeeze him out

of a job: "If he had signed just one platinum act, all would have been

forgiven. Instead he gave them Luna, Stereolab and the Afghan Whigs."

Things go from bad to worse, until "Terry had lost his wife, which he

pretended not to care about. Now he had lost his job. ... Six months

later he was working at a gas station in New Jersey, changing oil and

brake liners by day, snorting heroin by night."

One of the things "Black Postcards" does so well is shatter the

illusion that rock 'n' roll is all fun and games. Things pile up. The

weight of the accumulated past begins to take its toll. Wareham fights

to stay engaged in his creative efforts, sometimes at the expense of

the stability of both his family and his band. Sick of rumors, sick of

disgruntled fans, bad hotels, bad gigs, he may be writing down his

remembrances partly to set the record straight. But his supreme

interest is clearly and purely music. It is the scaffold on which he

hangs most of the feelings and fragments included in the book. Even

his writing style has a rhythm to it: passages move rapidly back and

forth between incident and impression, creating a kind of (I'm not

kidding) rock 'n' roll. If the writing suffers from a tone of

detachment throughout, the author is well aware of it. In fact, the

long journey to inhabit the present is the book's crowning sentiment.

Comparing himself with his young son, Wareham tells his therapist

about his struggle to be in the here and now:

"`Jack has this incredible ability to enjoy the moment,' I told

Bernie. `He's always smiling and laughing and having a good time,

while I'm sad about the past and worried about the future. ...'

"`You're pissing on the present.'


"`If you have one foot in the past and one in the future, then you're

pissing on the present.'"

The day of reckoning comes when Wareham is forced to face a crossroads

of his own making. Having just left his wife, he sees his son out with

the nanny on the street but cannot approach him because he cannot find

the words to explain why he will no longer be living at home:

"I gathered myself and walked down Crosby Street, through SoHo, across

Canal Street and back to my studio, where I rolled on the floor and

sobbed again. Strange sounds came out of my throat, from deep down

inside — guttural, primal noises that I didn't know were in me. But

they were there."

Liz Phair's albums include "Exile in Guyville," "Liz Phair" and, most

recently, "Somebody's Miracle."

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From Billboard.com:

Liz Phair Reclaims Her 'Independence'


Liz Phair

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.

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