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Exile In Guyville (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

If Exile in Guyville is shockingly assured and fully formed for a debut album, there are a number of reasons why. Most prominent of these is that many of the songs were initially essayed on Liz Phair's homemade cassette Girlysound, which means that the songs are essentially the cream of the crop from an exceptionally talented songwriter. Second, there's its structure, infamously patterned after the Stones' Exile on Main St., but not the song-by-song response Phair promoted it as. (Just try to match the albums up: is the "blow-job queen" fantasy of "Flower" really the answer to the painful elegy "Let It Loose"?) Then, most notably, there's Phair and producer Brad Wood's deft studio skills, bringing a variety of textures and moods to a basic, lo-fi production. There is as much hard rock as there are eerie solo piano pieces, and there's everything in between from unadulterated power pop, winking art rock, folk songs, and classic indie rock. Then, there are Phair's songs themselves. At the time, her gleefully profane, clever lyrics received endless attention (there's nothing that rock critics love more than a girl who plays into their geek fantasies, even — or maybe especially — if she's mocking them), but years later, what still astounds is the depth of the writing, how her music matches her clear-eyed, vivid words, whether it's on the self-loathing "F**k and Run," the evocative mood piece "Stratford-on-Guy," or the swaggering breakup anthem "6'1"," or how she nails the dissolution of a long-term relationship on "The Divorce Song." Each of these 18 songs maintains this high level of quality, showcasing a singer/songwriter of immense imagination, musically and lyrically. If she never equaled this record, well, few could. [Exile in Guyville was also released in a "clean" edition, containing no profanities or vulgarities.]

Customer Reviews

A classic

It's a travesty that there is only one review for Exile on iTunes. This is the album of my adolescence and early adulthood. Liz Phair is one of the best lyricists I've ever heard in my life, her songwriting is catchy and off-kilter, and her voice is totally distinct. This album is note-perfect from start to finish and it has withstood the test of time. There are quite a few artists and bands I adored at 14 that I no longer listen to at 31. That is not the case with Liz Phair. I've definitely grown up with her and continue to find comfort and joy in her work. If you're familiar with Liz because of her hit, "Why Can't I," check out Exile and prepare to have your mind blown by its raw honesty, vulnerability, sense of humor and bravado.

Shelf life

This album stands the test of time. Her stuff that followed was ok, but this, this album was really close to perfect.

pure talent.

this album is the result of an actual artist wanting to share her work with the world. no catchy rhymes or kicks. it's a must have in any collection. one of my favs for sure!


Born: April 17, 1967 in New Haven, CT

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Growing out of the American underground of the late '80s, Liz Phair fused lo-fi indie rock production techniques with the sensibility and structure of classic singer/songwriters. Exile in Guyville, her gold-selling debut album, was enthusiastically praised upon its 1993 release, and spawned a rash of imitators during the following years, particularly American female singer/songwriters. For her part, Phair wasn't able to fully break into the mainstream, even with the support of the press and MTV....
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