TS: Juvenilia VERSUS Whip-Smart VERSUS whitechocolatespaceegg (Or, Liz Phair, minus the baggage)

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Liz Phair is one of those artists whose albums, I think, get sort of overshadowed by her own narrative. All three of the records listed in the thread title were, in contemporary reviews, continuously and tediously compared with Exile. And since Phair's comeback/sell-out/whatever, they've been more or less ignored or blandly grouped together to serve larger "Old Liz versus New Liz" dichotomies.

So for the purposes of this thread, let's not talk about Exile or Liz Phair at all, except for specific points of references (e.g. song x clearly was a forerunner to song y or what have you). This is the thread about these records on their own terms. Are they successful? Do they click? Do they rock? Are they not men?

Inspired by listening to these a lot lately, in particular listening to WCSE straight through a couple times tonight. The songs with less elaborate arrangements have a tendency to be sort of open-mic-ey, but there's some great shit in here! Stuff that considerably expands her territory, too - the sympathetic, complex character sketch of "Uncle Alvarez," the organ groove of "Headache." I'm starting to like it more than Whip-Smart. "Polyester Bride" aside, WCSE doesn't feel like it's grasping for a single, while Whip-Smart feels like it's a little bit uncertain of itself except on "Jealousy," "Supernova," and the title track, which are almost too clearly cut. Not to say I don't love Phair's pop-rock maneuvers, just that they do have a tendency to jump out of the mix on an album. WCSE contents itself with medium-size rockers like "Johnny Feelgood" and "Ride."

Whip-Smart, in its defense, has some of my favorite Liz Phair tracks - "X-Ray Man," "Go West," and "Cinco De Mayo" have incredible hooks, and the aforementioned singles are all excellent, although "Supernova" wears thin after a while. I don't think it's as coherent an album, but maybe the highs are higher?

As for Juvenilia, surely it merits classic status solely for "California." After me, everybody... "And the old bull goes, 'Let's walk down that hill..'"

Doctor Casino (Doctor Casino), Saturday, 12 August 2006 03:36 (fifteen years ago) link

goddamn it, I thought this was about the verlaines. I have nothing to say about liz phair.

askance johnson (sdownes), Saturday, 12 August 2006 04:00 (fifteen years ago) link

Attention mods, can someone change the thread title to "TS: Juvenilia VERSUS Whip-Smart VERSUS whitechocolatespaceegg (Or, Liz Phair, minus the baggage) - A Liz Phair Thread, By Liz Phair Fans, For Liz Phair Fans" ok thx

Doctor Casino (Doctor Casino), Saturday, 12 August 2006 04:54 (fifteen years ago) link

WCSE by a nautical mile.

joseph cotten (joseph cotten), Saturday, 12 August 2006 05:13 (fifteen years ago) link

I like all three. Juvenilia isn't really in the running since the four amazing demo tracks are all from the two Girlysound tapes (leaving "Animal Girl" and the Vapors cover). Whipsmart has "Alice Springs" on it, however, and therefore wins.

sleeve (sleeve), Saturday, 12 August 2006 17:58 (fifteen years ago) link

I'm not a Liz Phair fan, particularly, but I really liked WCSE. I could take or leave the others under discussion here.

Myke. (Myke Weiskopf), Saturday, 12 August 2006 18:53 (fifteen years ago) link

Is there an easy way to score the Girlysound tapes at this point? I've always been curious, especially when you have things like AMG claiming that the version of "Whip-Smart" on the album pales in comparison to the Girlysound version...

Doctor Casino (Doctor Casino), Saturday, 12 August 2006 20:34 (fifteen years ago) link

email me, DC.

sleeve (sleeve), Saturday, 12 August 2006 22:00 (fifteen years ago) link

WCSE, for the aforementioned Uncle Alvarez, and for What Makes You Happy, which offers the best kind of colloquial poetry all through the verses and might be all-time lyrically if not for a few false notes in the chorus ("listen here young lady").

Was Johnny Feelgood a single? No complaints here - keenly observed, and it rolls.

rogermexico (rogermexico), Saturday, 12 August 2006 22:09 (fifteen years ago) link

I'm not sure if Johnny Feelgood was a single - however, I did once hear it in the background on VH1 when they were doing a spot on Johnny Depp. So it's made its impact in the culture...I guess?

Sleeve - will do, thx!

Doctor Casino (Doctor Casino), Saturday, 12 August 2006 23:59 (fifteen years ago) link

the line "I swear this one is gonna last and all those other bastards were only practice" = CLASSIC.

I still pick Whipsmart but it's nice to see WCSE getting the love.

sleeve (sleeve), Sunday, 13 August 2006 01:24 (fifteen years ago) link

WCSE is her best album: it's got all the whipsmarts of her early records plus better singing and playing.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Sunday, 13 August 2006 01:27 (fifteen years ago) link

the line "I swear this one is gonna last and all those other bastards were only practice" = CLASSIC

I almost said exactly the same thing. Ditto "he's got an ex-wife in pasadena and she can be a bitch to deal with, but lately we've been living here uninjured," but it's "all the other bastards" that slays, a puff of beautiful delusion that carries with it thw weight of the whole sad past and rolls out the whole sad future.

I really wish the chorus lived up to the verses.

rogermexico (rogermexico), Sunday, 13 August 2006 06:01 (fifteen years ago) link

sleeve, does this mean I can email you too?

rogermexico (rogermexico), Sunday, 13 August 2006 06:01 (fifteen years ago) link

yes, and

I really wish the chorus lived up to the verses.

seconded, unfortunately.

sleeve (sleeve), Sunday, 13 August 2006 06:05 (fifteen years ago) link

uncle alvarez is probably my favourite liz phair song these days

electric sound of jim [and why not] (electricsound), Sunday, 13 August 2006 09:36 (fifteen years ago) link

"Uncle Alvarez" is the song that turned me on to WCSE. I heard it in some bookstore and couldn't believe my ears when they said it was her.

My favorite moment is when she flubs the lyrics to "Headache" in the last verse. Songwise, I love so many of them, but "Girls Room" is probably my dark-horse favorite.

Myke. (Myke Weiskopf), Sunday, 13 August 2006 12:22 (fifteen years ago) link

"Love is Nothing," bitches!

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Sunday, 13 August 2006 12:28 (fifteen years ago) link

Cough, well, now that ILM is back (hooray!), I'd like to thank sleeve again for the hookup - I'll be delving through that stuff for a while! Also, I know I sort of started this thread out by dissing on Whip-Smart for the sake of praising whitechocolatespaceegg, but I gave the former a thorough listen yesterday afternoon and it probably deserves more credit than I gave it. The only flat-out dud is "Crater Lake" (although "Chopsticks" doesn't ever really register on my ears either), and there are several really excellent songs in here. I already gave shout-outs to several of them, but "Nashville" is probably the best of the sleepers, a classic shimmering slice of Phair. "Dogs of LA" is also considerably hookier than I remember, since I discovered it stuck in my head all through my bike-ride today.

Doctor Casino (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 15 August 2006 22:19 (fifteen years ago) link

WCSE is one of those records I’ve come to enjoy more and more as I get older and can better relate to some of the sentiments expressed; however, it was ruined for me at the time by constant, obsessive listening to the WCSE demos prior to the album’s proper release (said demos constitute my favorite Liz album EVER and include “Rocket Boy,” “The White Bird of Texas” and other songs that didn’t make the final cut but wound up on random movie soundtracks).

Raymond Cummings (Raymond Cummings), Wednesday, 16 August 2006 11:12 (fifteen years ago) link

See this link for a rundown of what I’m talking about above:

http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Club/2471/wcsedemos.html

Scott Litt hadn’t gotten his sanitizer-stained hands on the songs yet (a lot of what would wind up on WCSE doesn’t appear here at all and was written by Litt, Phair, and others later), most of ‘em were scratched out on guitar. I have a cassette copy of this but have been looking – not as hard as I probably should be – for a CD burn of it for years and years and years.

Raymond Cummings (Raymond Cummings), Wednesday, 16 August 2006 11:45 (fifteen years ago) link

I have a 2-CD set of this (more than what's listed on your link, with some repeats). You're right that's mostly better, "Russian Girl" is one of my faves. Ken Lee from a Liz mailing list got a hold of it a few years ago and made copies for people.

nickn (nickn), Wednesday, 16 August 2006 20:11 (fifteen years ago) link

i'm ill-equipped to answer the original question, becuase somehow i never got into whip-smart or whitechocolatespaceegg. i love the girly sound tapes, though.

does anyone know where i might find the wcse demos?! i remember them being seeded on dime a whil back, but not now, and a day of slsk searching hasn't found them...

toby (tsg20), Thursday, 17 August 2006 18:39 (fifteen years ago) link

omg - i just googled around a little more failing to find mp3s, and found this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girlysound

has anyone heard these extra girlysound tapes? they don't seem to be around online any more :-(

toby (tsg20), Thursday, 17 August 2006 18:48 (fifteen years ago) link

whoah. never heard those, definitely a few songs that aren't anywhere else.

sleeve version 2.0 (sleeve testing), Thursday, 17 August 2006 23:37 (fifteen years ago) link

i got all exicted for a second because i thought you were talking about the verlaines

corey c (shock of daylight), Friday, 18 August 2006 07:34 (fifteen years ago) link

OK, I give up, who are the Verlaines and why did they apparently record under the name "Liz Phair"?

Doctor Casino (Doctor Casino), Friday, 18 August 2006 19:08 (fifteen years ago) link

White Chocolate for me as well. Love Juvenilia as well. Guess Whip Smart is the only one I really have no love for. Haven't heard the last one however. Her aspirations and limitations seem really in synch on WCSE.

dan. (dan.), Saturday, 19 August 2006 21:58 (fifteen years ago) link

two years pass...

how someone can have no love for Whip Smart is completely beyond me. it's almost epic, but way too concise. the mood is something else. the melodic narrative, pinned up against the overwhelming pop sensibility of some songs, is incredibly stirring.

Surmounter, Wednesday, 24 September 2008 16:46 (thirteen years ago) link

five months pass...

i won't decorate my love

Surmounter, Sunday, 22 March 2009 01:58 (thirteen years ago) link

ten months pass...

^^^ opened up this thread to revive it after listening to that very song and going "god, this album is always so much better than i remember it."

Doctor Casino, Monday, 1 February 2010 02:23 (twelve years ago) link

I should give WCSE another spin. I have had zero desire to listen to it for the past ten years or so, even tho I really liked it at the time of its release. Were there any songs w/ trip hop beats? Everyone was shoehorning in trip hop beats back then.

WS is patchy, but the highs make it the easy pick for me. I think "Nashville" might be my favorite overall Liz tune.

they ate only candy canes (Pillbox), Monday, 1 February 2010 06:20 (twelve years ago) link

lol I didn't realize you guys were referring to ^ that very song until I dusted it off & listened to it (it's been a while). It holds up fantastically. That bridge/build into the chorus - so gorgeous!

they ate only candy canes (Pillbox), Monday, 1 February 2010 06:31 (twelve years ago) link

i won't decorate my love

― Surmounter, Saturday, March 21, 2009 6:58 PM (10 months ago)

┌∩┐(◕_◕)┌∩┐ (Steve Shasta), Monday, 1 February 2010 06:42 (twelve years ago) link

from the nashville youtube comments:

catcoy (5 months ago) Show Hide
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Marked as spam
Reply | Spam
im a lesbian.and i love enya

┌∩┐(◕_◕)┌∩┐ (Steve Shasta), Monday, 1 February 2010 06:52 (twelve years ago) link

That bridge/build into the chorus - really, tho, the "chorus" is one steady, layered build & then, yeah, that refrain.

they ate only candy canes (Pillbox), Monday, 1 February 2010 07:08 (twelve years ago) link

& you know what, WS isn't nearly as inconsistent as I'd convinced myself it was. where did the sophomore slump myth come from, again?

they ate only candy canes (Pillbox), Monday, 1 February 2010 07:17 (twelve years ago) link

yeah that record is great.

here's a buncha really cool unreleased tunes plus my fave WCSE demos

1. Desperado Theme
2. Oh My God
3. If I Ever Pay You Back
4. Tell Me You Like Me
5. Firewalker
6. Hurricane Cindy
7. Don't Apologize
8. Beginning To See The Light
9. I'm Like That
10. I'll Get You High
11. Conversation Overheard Between Two Bouncers
12. Wasted
13. You Have No Idea
14. Russian Girl
15. I'm A Believer
16. Waiting For The Bird
17. Freak Of Nature

1, 4, 9, 14, 16, 17 - from White Chocolate Space Egg solo demos boot CDR
2 - Squirt TV, 1.96
3, 8 - Minneapolis 4.22.95
5, 7 - Wellesley 4.30.99
6 - unknown demo
10, 13 - NYC 4.25.95
11 - live, source unknown
12 - KCRW, 12.8.94
15 - live, source unknown

http://www.mediafire.com/?ymgmizzyjy2

sleeve, Monday, 1 February 2010 08:30 (twelve years ago) link

lol squirt tv.
i always liked whipsmart as much as exile

mizzell, Monday, 1 February 2010 16:08 (twelve years ago) link

Whip-Smart lovers should also search out an outtake called "Don't Have Time", it appeared on some dumb 90's comp or soundtrack but should have been on the record.

sleeve, Monday, 1 February 2010 16:26 (twelve years ago) link

sleeve, once again you are the hero of this thread. DLing now, will check out at home tonight. Thanks a bunch.

Doctor Casino, Monday, 1 February 2010 23:14 (twelve years ago) link

eleven months pass...

Man, how is "Jealousy" not on the short list of absolute must-know Liz Phair songs alongside "Fuck and Run" and "Divorce Song" and so on? It's SO SO SO SO GOOD.

Doctor Casino, Friday, 28 January 2011 03:39 (eleven years ago) link

seven years pass...

god whip-smart is so slept on. there's a few duds but the best songs compete just fine with exile, if they'd appeared on that one everyone would know them and love them. may queen, cinco de mayo, whip-smart, jealousy... fuck yeah.

where have i been? got any what?

Doctor Casϵϵno (Doctor Casino), Thursday, 23 August 2018 02:15 (three years ago) link

nashville, x-ray man, go west!

Doctor Casϵϵno (Doctor Casino), Thursday, 23 August 2018 02:18 (three years ago) link

“Jealousy” may honestly be her #1 song

stan in the place where you work (morrisp), Thursday, 23 August 2018 02:31 (three years ago) link

^^CoSign

Ubering With The King (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 23 August 2018 02:34 (three years ago) link

it's definitely like top three for me, hard for anything to displace "divorce song" at #1 but man it's terrific

Doctor Casϵϵno (Doctor Casino), Thursday, 23 August 2018 02:41 (three years ago) link

I saw hips, I saw thighs
I saw secret positions that we never try

Ubering With The King (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 23 August 2018 02:48 (three years ago) link

I can't believe you had a life before me
I can't believe they let you run around free
Just putting your body wherever it seemed like a good idea
What a good idea

Ubering With The King (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 23 August 2018 03:20 (three years ago) link

totally agree on Whip-Smart, such a jam start to finish

WCSE is a straight dud imo

a roomba of one's own (rip van wanko), Thursday, 23 August 2018 03:36 (three years ago) link

you guys have mentioned 7 WS tracks in this revive and not one of them was Shane!!

a roomba of one's own (rip van wanko), Thursday, 23 August 2018 03:38 (three years ago) link

You guys know that song “Stuck on an Island”? It’s like an entire John Hughes movie* in a perfectly economical song... One of her best.

(*intentional Chicagoland reference)

stan in the place where you work (morrisp), Thursday, 23 August 2018 03:54 (three years ago) link

Exile's peaks are higher, but I enjoy WS more as a start-to-finish (except for Supernova I guess)

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Thursday, 23 August 2018 04:05 (three years ago) link

Shane > Nashville is what I always return to on whip smart. Love how those two run together. Had it on vinyl back in the day and the warble on my shit record player just made those two in particular just perfect

calstars, Thursday, 23 August 2018 11:15 (three years ago) link

xp Article on point re: Whitechocolatespaceegg’s quality. I loved it at the time, and still do.

stan in the place where you work (morrisp), Thursday, 23 August 2018 13:12 (three years ago) link

"Crater Lake" is my jam.

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 23 August 2018 13:13 (three years ago) link

And of course I was one of those dudes in summer '98 who took Whitechocolatespaceegg as a betrayal; I wrote a college newspaper review that thankfully is gone from the minds of man.

By late September, though, I thought it a fucking jam.

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 23 August 2018 13:16 (three years ago) link

she was so great on that tour, all traces of on-stage jitters had vanished

sleeve, Thursday, 23 August 2018 14:03 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

see her live if she comes through your town, she puts on a really good show!

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Friday, 5 October 2018 02:40 (three years ago) link

I feel like every girl should be given Exile in Guyville in 8th grade health class.

Yerac, Friday, 5 October 2018 02:49 (three years ago) link

after I saw her play last week I wanted to get the Girly-Sound to Guyville reissue but it's already out of print!

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Friday, 5 October 2018 02:51 (three years ago) link

Really?!

I like queer. You like queer, senator? (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 5 October 2018 03:00 (three years ago) link

Yep, Matador web store and Amazon are out of stock, only one copy for sale on Discogs... the CD version, I mean. You can still get the vinyl edition but it's like $100. I think that's the new normal for CD reissues though. People don't buy CDs anymore, I guess.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Friday, 5 October 2018 03:06 (three years ago) link

Did anyone love girly sounds? Maybe if I had heard it before Exile, I would get it. But otherwise it's a chore to listen to.

Yerac, Friday, 5 October 2018 03:11 (three years ago) link

also this made me LOL from your excellent blog post:

(copies of Monster and Whip-Smart glutted the market like cheap petrol in the Kennedy era)

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Friday, 5 October 2018 03:11 (three years ago) link

I say that loving super lo-fi plink plink.

Yerac, Friday, 5 October 2018 03:11 (three years ago) link

Ugh, shit, it's so hard sometimes seeing when something is a link. I am reading it now.

Yerac, Friday, 5 October 2018 03:12 (three years ago) link

xpost by the time file-sharing had matured to the point where I could get my hands on the Girlysound tapes I had moved on! she played California from it the other night, which was quite nice.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Friday, 5 October 2018 03:13 (three years ago) link

wait, not California... Go West

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Friday, 5 October 2018 03:19 (three years ago) link

Generally, I like your slant/prose (alfred) but I had some issues with this maybe because she is dear to my coming of age years. But unless you publicly welcome it, I don't want to specifically critique because in whole I like the overall spirit.

Yerac, Friday, 5 October 2018 04:18 (three years ago) link

ugh, i've been drinking. don't mind me.

Yerac, Friday, 5 October 2018 04:23 (three years ago) link

two weeks pass...

From the Whitechocolatespaceegg track listing on Wikipedia:

Advance Promo Copy
17. "Freak of Nature" – 2:03
18. "Hurricane Cindy" – 2:48

Outtakes
There exist several circulating outtakes from the album. Most of them have never been commercially released, however, several bootlegs include these songs, which are listed below:

"Oh My God"
"Desperado Theme"
"Hurricane Cindy"
"Rocket Boy"
"Russian Girl"
"Stuck on an Island"
"Tell Me You Like Me"
"I'm Like That"
"White Bird of Texas"
"Freak of Nature"
"Bars of the Bed"
"Blood Keeper"
"Greased Lightning"

I wasn't aware of all these outtakes... "Stuck on an Island" is one of my favorite songs of hers. Has anyone heard any of these others?

a neon light ablaze in this green smoky haze (morrisp), Wednesday, 24 October 2018 19:24 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

Don't miss OL's poll: A human super-POLL-va, a POLL-ar Superman: Liz Phair - Whip-Smart

|Restore| |Restart| |Quit| (Doctor Casino), Friday, 30 November 2018 16:09 (three years ago) link

xp to morris I think the link I posted upthread still works

sleeve, Friday, 30 November 2018 16:23 (three years ago) link

Oh cool, thanks sleeve

very legal & very cool (morrisp), Friday, 30 November 2018 16:25 (three years ago) link

yr welcome

also I am extremely annoyed that I have never heard/heard of "Bars of the Bed" or "Blood Keeper"

sleeve, Friday, 30 November 2018 16:29 (three years ago) link

Hey sleeve -- your link says the following. Any way to restore access??

Something appears to be missing…
The key you provided for file access was invalid. This is usually caused because the file is no longer stored on MediaFire. This occurs when the file is removed by the originating user or MediaFire. Still have questions, or think we've made a mistake? Please contact support for further assistance.

very legal & very cool (morrisp), Friday, 30 November 2018 17:59 (three years ago) link

hmm send me an ILX-mail (include your email, it doesn't send that) and I'll get you sorted, I'll look into the link later but they might have made me take it down

sleeve, Friday, 30 November 2018 18:00 (three years ago) link

Will do, much appreciated!

very legal & very cool (morrisp), Friday, 30 November 2018 18:00 (three years ago) link

Listening to the Girlysound demos; I forget that early versions of "Polyester Bride" and "(Shitloads of) Money" are on there.

I wonder if the Henry in "Bride" is the same Henry from "Stuck on an Island" ("...doing coke with Henry")... must be, right?

underqualified backing vocalist (morrisp), Friday, 30 November 2018 23:57 (three years ago) link

also I am extremely annoyed that I have never heard/heard of "Bars of the Bed" or "Blood Keeper"

Hey sleeve, check this out -- both tracks seem to be on this upload which YT helpfully tossed up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEq0rFFHvd8

underqualified backing vocalist (morrisp), Friday, 30 November 2018 23:59 (three years ago) link

Sick lead gtr on "Russian Girl," starting around 45:30 in the above clip... wonder who played it(?)

underqualified backing vocalist (morrisp), Tuesday, 11 December 2018 01:24 (three years ago) link

Sounds a little like Jack White

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Tuesday, 11 December 2018 01:48 (three years ago) link

three years pass...

Oh, rocket boi- where are you gonna land?

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 14 May 2022 18:17 (one week ago) link

Whip-Smart was my first Liz record, and for that it’ll always rank a little higher than the other studio albums.

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 14 May 2022 18:22 (one week ago) link


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