The Best Album of 1993 or Liz Phair – Exile In Guyville

lp1

Some records are great sounding and personal. Some records are great sounding and important. Then there was Exile In Guyville which was all that and so much more. 1993 was an awesome year for music seeing releases by Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Breeders, U2, Belly, Porno For Pyros, Sloan, The Cranberries, Blur, Counting Crows, PJ Harvey and so many more. All those records and yet Spin and the influential Village Voice both picked Guyville as the number one record of the year.

It wasn’t just that Phair was writing about sex as bluntly or as graphically as any ‘guy’ had before her. It wasn’t just that a so-called feminist view hadn’t been placed in music to the extent that she now had. It was that Exile In Guyville had seventeen kick-ass songs that talked about the female experience without having to make proclamations. This wasn’t Helen Reddy singing “I Am Woman” or Courtney Love warning you that “someday you will ache like I ache.” Instead Phair’s vocals are so matter of fact you feel that anger and sarcasm would be out of place. These are the stories of women in love, lust, distress and having sex told in a style where shock seems both out of place yet warranted.

lp2

Spin recently ranked the Top 300 albums since 1985 and Exile In Guyville ranked #7. The only albums to rank Higher were:

Radiohead – OK Computer

The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead

Daft Punk – Discovery

Prince – Sign O’ The Times

Wu Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang

Nirvana – Nevermind

Quite the company eh!

So when I talk about wanting to have not only albums I love, but also essential albums in my vinyl collection – Guyville fits both bills.

Strangely, Exile In Guyville has only two vinyl options. The original 1993 Matador release came with two basic black vinyl discs and an insert detailing the album info. You can find used copies on the internet for about $50.00.

In 2008, ATO Records released a 15th anniversary edition that was re-mastered and placed on two 180 gram vinyl pieces. With them also came a bonus 7” of unreleased B-sides and a copy of the re-mastered CD. Oddly, the reseller markets are asking over $60.00 for the 2008 reissue. It is still available at local record stores and online retailers for much less.

If you haven’t heard it – listen here. Then BUY IT!

The Emotional Depth of Flanging and Reverb or Ride –OX4

ride

There was a time before the 90’s wave of Grunge and Brit-Pop when a generation of music geeks had their collective consciousness turned towards the sounds of a UK movement dubbed “shoegaze.” Known for “wall of sound” like buzz and a variety of guitar effects it was the best possible escape for people tired of pop and hair metal but still loved loud electric guitar as the driver behind the tunes.

Ride was one of the best of the era with their own brand of songs crossed between My Bloody Valentine, The Smiths and even American avant-garde noise rockers Sonic Youth. At the beginning what attracted people to the band was the menagerie of influence pooled together under a banner of rock attitude and loud experimentation.

Unlike classic rock bands that would build a song around a guitar riff using it for the more climatic moments, Ride would use a riff like a wave over the song and change its very dynamic. If you listen to “Like A Daydream” even when the songs driving force is held back during the lyrical sequence, the guitar riff is still present as the basis for the rhythm. What changes is the tone and power with which it is played. The song itself gains more emotional resonance by the riff coasting for the duration rather than any one specific moment. At their best, this is exactly how Ride operated, a lyric of longing surrounded by shimmering guitar lines that buzz meaning with flanging and reverb.

Unfortunately, their existence was a brief eight years and it ended with internal disagreements and some half hearted attempt to go in a more ‘commercial’ direction. Some critics have claimed they fell flat looking for a more Brit-Pop sound, but honestly, after reading some of their more recent interviews, it sounds more like they just lost the motivation to be a band.

Still Record Store Day 2015 was a reminder of what brilliant music they did put out back in the day, with the vinyl re-issue of OX4: The Best Of. Three editions were released on April 18th in three major markets. The UK and Europe saw 500 copies each printed in red translucent vinyl while the North American market printed an additional 5000 copies of the same. As of last week when I was visiting record stores in Toronto I still saw copies around at the regular RSD prices.

ride2

On a cooler note, Ride have worked out all their differences, are back together and currently touring. They’ll be hitting the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto on June 2nd and are being presented by 102.1 The Edge/Spirit Of Radio.