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

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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.

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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!

Have we met? or Mumford & Sons – Wilder Mind

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For some music artist’s success is the beginning of that quest for more success and growth is the drive towards a more popular sound. History has given us so many examples and it’s hard to even pick the most relevant story. The end result though is a popular record that you hear playing while a hygienist has weird metal instruments in your mouth at the dentist’s office.

Like Phil Collins era Genesis, or for a more modern example Coldplay, Mumford & Sons has become a band that plays it safe. They drive at the speed limit, obey all the road signs and are the perfect band to play when your mom is in the car with you.

Of course, that doesn’t make this a bad album, songs such as “Believe” and “Cold Arms” are reminiscent of Don Henley’s “The End Of The Innocence” and The Eagles “I Can’t Tell You Why,” while “The Wolf” and “Broad-Shouldered Beasts” lean towards Joshua Tree style U2. However such familiarity with something that is released today makes me wonder about artistry and originality. Wilder Mind is original in that it was created by a group of people writing songs that did not previously exist. From there they spent time in a studio putting together the best possible mix for the songs to take on a life of their own. These guys worked their tails off to put out music the masses would enjoy and for that I greatly admire their dedication towards the craft.

Wilder Mind could become a monster of an album. It has all the ingredients of a blockbuster record. However, like the Hollywood re-boot phenomenon of recent years, it seems like I’ve seen this all before, it’s just a different cast.

You can pick up Wilder Mind everywhere they sell music…