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Liz Phair - Whitechocolatespaceegg

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Whitechocolatespaceegg

Liz Phair

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Following the halfhearted reception to Whip-Smart -- good enough to retain her critical stature, not good enough to enhance it -- Liz Phair slowly retreated from view, marrying and having a child. Toward the end of 1996, she began to work on her third album, but it took her nearly a year and a half to compete it, due to a variety of reasons. When whitechocolatespaceegg (a reference to her baby boy's shiny bald head) finally appeared in late summer 1998, it had been a full five years since Exile in Guyville, and nowhere was that more apparent than in Phair's third album itself. Certain familiar elements remained -- her plain vocals, strummed guitars, and character songs -- but this was a brighter, cleaner, more content Phair. There was none of the emotional turmoil that underpinned Exile and, to a lesser extent, Whip-Smart. Even if the songs concerned violent emotions, there is a studied distance between her and the songs here, whether it's the character study "Uncle Alvarez" or "Johnny Feelgood," where the female narrator is beaten up and likes it. In other words, whitechocolatespaceegg is the work of a craftsman, not an inspired work of brilliance like Exile. And while that may alienate some hardcore fans, that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially since the best moments -- "Big Tall Man," "Baby Got Going," "Go On Ahead," "What Makes You Happy," "Johnny Feelgood," and the Girlysound leftover "Shitloads of Money" -- are tuneful and literate. Still, there's a distance, not only in the lyrics but in the overly polished music, that makes whitechocolatespaceegg difficult to embrace unconditionally, even if it may be a stronger record than Whip-Smart.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Whitechocolatespaceegg

Liz Phair

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1
White Chocolate Space Egg
00:04:35

Liz Phair, Composer, Producer, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Stoley, Composer - TOM LORD-ALGE, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Ed Tinley, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Chasko, Composer, Producer, Drums, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Randy Wilson, Keyboards, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

2
Big Tall Man
00:03:48

Liz Phair, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - TOM LORD-ALGE, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Chasko, Composer, Producer, Drums, Guitar, Piano, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Blaise Barton, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

3
Perfect World
00:02:15

Liz Phair, Composer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - SCOTT LITT, Producer, Keyboards, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Victor Janacua, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Nathan December, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

4
Johnny Feelgood
00:03:22

Brad Wood, Producer, Drums, Engineer, Guitar, Organ, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, Bass (Vocal) - Liz Phair, Composer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - TOM LORD-ALGE, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Ed Tinley, Engineer, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - John Hiler, Engineer, Keyboards, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Chasko, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

5
Polyester Bride
00:04:05

Brad Wood, Producer, Drums, Engineer, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, Bass (Vocal) - Liz Phair, Composer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - TOM LORD-ALGE, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Ed Tinley, Engineer, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - John Hiler, Engineer, Organ, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Chasko, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

6
Love Is Nothing
00:02:16

Liz Phair, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - TOM LORD-ALGE, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Ed Tinley, Engineer, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Scott Bennett, Drums, Organ, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal)

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

7
Baby Got Going
00:02:02

Liz Phair, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - SCOTT LITT, Composer, Producer, Drums, Guitar, Harmonica, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - TOM LORD-ALGE, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Nathan December, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

8
Uncle Alvarez
00:03:52

Brad Wood, Producer, Drums, Engineer, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Liz Phair, Composer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - TOM LORD-ALGE, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Leroy Bach, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ed Tinley, Engineer, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - John Hiler, Engineer, Keyboards, Piano, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

9
Only Son
00:05:09

Liz Phair, Composer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - SCOTT LITT, Producer - TOM LORD-ALGE, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Sabold, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Chasko, Drums, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Tommy Furar, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal)

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

10
Go On Ahead
00:02:53

Brad Wood, Producer, Mixer, Engineer, Organ, Drum Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Liz Phair, Composer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Ed Tinley, Engineer, StudioPersonnel

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

11
Headache
00:02:53

Liz Phair, Composer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - SCOTT LITT, Producer, Keyboards, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - TOM LORD-ALGE, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Chasko, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Nathan December, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

12
Ride
00:03:03

Liz Phair, Composer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - SCOTT LITT, Producer, Keyboards, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - TOM LORD-ALGE, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Chasko, Drums, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal)

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

13
What Makes You Happy
00:03:36

Brad Wood, Producer, Drums, Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, Bass (Vocal) - Liz Phair, Composer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - TOM LORD-ALGE, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Ed Tinley, Engineer, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - John Hiler, Engineer, Guitar, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Chasko, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

14
Fantasize
00:01:55

Bill Berry, Bongos, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Mills, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Liz Phair, Composer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - PETER BUCK, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - SCOTT LITT, Producer - TOM LORD-ALGE, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - DAVE SCHIFFMAN, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - SCOTT MCCAUGHEY, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Nathan December, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

15
Shitloads Of Money
00:03:39

Liz Phair, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - TOM LORD-ALGE, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Ed Tinley, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Scott Bennett, Drums, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Troy Niedhart, Accordion, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

16
Girls' Room
00:01:46

Liz Phair, Composer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - SCOTT LITT, Producer, Mixer, StudioPersonnel

(C) 1998 Capitol Records, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., 1750 North Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. ℗ 1998 Capitol Records

Album Description

Following the halfhearted reception to Whip-Smart -- good enough to retain her critical stature, not good enough to enhance it -- Liz Phair slowly retreated from view, marrying and having a child. Toward the end of 1996, she began to work on her third album, but it took her nearly a year and a half to compete it, due to a variety of reasons. When whitechocolatespaceegg (a reference to her baby boy's shiny bald head) finally appeared in late summer 1998, it had been a full five years since Exile in Guyville, and nowhere was that more apparent than in Phair's third album itself. Certain familiar elements remained -- her plain vocals, strummed guitars, and character songs -- but this was a brighter, cleaner, more content Phair. There was none of the emotional turmoil that underpinned Exile and, to a lesser extent, Whip-Smart. Even if the songs concerned violent emotions, there is a studied distance between her and the songs here, whether it's the character study "Uncle Alvarez" or "Johnny Feelgood," where the female narrator is beaten up and likes it. In other words, whitechocolatespaceegg is the work of a craftsman, not an inspired work of brilliance like Exile. And while that may alienate some hardcore fans, that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially since the best moments -- "Big Tall Man," "Baby Got Going," "Go On Ahead," "What Makes You Happy," "Johnny Feelgood," and the Girlysound leftover "Shitloads of Money" -- are tuneful and literate. Still, there's a distance, not only in the lyrics but in the overly polished music, that makes whitechocolatespaceegg difficult to embrace unconditionally, even if it may be a stronger record than Whip-Smart.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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