Juvenilia is an 8-song EP which was released nearly a year after Whip-Smart, in the summer of 1995.
What makes the EP specifically unique is that it introduces two previously-unreleased songs, as well as marks the first time that songs from her Girly-Sound demos make an official appearance within her music catalog.
“Turning Japanese” is a cover of The Vapors’ original song, released in 1980 on their album, New Clear Days. It became their biggest hit. Liz’s version is performed with the Chicago band, Material Issue.
“Animal Girl,” is a piano-laden track recorded live for VPRO-Holland. Allegedly, Liz wrote the song for VPRO radio personality, Lotje IJzermans, who is an inspiration of Liz’s.
The rest of Juvenilia features a small batch of the original Girly-Sound demos which at the time, were the best quality recordings of the songs available, compared to the tapes that had been circulating through fan groups and mailing lists.
The EP was released as both a trifold digipak and a 7″. Currently long out-of-print, copies can be occasionally found on eBay or Discogs.
Released: August 8, 1995
Label: Matador (OLE 129-2)
Formats: CD, Vinyl 7″
Country: US, UK
Availability: Somewhat Rare
Track 1: Vocals, guitar by Liz Phair. Drums, bass by Brad Wood. Recorded and mixed by Brad Wood and Casey Rice.
Track 2: Recorded with Jim Ellison and Material Issue.
Track 3: Recorded live for VPRO-Holland. Tracks 4-8: Previously unreleased through Girly-Sound cassettes. All songs written by Liz Phair except “Turning Japanese,” which was written by David Fenton.
In her own words
one… one… one cause you’ve got me and
two… two… two cause you owe me and
three… three… three, she’s attractive
and four, four, four, we’re at dinner
and five, five, insecure five
cause it’s six, six, six and the winner takes everything everything everything!
A video? Jim Ellison thinks we should put these round TV screen helmets on our heads and rock in front of a sea of bouncing hip-hop cars (low riders) so that our faces — singing vocals — can turn into anything we want. But then he asked me if I knew what the song was really about, and then explained that it’s about this guy who is locked away in prison and has covered his walls with photos of a woman about which he masturbates and hence “turns Japanese” because his face is contorting as he climaxes.
Or we could be these UFO abductee people that discover they have alien implantations and have to break their own noses to get them out.
Is about growing out of puberty and needing gratification. It’s also about a situational romance that never seemed to happen on the days when I was free. This song is for Lotje Ijzermans, VPRO personality, who is an inspiration of a dame. I wanted to be her and live in Amsterdam.
seven, seven, seven out of money
and eight, eight, eight I can’t believe I dated you and
nine, nine, I forget what nine is but
then ten, ten, ten I’m a loser at everything everything everything!
Totally juvenile, embarrassing, and all of that, but there’s no getting around a spooky atmosphere. I think I’m Iggy Pop and I’m writing Funhouse.
My family nickname is Bats, Batty, etc… don’t ask. A combination of an old Dentyne commercial (“Hellooooo Betty!”) and the obvious. Anyway, most of this Girlysound music was written while I was still in high school or early college, and getting out from under the influence of my parents seemed like a do or damned proposition.
Because my friend Nina pointed out that a shark is like a relationship; it has to keep moving or it will die.
Lastly, one of my favorites, “Easy”
I used to pretend that my grandfather, who died when I was eight or so, was hanging around, watching out for me. When I got older, I would imagine that if you blew off a friend or a boyfriend, that their presence would continue to haunt you, as if you had killed them and they wanted revenge. American Werewolf in London was helpful in solidifying this paranoia.
Essentially, Juvenilia is the single for “Jealousy,” one of the more pop-oriented tracks on Liz Phair’s second album, Whip-Smart. In order to make the single more enticing for the singer/songwriter’s fans, five tracks from her legendary Girlysound tapes were included, marking the first official release of this material. Arriving well after the initial media onslaught of Phair’s debut, Exile in Guyville — which included numerous references to the home-recorded tapes — the Girlysound sessions might sound a bit disappointing because they offer no new insights into Phair’s songwriting. If anything, the selected songs accentuate her tendency to be cloying and cute. Not only do the repeated “f*cks” begin to sound like a gimmick, she appropriates Iggy Pop’s “Funtime” on “South Dakota” for no apparent reason than to demonstrate her cleverness. Before the Girlysound songs, Phair runs through a limp version of the Vapors’ new wave classic “Turning Japanese” with Material Issue and hands in “Animal Girl,” an unremarkable new piano ballad.
— Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic
A video for “Jealousy” premiered on MTV’s 120 Minutes on August 6, 1995.
Stills and photos from the video are used in the packaging for Juvenilia.
- The first pressing of Juvenilia on CD had the title misspelled as Juvenalia on the spine. This was corrected in a second pressing.
- Jim Ellison, who sings with Liz on “Turning Japanese” along with his band Material Issue, died by suicide less than a year after the release of Juvenilia. Before his death, they had also collaborated on “The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)” for the Saturday Morning: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits compilation, and “Rocket Boy,” which was included on the soundtrack for Stealing Beauty.