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WCSE Sessions

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As one can imagine, the furor over Liz’s third album, whitechocolatespaceegg, was still in full swing amongst Liz fans well into 1999 when several demo and studio tracks were unearthed through the efforts of longtime Phair fan, Ken Lee—owner and operator of the much beloved Mesmerizing fan site.

Lee received an email from someone claiming to be roommates with Jason Chasko, who was one of the producers off of whitechocolatespaceegg. He offered to burn CD copies of the recording sessions from a total of seven different cassettes, which he then sent to Lee, along with a breakdown of the contents.

Lee would later transfer the tapes to CD and distributed them through the aid of members of the 6′ 1″ mailing list digest (now known as Support System). They were aptly referred to as the WCSE Sessions.

The breakdown of the source recordings are referenced below.

WCSE Sessions (1999)
Not official artwork
WCSE Sessions (back cover)
Not official artwork

Released: 1999
Label: None
Format: 2-CD
Country: US
Availability: Rare

Cover art by Robbie McCown
Photo by Katrin Thomas

Disc 1: 1996-1997 Studio Recordings + 1998 Rough Mixes

01. Oh My God (1996 Studio Recording)0:58
02. Headache (1996 Studio Recording)2:42
03. Desperado Theme (1996 Studio Recording)2:20
04.Ride (1996 Studio Recording)3:17
05.Hurricane Cindy (1996 Studio Recording)2:28
06.Rocket Boy (1996 Studio Recording)3:34
07.Perfect World (1996 Studio Recording)2:19
08.Fantasize (1996 Studio Recording)2:02
09.Russian Girl (1996 Studio Recording)5:03
10.Stuck On An Island (1996 Studio Recording)2:40
11.Tell Me You Like Me (1996 Studio Recording)2:56
12.Girls’ Room (1996 Studio Recording)2:05
13.I’m Like That (1996 Studio Recording)2:40
14.Waiting For The Bird (White Bird Of Texas) (1996 Studio Recording)3:13
15.Freak Of Nature (1996 Studio Recording)2:18
16.White Chocolate Space Egg (1997 Studio Recording)4:28
17.Big Tall Man (1997 Studio Recording)3:58
18.Tell Me You Like Me (1997 Studio Recording)2:43
19.What Makes You Happy (1997 Studio Recording)0:58
20.Bars Of The Bed (1997 Studio Recording)3:43
21.Blood Keeper (1997 Studio Recording)3:56
22.What Makes You Happy (1997 Studio Recording)3:36
23.Big Tall Man (1997 Studio Recording)3:39
24.Johnny Feelgood (1998 Rough Mix)3:21
25.What Makes You Happy (1998 Rough MIx)3:14
Tracks 1-15: 1996 Studio Recordings
Tracks 16-23: 1997 Studio Recordings
Tracks 24-25: 1998 Rough Mixes

Not included in the first disc is the 1996 shelved demos. Although the sequencing is identical, the demo set features a more lo-fi, rough set of the running order. Read more about the 96 Shelved Demos.

The 1998 Rough Mixes of “Johnny Feelgood” and “What Makes You Happy” are not from the tapes acquired from Chasko’s roommate. These originate from a different tape that an engineer dubbed for a friend. “Johnny Feelgood” features a slightly different mix than what ended up on the final album. “What Makes You Happy” features a few more differences; the intro guitar is missing and the song has a more complete ending vs a fade out.

Liz Phair in Chicago during the whitechocolatespaceegg recording sessions on December 13, 1997.

Disc 2: 1997 Running Order + Bonus Tracks

Tracks 1-17 is the original version of whitechocolatespaceegg as submitted to Matador in 1997. Matador’s then-president, Gary Gersh, rejected this version of the album, infamously calling it “music housewives would clean house to.” It then went through numerous changes before finally being released the following year in 1998.

01.White Chocolate Space Egg (1997 Version)4:33
02.Fantasize (1997 Version)1:51
03.Headache (1997 Version)2:46
04.Big Tall Man (1997 Version)3:30
05.Baby Got Going (1997 Version)1:59
06.Only Son (1997 Version)5:00
07.Bars Of The Bed (1997 Version)3:27
08.Oh My God (1997 Version)0:57
09.Ride (1997 Version)3:03
10.Waiting For The Bird (1997 Version)3:10
11.Perfect World (1997 Version)2:16
12.Desperado Theme (1997 Version)1:33
13.Tell Me You Like (1997 Version)2:45
14.What Makes You Happy (1997 Version)3:28
15.Freak Of Nature (1997 Version)2:09
16.Girls’ Room (1997 Version)1:47
17.Russian Girl (1997 Version)3:27
18.Blood Keeper (Bonus Track)3:57
19.Greased Lightning (Bonus Track)2:52
20.Hurricane Cindy (Bonus Track)2:55
Tracks 1-17: 1997 running order for whitechocolatespaceegg
Tracks 18-20: Bonus tracks

“Greased Lightning” and “Hurricane Cindy” are the same versions found on the Japanese imports of Polyester Bride single and whitechocolatespaceegg album respectively.

The Source Recordings: WCSE tapes

Chasko’s roommate provided a breakdown of the seven cassettes he sent to Lee.

tape one (dated 4-9-97):

1. White Chocolate Space Egg - early version completely different from the album version slightly different instrumentation, lyric arrangement and alternate lead vocal obviously a working version (lyrics flubbed)

2. Big Tall Man - the instrumental track, similar to the album version (sans the vocal, of course)

tape two (dated 5-1-97):

1. Tell Me You Like Me - different lead vocal and lyrics than the version on Shelved Demos / Studio Recordings

2. What Makes You Happy - rough mix NOT the Brad Wood, produced by Scott Litt? incomplete (it appears Tell Me You Like Me was taped over this song)

tape three (dated 5-20-97):

1. Bars Of The Bed - an unreleased recording that was originally on the WCSE running order (more later).  It's a sped-up, rock rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.

tape four (undated):

1. Blood Keeper - an unreleased recording it's a slow rock number with chords similar to Nirvana's "Come As You Are" (at least to my ears).  Lyrics include: "I'm obsessed, I'm a wreck, I'm insane / Isn't that what you want me to say? / Don't you need to feel my blood on the tracks again?" (This track was intended for the "Scream 2" soundtrack, but was ultimately shelved.)

tape five (undated):

1. What Makes You Happy - apparently a Scott Litt production, different arrangement than the released version. 

2. Big Tall Man - similiar to the version released, save for the ending.

tape six (whitechocolatespaceegg - undated): this is the original running order that was presumably presented to Capitol Records exec Gary Gersh (who rejected it):

1. White Chocolate Space Egg - slightly different mix than the released version

2. Fantasize - alternate mix with more instrumentation

3. Headache - alternate mix with sleigh bells (!)

4. Big Tall Man - slightly alternate mix and more at the end (instrumentation break up)

5. Baby Got Going - alternate mix with quicker fade at end.  This is fun because you can hear Liz laughing and talking.

6. Only Son - alternate vocals.  Lyrics different. Instead of "So long, goodbye, I'm gone already" it's "Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy".

7. Bars Of The Bed - similar to the version mentioned above, only there is dialogue in the background. Apparently, it's a little story about an affair.

8. Oh My God - same as the Shelved Demos / Studio Recordings version

9. Ride - only difference between the released version and this one is that this one features Liz saying "I need a ride..." at the very beginning.

10. White Bird Of Texas - same as the version found on the Polyester Bride Japanese CD single (more production)

11. Perfect World - same as the released version except for you hear Liz set up her guitar at the beginning

12. Desperado Theme - more overdubs, etc.

13. Tell Me You Like Me - similar to the version described in tape two.

14. What Makes You Happy - Scott Litt (?) produced version -- different (see tape six)

15. Freak Of Nature - same as version from Q101 Local 101 CD (anyone want to sell me their copy of this CD???).

16. Girls' Room - same as released version

17. Russian Girl - double tracked vocal.  Liz sounds more confident.  And she doesn't flub the lyrics.

tape seven:
no dialogue tape, but the Shelved Demos / Studio

Recordings tape:
1. Oh My God
2. Headache
3. Desperado Theme
4. Ride
5. Hurricane Cindy
6. Rocket Boy
7. Perfect World
8. Fantasize
9. Russian Girl
10. Stuck On An Island
11. Tell Me You Like Me
12. Girls' Room
13. I'm Like That
14. Waiting For The Bird (White Bird Of Texas)
15. Freak Of Nature
16-30. same titles as 1-15
’96 Shelved Demos (1999)
whitechocolatespaceegg (1998)
Polyester Bride (1998) is independently owned and operated. All relative images and media content is the copyright of their respective persons and is featured here for informational purposes only.