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Rock’s Anxious Rebels

Liz Phair: Last Train To Guyville

Phair’s Fair

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A young, vibrant alternative scene has turned music on its ear. But are the new stars too hot to be cool?

Alternative musicians are a far cry from the strutting, white-male rockers of decades gone by. They tend to be anti-sexist, pro-tolerance and pro-underdog, whether it’s animals or humans. The same goes for female rockers. When Chicago hyper-intellectual singer Liz Phair, 26, played her explicit debut album Exile in Guyville for her parents, she was surprised at the reaction. “The first time my mother heard it, she wept,” says Phair. “Not because she was shocked, but because she was so moved at hearing something so revealing from her daughter.”

Members of the indie community are wary, almost paranoid, about the movement’s being copied or co-opted by the mainstream. “One of the things that I think has really affected the underground negatively,” says Bill Wyman, columnist for a Chicago alternative newspaper, “is this whole idea that this is ‘our’ little scene, it’s for us, we play really loud music, we don’t want fans, we don’t want major record deals, it’s uncool to be popular and to publicize your band.”

— With reporting by Patrick E. Cole/Los Angeles and Lisa McLaughlin/New York

By Christopher John Farley
Time, October 25, 1993

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