The past decade of Liz Phair has been a bit weird and awkward. There were the two flawed but intriguing major-label albums, failed crossover bids both, which led to the music press treating Phair like she’d spiked the Bowery Ballroom kegs with ricin. There were all the interviews about how she was never indie to begin with, how she always wanted to make pop music. There was the confounding industry-targeted internet album Funstyle, the one with the rapping and the Bollywood samples. There have been all the gigs writing background music for random-ass TV shows like Swingtown and In Plain Sight. It’s been a messy time, and I think the messiness of that time — on top of the haterism that greeted Phair when her instant press-darling status propelled her beyond the rest of the Chicago underground — has somehow obscured the greatness of her initial run. Because Phair’s first three albums — Exile In Guyville, Whip-Smart, Whitechocolatespaceegg — is total legend status, something I’d hold up against any three-album run from anyone in history. And Guyville, the debut album that turns 20 tomorrow, was the best of the bunch, and maybe the greatest work of traditional American indie rock that anyone has ever made. It’s also probably the best road-trip album of its generation and the signal of a rare talent’s arrival. It deserves to be celebrated. Let’s do that.