Devil Between My Toes (1987)
Hot Freaks (Band Lineup): Robert Pollard, Mitch Mitchell, and Kevin Fennell
Others on album: Tobin Sprout, Payton Eric, Jim Pollard, and Steve Wilbur (who engineered the album and used his studio to record the album)
Number of Songs: 14
Long as the Block Is Black (a.k.a. songs longer than 3 minutes): One, and it’s epic as far as GBV goes. “A Portrait Destroyed by Fire” clocks in at just over five minutes!
Avg. Length of Song: 2:13
Number of Instrumentals: Five
Number of Songs NOT Written Entirely by Robert Pollard: Five, with four of them co-written with Pollard’s brother, Jim (“A Proud and Booming Industry”, “Bread Alone”, “3 Year Old Man”, and “Crux”).
Guided by Sprout or Gillard?: Sprout. Let’s face it. If there is a choice to be had this early in the game, it’s gonna be Sprout… at least until 1998, when Gillard joined up!
The Part in That Song That Makes You Want to Rule the World: The entirety of album closer “Captain’s Dead”. After hearing the jangle pop sounds of R.E.M. throughout the album, finally here is a hint at what’s to come.
Verdict: Easily the “cleanest”-sounding album with little to none of the lo-fi aesthetic found on later releases and certainly nothing like what GBV would go on to sound like by the time of the “Classic Lineup”. Not since their debut EP, Forever Since Breakfast, has GBV sounded so much like R.E.M. – Chronic Town/Murmur era specifically. “Old Battery” and “Discussing Wallace Chambers” channel Peter Buck’s jangly rhythms, and “Hey Hey Spaceman” has the feel of a poppified “Driver 8” (with far more whimsy). -Len Comaratta