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Guided By Voices

Devil Between My Toes - 2022 Reissue

    Devil Between My Toes was the debut album by Guided By Voices, originally self-released by the group in February 1987 in an edition of 300 copies. Disillusioned by the lukewarm reception to the band’s debut EP the previous year, Robert Pollard resolved that this record would be conceived for an audience of one: “(it) is strictly for me and me only. Because no one’s going to buy it, no one gives a fuck, but I’m still gonna do it. So I might as well put only what I want on it, for me. An album for me.”

    Even amongst the 30-odd proper GBV albums, Devil Between My Toes remains unique, and not simply because it was the first to be released. Much like its out-of-focus cover photo of the mean rooster next door (Big Daddy), the album’s vibe is dark, minimalist, and mysterious. Most of the album was recorded as a trio, and it contains more instrumentals than any other GBV album, but like the best LPs in their catalog, the sequencing renders these tracks essential to the flow and mood of the LP. While there are the expected Brit Invasion hookfests sprinkled throughout, we’re also treated to career highlights like the monolithic “A Portrait Destroyed by Fire” (Tobin Sprout’s first GBV appearance) and “Cyclops,” a track that would be right at home on Vampire On Titus had it been recorded more crudely.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Old Battery
    2. Discussing Wallace Chambers
    3. Cyclops
    4. Crux
    5. A Portrait Destroyed By Fire
    6. 3 Year Old Man
    7. Dog's Out
    8. A Proud And Booming Industry
    9. Hank's Little Fingers
    10. Artboat
    11. Hey Hey, Spaceman
    12. The Tumblers
    13. Bread Alone
    14. Captain's Dead

    Spike In Vain

    Death Drives A Cadillac

      Death Drives A Cadillac was Spike In Vain’s second album, never officially released and unheard in its final form until now. Like many hardcore bands circa ’84 and ’85, the group was ready to further expand its palette and ease off the thrash tempos. Recorded roughly a year after Disease Is Relative with a bigger budget, the album is even more wide-ranging, and the songs are more fleshed out. “Despair grew inside her, I grew inside her. She named me Spirit Death, and this is my song” sings Chris Marec, the vocalist on half of this LP.

      Though less “young” than their debut, that album’s darkness lingers, but here has a more removed, observational quality, with many songs sung in character or in the third person, along with a tendency for anthropomorphic allegory. It has a bit less to do with screaming for death to come than with a growing resignation to being the other, a recognition of inescapable alienation and its relation to childhood trauma. —all with a heaping side of absurdity and a sense of wonder at the gradually unfolding endtimes.

      That said, many of the tracks wouldn’t be out of place on the debut, and some feature exotic tunings. Bits of roots music come into play as well—gospel, blues, and country figure to some extent in a third of the songs, sometimes in convoluted, Beefheart-esque ways, and at other times toying with genre archetypes as a cat does a mouse.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Too Cool
      2. Abysmal Child
      3. Spirit Death
      4. Dogsleds In Heaven
      5. Rattlesnake's Wedding
      6. Escape From The Zoo
      7. Lady Luck Is Dead
      8. Valentine's Day
      9. Big Black Locomotive
      10. Party In The Ground
      11. Totem Fields
      12. Gospel Motel
      13. Count Basie's Ghost


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