County Lines: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 133
Spike In Vain - Jesus Was Born In A Mobile Home - Scat Records - ?? songs - LP, digital, cassette
Note: I’m reviewing the LP here, which contains the entirety of the cassette (with an alternate version of one song inserted in its place), but with bonus material and in a rearranged order (for an experience truer to the original, I guess just pick up the tape). This finally completes the Spike In Vain trilogy (unless there’s more unknown stuff lurking somewhere, I suppose): this was the band’s second release, following up the classic “Disease Is Relative” LP. Sort of an in-between release with some live stuff scattered in, closer to “Disease” than to the later “Death Drives A Cadillac” material. Right off the bat, this is the least essential of the three records, but it’s still definitely worth hearing. For the most part, the best stuff is what was on the original tape— it’s pretty undeniable that “Little Voice That Betrays” and “Ugly And Damaged” and “Helga At The Square Dance” are among the best Spike In Vain songs (also I’d like to mention “Love Isn’t Hollow,” the final track on the tape, which was recorded in 1981 and I think is therefore the earliest released Spike In Vain recording– it’s a great track). However, while a lot of the live stuff on here is decent but kind of too lo-fi to really stick (though with titles like “Killing Frame Of Mind” and “Michael Landon Pukes On Your TV” there’s still something there), there’s an equal amount of great bonus stuff. The alternate recording of “Rejected By No. 12” is classic Spike In Vain; an extended live version of “Opus” is incredible and makes me wish they’d done this full thing for the “Disease Is Relative” album (though the version that is on there is still very good); “Swamp Baby Blues” points towards the more Gun Club-influenced sound of “Death Drives…”; the live version of “E.K.G.” here has an absolutely insane vocal performance; and “Strangeland County,” originally released on the excellent “They Pelted Us With Rocks and Garbage” comp, might be my favorite Spike In Vain song ever— who else sounds like this? This band is hardcore, goth, death rock, no wave, art rock, blues— and somehow it all works. While this may be the Spike In Vain record to get once you’re already into the band, it’s still definitely a record to get. 4/5
Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send it directly to the Observer: PO Box 770203, Lakewood, OH 44107.