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Ready for some more racket from the titans of the tritone? The deans of decay? The earls of entropy? Until recently it was unknown how prolific Cleveland’s Spike In Vain were in their three year run, roughly Fall 1982 through Fall 1985. Had all the group’s songs been recorded, they would’ve filled five LPs handily. While only the debut album Disease Is Relative, compilation appearances, and a virtually unknown cassette were issued during their run, 2021 saw the band’s unreleased second album Death Drives A Cadillac pulled out from its secret lair, and 2023 will see the release of the Jesus Was Born In A Mobile Home cassette via this much expanded double vinyl edition. Upping the original’s twelve track program with an additional fifteen unreleased or rare tracks, this compilation provides a panoramic view of this mercurial, many-headed beast of absurdity, discord, and death.
This release is loaded with surprises for even die-hard fans. Among other highlights, there’s a nine minute version of “Opus.” While the recording on Disease Is Relative is essentially three short songs smushed together, this later live version doubles that, with all new material seamlessly tacked onto the original. “Winter’s Black Hand” is a shocking outtake from the second album with the same insane, harrowing quality as “Children In The Subway.” There’s a 1982 rehearsal recording of “Tenement Housing,” the closest the band ever came to a straight up punk song. Or the rambling, shambling, and devastating “Drunk And Ugly Soul Food (As I Understand It)” from an early 1985 radio session. Along with other live recordings of songs that never saw the inside of a studio and a few more outtakes, Jesus also gathers stray songs from compilation albums with much improved sound. The majority of the tracks here were mastered from the original reels, while others had to be rescued from cassettes. Veteran engineer John Golden has done a knockout job dealing with the wide variety of source materials, lending it cohesion without sacrificing the skull-splitting rawness of some tracks.