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Mustard Plug - Masterpieces: 1991-2002 Review
by Gary Schwind

Mustard Plug is a pretty good band, for a bunch of guys from Michigan. No, I'm kidding. Not about them being a good band. That much is true. The Michigan part is just a friendly swipe from a Buckeye.

This greatest hits compilation kicks off with "Beer (Song)," which, oddly enough contains no reference to beer. Still, it sets the tone for the rest of the album by delivering a healthy dose of ska-punk goodness.

Let's face it, there are hundreds of ska-punk bands around, especially in southern California where I now live. But Mustard Plug is leagues beyond most soCal ska-punk bands. They deliver fat bass lines, blaring horns and a beat that makes you want to get your skank on (and no, I don't mean Paris Hilton). What makes Mustard Plug good isn't just the fact that they make you want to get up and move, but also because they don't make every song sound exactly the same. Whether it's Dave Kirchgessner's vocal delivery, the beat, or the horn section, they tweak their songs enough so you don't feel like your listening to the same three songs over and over again. Another great thing about this band, especially on this album is that you can choose any track at random and get something good.

This is a really solid album and a good look at what Mustard Plug is all about. I'll hit some of the highlights for me.

"Mr. Smiley," "Brain on Ska," "Skank by Numbers" and "Thigh High Nylons" take me back to my college days, when I owned a copy of Big Daddy Multitude. According to Dave Kirchgessner in the liner notes, "Mr. Smiley" was his attempt to write a song in the style of The Smiths. I'm not sure I would have ever made that comparison although it does combine dark lyrics with a sunny, upbeat melody. Whether or not it reminds you of The Smiths, it is a fine song. And "Thigh High Nylons?" What more needs to be said? Am I right, gentlemen?

Mustard Plug also shows that they can add a dash of politics to their music in "Throw a Bomb." That isn't a recommendation, it's a statement of how politics and religion can make people do things that are completely irrational. It reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons in which Bart says that religions spend too much time focusing on the "stupid little differences" while they ignore the "big stupid similarities."

"We're Gunna Take on the World" is another highlight in my opinion. There is a bit of Dropkick Murphys in this song and the vocals are like a less gravelly version of Dickie Barrett of Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

If you like something you can get up and dance to, this is a great album. Also, if you're a fan of ska-punk, Mustard Plug is a good band to add to your collection.

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