Write catchy songs. After ska, after punk, after three different bassists and over a thousand shows, that's still Mustard Plug's three-word mantra. Masterpieces: 1991-2002 is the group's official history and highlight reel, but it also reaffirms what they've always been about. The liner notes include song descriptions written by original members Dave Kirchgessner and Colin Clive. But while they talk about writing in the style of their heroes, or tackling the occasional tough social message, they always admit it's the singalong choruses or relentlessly happy ska rhythms that endure. And in this they cannot be faulted. You can't accuse them of loafing off, either. Mustard Plug were around when everyone but the dedicated hated ska, especially its more raucous ska-punk hybrid. Later, when the third wave movement really took hold, they represented the Midwest. And finally, after No Doubt's platinum ascendancy and the ska scene's return to its underground berth, Mustard Plug washed their yellow jackets and kept on going. Masterpieces includes all the fan favorites -- "Beer (Song)," "You," "Mr. Smiley." (The latter still suggests a horn-y version of Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Enough" for some weird reason.) "Go" and "Safe" show the influence of California punk-pop like NOFX and Pennywise on Mustard Plug, while early Big Daddy Multitude material like "Skank by Numbers" and "Brain on Ska" and the Evildoers Beware gem "Mendoza" are still ska-punk standard-bearers. Will ska ever enjoy a fourth wave? If it does, Mustard Plug will likely be in the thick of it, having some laughs and writing some catchy songs. And hopefully one of them includes another opportunity for Colin Clive to rap about ladies' underthings.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus