Colin Clive of Mustard Plug: 16 Albums That Changed My Life

Colin Clive of Mustard Plug

Feature Photo courtesy of Colin Clive

I’ve been a fan of third-wave ska for as long as I can remember. The marriage of old-school Jamaican ska and punk music, combined with themes of social justice and radical change, has always appealed to me.

When I was younger, I simply liked the energy of the music. As I’ve gotten older, the meaning behind the words has taken on greater significance to me. For me, punk has always been a state of mind. Anyone can be a punk. You don’t have to wear leather or chains. That said, you can if you want. I suppose what I’m getting at is that punk is whatever you want it to be. It’s a personal thing.

Ska/punk is even more so; at least, for me, it is. I’m also not saying I’m a “punk.” I just like the music. In saying that, does that actually make me a punk? Anyway, I’m writing this on May 21, 2024, and I’m reminded of a show I went to on November 20, 2016, with my best friend Joe at a local venue—sadly closed due to COVID-19—called Revolution Music Hall.

That evening, we saw an outstanding bill of ska/punk bands we grew up loving. That night, a local band, High School Football Heroes, Mustard Plug, and Less Than Jake, was on the bill. It was an incredible show, and at the time, I was just beginning to rebuild my lost vinyl collection—which has now been lost for a second, and even more heartbreaking time—so I ventured over to the merch table to check out what they had available.

They were all sold out of Mustard Plug vinyl, but they did have High School Football Hero’s album, Close Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, and Less Thank Jake’s Losing Streak. I deemed these two albums essential, but there was a problem: I was at a punk rock show, and this was a small venue. The entire place was about to become a mosh-pit, and vinyl definitely does not like mosh-pits.

So, I asked the merch guy if he thought the albums would still be there after the show, to which he replied, “No way.” And so, I purchased the two records and resolved to protect them at all costs throughout the show. To make a long story short, I spent the entire show pinned against the soundboard wall, just outside the mosh-pit, hugging my two records. They made it out unscathed, but like I said, I don’t have them anyway. R.I.P., vinyl collection number two. You were damn epic.

At the time, it was annoying, but I have no regrets. The show was terrific. Those two records are now impossible to find, and I have nothing but happy memories. Why am I telling you that story? Well, since then—and since the loss of my second vinyl collection—I’ve gotten more and more into guitars—and have plenty of them now. And on that night, the man we’re chatting with today, Colin Clive, laid down a whole hell of a lot of ska/punk nastiness via his Reverend guitar.

Colin has always been a hell of a nice guy, and I’ve interviewed him a few times over the years, but this time, we’re doing something a little different. And so, on a day when I fondly remember one of my favorite shows, my lost vinyl collection—and days when my back could handle a mosh-pit—I’m happy to share this one with all of you. Colin is a great guy, so here’s the sixteen albums—in no particular order—that changed his life. Dig it.

Wrong by NoMeansNo (1989)

I saw NoMeansNo on probably one of their first tours. They only had the You Kill Me EP for sale. I left that show a different person. They were so bizarre compared to the ‘80s punk scene at the time. I still don’t know how to describe them, but they make some of my favorite music of all time. Just listen to everything by them.

They showed me it was okay to be different and everyone should strive to be different. To just do your own thing. To just make your own music. I remember the exact moment I put this record on in my dorm room at college. I was instantly blown away by the first song, “It’s Catching Up.”

It was that transition from the first song into the second song, “The Tower,” that completely melted my brain. From the frantic energy of the first track to the stomping sludge of the second track it just felt seamless. Such a cool moment and forever inspiring to me.

Electric by The Cult (1987)

These psychedelic goth rockers showed everyone it was okay to just plain rock. When this album came out, it completely took myself and everyone I know by surprise. They made straight-up rock ‘n’ roll cool for the alternative goth kids. Such a bold move, and it worked. We all secretly loved AC/DC, Kiss, and Judas Priest, but this made it safe to proudly say so and still be “alternative.” Still probably my favorite complete album by them. I still get sad whenever I see this in the used bins.

Alive II by Kiss (1977)

What can I say? I love Kiss! This album has so many hits from all the earlier albums. The tempos are up. The sound quality is incredible. That gatefold is emblazoned into my brain. Those unreleased studio songs on side four are just plain rule. This is hands down my favorite Kiss record. It was also my first Kiss record. This is why I wanted to play music and be in a band.

Head on the Door by The Cure (1985)

I love pretty much everything The Cure has ever done. They showed me you could be depressed and happy at the same time. That it was okay to change yet still retain your identity. That you could be cool and different. This album has a wide variety of styles, as many of their records do, I suppose. It seems to stick out as the most cohesive one to me, though. I love it from start to finish—one of my all-time favorite bands and such an important record to me.

Wild Planet by the B-52s (1980)

I recently did a listen through their whole discography. I still don’t really know which is my favorite between this album and their debut [The B-52’s]. Together, they feel like one complete unit. I did give the edge to this, however. It’s so quirky and so good.  Proving that you could be fun, creative, serious, and passionate all in one fell swoop. This album is magical. The B-52’s are magical. That guitar playing is so rad.

Paul’s Boutique by The Beastie Boys (1989)

Ahhh! Paul’s Boutique is a masterpiece! Such a smorgasbord of sounds! Again, such an inspiring bit of work to me. I enjoyed bits of their debut album like most people did at the time it was released. It wasn’t until they dropped this album and made a pretty drastic turn that I really took notice, though.

This was truly innovative at the time. I don’t remember hearing much else, if anything, like it. It really opened my eyes and ears to what was possible with music. It’s another album that shows a pretty profound stylistic change within a band and showcases a lot of variety. I’ve always been a fan of that and try to incorporate those ideals into my songwriting as much as I can as well.

This Is the Day… This Is the Hour…This Is This! By Pop Will Eat Itself (1989)

This album is pretty much the U.K. counterpart to The Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, in my opinion. Again, another drastic style change for the band. Moving from grungy, poppy guitar-driven pop to sample-heavy, hip-hop-inspired material was a big change, and it worked perfectly. I still think this album showcases everything I love about this band a lot. Samples, guitars, beats, and melody. It’s all there. I love Pop Will Eat Itself! The whole catalog.

Can’t Stand the Rezillos by The Rezillos (1978)

I’m not sure what needs to be said about this album other than it’s absolutely perfect! I remember this copied tape being passed around at my high school with “The Rezillos” scribbled on the label. That was all anyone knew about this mysterious, magical, and wonderful band.

I don’t know where the tape originated or who started passing it around, but they deserve much praise because the album has been hugely influential for me. I love everything about it, from the party vibe, dual vocals, ripping guitars, killer bass, and awesome drumming.

It’s just perfect. They later rebranded themselves as The Revillos, which were just as wonderful and became a slightly more polished version of this band. Regardless, this is where it started. This album is crucial listening for everyone. So inspiring as to what music can be and how it can make you feel. To me, it’s wonderful!

If You Swear, You’ll Catch No Fish by SNFU (1986)

SNFU is one of my favorite bands. The whole catalog is important. This album and the debut are the two that really captured my attention, though. During my first guitar lesson, I asked the teacher to teach me the song “Misfortune” from the debut, …And No One Else Wanted to Play. He didn’t understand them but taught me the metal breakdown riff, so that was cool.

I also asked to learn “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” by The Cure. I was fortunate enough to see SNFU a lot during my life. Chi Pig is still one of my absolute favorite front people. The way SNFU incorporated the two guitars in new and creative ways is hugely inspiring. I have nothing but love for SNFU. R.I.P., Chi Pig. I miss you always.

Uaioe by KMFDM (1989)

This early KMFDM album is hugely inspiring to me. I wish they would’ve kept going in this direction longer. They do still delve back in every now and again, though, so I can’t complain too much. The way they incorporated reggae and dub influences with electronic, industrial, and guitar material is so innovative. It was something I hadn’t heard at the time, and I still haven’t heard it done quite as well as this since. It’s so rad. This record rules from front to back.

The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses (1989)

This is a desert island album for me. I will never get tired of it, and I recommend it to pretty much everyone I meet. It perfectly captures all the best parts of the Brit-Pop, Madchester, and dance-rock scene. I love everything about this unique album: the vocal harmonies, guitar work, cool bass lines, and the incredible drumming. It’s another perfect one. I wish they’d make more.

Dig That Groove Baby by The Toy Dolls (1983)

The Toy Dolls are one of a kind. No one sounds like them, and that, in itself, has had a huge influence on me. There’s a lot of music out there, so treading your own path is a feat in itself. The Toy Dolls just plain rule. The musicianship is top-notch, the vocal melodies are so catchy and it’s just nonstop fun. I’m glad I was able to see them once. They obviously blew me away. Long live The Toy Dolls!!

Throb Throb by Naked Raygun (1985)

Chicago icons Naked Raygun were a big part of my early punk life. I was fortunate to live nearby, so I was able to catch them live a lot. They single-handedly engrained my love of a good sing-along chorus. As with most of the albums and bands on my list, I think that Naked Raygun crafted their own original sound.

I think that’s what this list has proven to me. Be original. Do your own thing. It may not always work, but in the end, it sets you apart from the rest. Naked Raygun put out so many great albums and remain an incredible live band. I love them a lot.

The Specials by The Specials (1979)

This album is absolutely perfect and needs very little introduction. It’s probably the main reason I love ska and ska/punk so much. There are a lot of ska bands around this time that I feel are just as important, but this album is at the top.

The production is so amazing, and it feels as fresh and new today as it did so many years ago when it was released. It’s original, it rocks, it’s hooky, it’s danceable, and it has incredible lyrics. 100% perfect! I will never tire of listening to this record.

Pinkerton by Weezer (1996)

This one is crazy to me. When it first came out, I admit I didn’t love it. It sounded too lo-fi or something. It was jarring and unexpected. But it didn’t take long for the hooks and songs to dig in and win me over, though. I honestly worship this album to this day. I throw this on, and I still hear parts that I haven’t heard before.

The production and guitar work on this record is truly mesmerizing to me. I’m not sure how or why they did it. It was really a bold move, and, in the end, I think it paid off in some way. It still doesn’t sound like it belongs on the radio or anything. It just became its own thing. A glorious, noisy, personal, catchy, wonderful little record. I love it. It’s so cool.

Milo Goes to College by Descendents (1982)

I was turned onto punk rock by this album, and it completely expanded my musical taste. Prior to this, I came from a small town and really only knew about Kiss and Judas Priest. I had just moved to a new city, and a girl I met took me straight to a local record store and told me to buy this album. I did and never looked back.

I’m fortunate enough now to call the guys in the band friends. I’ve recorded a bunch of records with them at their studio, and I’ve played shows where they’ve watched from the sidelines. Life is crazy. Totally stoked that the girl from Spring Lake told me to buy this record. Thanks, Ellen Middlebrook. R.I.P.

If you had fun reading this one, there is more where that came from……

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Colin Clive of Mustard Plug: 16 Albums That Changed My Life article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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