(We Ri Pro) (Guest Review by Gentleman John Battles) Monster Island Plus, a two man band, long before it was the hip thing to be, hailed, alternately from Denton and Dallas, Texas (with the occasional trip to Brussels). In the mid to late 80's, MI+ were part of a burgeoning music scene in Denton, which also included Snake Farm, Bliss, Charred, The Whirlygigs (for whom Monster Island drummer and singer Eddie Holland also played), Professional Christ Imitators (a two man hardcore band that never seemed to have played out), The Hydrolators, and some guy called John Battles. It would be several years before anyone in Dallas picked up on this VERY DIY music community, one that would go on to usurp Dallas in local band power and even as a preferred stop for touring national acts. For original music Denton was largely limited to a former State Fair corn dog stand and a still intact ex-Pizza Hut, which served hot dogs and hamburgers, instead. Then, there were frequent house parties (more on that, later). Guitarist and singer Tim Pope joined then-exotic percussionist Holland in more toned-down affairs than what appears here, some 25 years later, for their first-ever studio release. The tempos and instrumentation go from one extreme to another, light and heavy like an Iron Butterfly (Pope used to look like he could have been a member of said band). There's a lot of humor, but, if you're not a fanboy or a former NTSU student, some of it MIGHT go over your head. Or just get stuck in your head and STAY there. They're joined by a full studio ensemble on most tracks, but since I don't do acid (and, I'm NOT saying they do, either), I'm having a really hard time reading the liners. Pope and Holland pull off some unique harmonies, and Pope lays down some cool coffeehouse acoustic and hard Garage/Psych electric guitar while Holland makes with both Latin percussion and big, bawdy Rock'n'Roll drums. All or mostly originals, barring a strong version of "2000 Man" by The Rolling Stones (I can't BELIEVE no one jumped on the chance to cover this when said year rolled around, especially with the prophetic line "Well, my wife still respects me, I've really misused her, I am having an affair with a random computer."), reworking the lyrics slightly, and throwing a verse to suit the year 2010, when this was recorded. It's just possible, too, that they recorded it in honor of the nearly-forgotten version KISS did in '79 (But the fact that the band members are dressed, quite convincingly, as Paul Stanley and Peter Criss, on the cover, didn’t influence my observation). The acoustic/electric tug of war reminds me of The Deviants' and Pink Fairies' first albums, while other songs, still take on a Hawkwind "Space Rock" quality. "Klaarg The Klingon" sounds like The Simpsons doing Star Trek, not a bad thing at all. The real standout track has got to be "The Leaning House," a staple in their set back in The 80s. The Leaning House was this old house in Denton that sorta ...leaned. It's possible, somehow, that it's still standing (last I heard, it was). All the Punk Rock Art Student people seemed to live there, yet, it was hard to tell who actually lived there, and who was visiting. The Leaning House was host to many great parties, with local bands and visiting performers from as far away as...Dallas. These parties were often shut down or quieted down, anyway , by the cops, while the frat house next door carried on at three times the volume. But, Monster Island Plus could tell you more of it's legend than I can, here. They could also tell you more of the legend of special guest guitarist, Takashi O'Hashi, a megastar in Japan. So, while this group carries with it a "Hey, your chocolate is in my peanut butter!/Hey! Your peanut butter's in my chocolate!" aesthetic, a collection of musical and personal explorations, gathered over more than half a lifetime, the end result makes perfect sense in this day and age.