Jim Morrison said;
“I see myself as a fiery comet. A shooting Star. Everyone stops, points up and gasps… then woosh, I’m gone…”
He said a lot of other stuff too, most of it was utter rubbish, but this I can take and apply it too many other things, people and bands that have existed for far too short a time. None fit this statement more appropriately than Operation Ivy, a Californian Ska-Punk band formed in 1987 by (now) Rancid members Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman, with Jesse Michaels and Dave Mello.
It isn’t often a Punk band can be given credit for the kind of musical creativity which actively affects or changes in an entire scene, but the release of Energy kick-started a trend that revived a failing punk music scene in the California area. Existing for a a brief two years, Operation Ivy is the previous name of Berkely Punk Rockers Isocracy and is taken from the name given to the eighth set of Nuclear Tests carried out by the US.
The story of Operation Ivy is immortalised in the fantstic Rancid track Journey to the End of East Bay, from their 1995 album …and Out Come the Wolves:
The album itself is a pick ‘n’ mix bag of little two-minute treats brought together to form a 36 minute collection of classic Punk songs that dominate your stereo like a hoard of marauding Mad Max bad guys, chuckling to the sound of disharmony. The sound is as stripped as it’s possible to be, just four mates slamming their instruments into submission to create a sound that would bring people out of comas to get their feet tapping. The vocals are aggressive without being complacent and rattle on about common Punk themes with an inherent youthful outlook, a refreshing simplicity exists in these songs that became the main ingredient for all their successful peers.
Great tracks on the album include Sound System, Unity, Bombshell and an amazing cover of One of These Days by Nancy Sinatra. The whole album, though, is awash with brilliant lyrics and great pick-me-up riffs that get you jumping uncontrollably to the beat and shouting along to the chorus with the boys, punching the air.
The album still has fans today, constantly being re-released by Hellcat Records and pulling in a new younger audience who continue to relate to the lyrics and be drawn in by the quality of the music, there has been a picture disc vinyl and now there is a special edition with digital download. Many bands including Green Day, Millencolin and Goldfinger have covered Operation Ivy songs and continue to use them in sets to this day, there is even a tribute album. Operation have proved Charles Colton to be right when he said “Imitation is the best form of Flattery”.
Energy is more of a description than a title for this album, partly because it’s full of it from start to ending note it pisses energy like a drunk in an alley, but also because by the time you’ve finished listening to it, you won’t have any left. Put this album on and I dare you not to be swigging cold beer, skanking round your front room shouting out the lyrics with passion. Your neighbours will wonder what is happening, your dog will be confused but it won’t matter cos music like this speaks to something deep inside you that says ‘I must jump about like an arse and sing loudly to this stuff’.
Give praise to the album that saved Punk stateside and allowed us to have great bands like Sublime, Green Day, Offspring and of course the gods of Punk-Rock Rancid. Love this album as much as I do and it will give you much in return.
Keep on Skanking my Black Flag Friends!!!