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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Started in ’87, Ended in ’89

posted by on November 6 at 12:06 PM


I love Operation Ivy.

I could talk for hours about why they’re so great. I could quote favorite lyrics, I could tell you over and over again how I will never feel completely satisfied in my life because I never had the opportunity to see the band live (I was 8 years old in Lake Stevens, WA when they were in their prime), and I could tell you about the time I had to miss my great grandmothers memorial service two years ago because I got to/had to do a phone interview with the band’s former frontman Jesse Michaels (for another publication) and it was surreal and awesome.

Gush gush gush, swoon swoon swoon. I have a real, honest to god relevant reason for mentioning the band.

Hellcat has remastered the band’s self-titled full-length (that was originally released on Lookout! in 1991, almost two years after the band broke up), and it’s in stores today. In this week’s paper I “review” the album. By review I mean to say “examine why it is the 15 year old record has managed to stay not only good but relevant and one of Lookout!’s best selling records to this day.”

Operation Ivy

The best thing Operation Ivy ever did for us was break up.

For almost 15 years now, Operation Ivy, the posthumous 30-track record released on Lookout! Records almost two years after the band called it quits, has survived as an authentic snapshot of the much-romanticized late-’80s to early-’90s Bay Area music scene where bands like Green Day, Crimpshrine, and Jawbreaker thrived.

Though Op Ivy’s founding members moved on to other projects—Tim “Lint” Armstrong and Matt Freeman found commercial success in Rancid while Jesse Michaels teamed up with ex-members of Squirtgun and Screeching Weasel to form the unmemorable Common Rider—their music remains untainted by age or later compromises and mistakes. This month Hellcat Records will rerelease a remastered version of the record that is one of the best-selling in Lookout!’s history.

Hearing it now, far removed from the Bay Area scene by both miles and years, you can still feel the fervor inside a 19-year-old Michaels as he sings to a pack of sweaty outcasts from the stage at 924 Gilman. He fearlessly questions authority and calls for social justice, while his bandmates take cues from the Clash and Madness, bridging the gap between ska and punk rock. They were and will always be a vital punk band with brains, big hearts, and an endearing naiveté. MEGAN SELING

So there. There’s that.

Now, here’s this… Rancid’s tribute to the Op Ivy years:

It’s the one thing that I can depend on.

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Yeah, it's about time for an Op Ivy revival. When I found their music (as well as the oft-overlooked Crimpshrine's) as a junior in high school it seriously changed my life. It was a revelation to hear kids roughly my own age expressing their common punk rock angst and frustrations in such a hopeful, positive and constructive way. The early Lookout! stuff was what made me realize that music could be something way more personal than what I had been exposed to, and that music was something that I could participate in in a real way. It wasn't about saying "fuck you" to mainstream culture so much as saying "let's make a better culture of our own." I can't wait to hear what the remaster manages to do for these classic songs.

Posted by Ben | November 6, 2007 12:31 PM

Well said, Ben.

Posted by Eric Grandy | November 6, 2007 12:47 PM

Oh, awesome Meggers! It's your quarterly Op Ivy nut scrub!

Posted by Alright Already. | November 6, 2007 4:47 PM

1989 was the best summer of my life, and that album was all I listened to. It's all over, though, and it's aural kryptonite now.

Posted by anti-nostalgiapolice | November 7, 2007 12:23 PM

@1 - Sorry to bum you out, but an OpIvy reunion will probably never happen, coming from the horse's mouth:

"If you want to know about an Opivy reunion, take the above description of logistical problems from that common rider bit and multiply it by about 2,000, bring in LAWYERS and record companies, interrupt six or seven lives, and also add the factor of putting a band that never belonged in a big rock club in a one to two thousand seat joint. Oh yeah plus doing it without involving Clear Channel or other right wing fronts. So will it happen? The most honest answer is probably not."

For what it's worth, the last few times I've seen Rancid, they threw a couple of OpIvy songs into the setlist.

Posted by T | November 7, 2007 12:37 PM

Hmm, my link didn't work. That quote was taken from an interview (of sorts) with Jesse Michaels and can be read in full here:

Posted by T | November 7, 2007 12:39 PM

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