Operation Ivy

Even though The Ramones invented punk, Operation Ivy revitalized it in 1987. Operation Ivy, commonly known as Op Ivy, was a punk band from California that popularized the mix of hardcore punk and ska, otherwise know as ska-core. Although short lived, they lasted until 1989, the band had a huge impact on the punk scene and influenced many great later bands such as Sublime and Green Day.

Although they are widely accredited today, the band did not see much attention during their start and most of their time together. Despite this, every song they put out was a masterpiece. The lyrical content of their songs was mostly about social issues like their track “Unity” which pleads to “stop this war!” and encourages one to form “unity” and “as one stand together”. Many other track are similar to this as well like “Take Warning”, “Caution”, “Artificial Life”, “Healthy Body” as well as one of my personal favorites, “Room Without a Window” which they preface the song by singing:

“The position being taken is not to be mistaken
For attempted education or righteous accusation
Only a description just an observation of the pitiful
Condition of our degeneration”

This shows the general feeling of the band and their views on society at the time. Their songs also follow the typical punk style of being very short, fast and in your face. Although the songs were short, they jammed a lot of meaning into their lyrics and a lot of lyrics into their songs as heard in “Yellin’ In My Ear”. Their ska influence is noticeable and most prominent in the track “Bad Town” which features a saxophone. Each track that Op Ivy recorded is perfect and really sums up the early years of punk.

After Op Ivy, many of the group’s members went on to successful careers forming band like Rancid, Social Distortion, The Transplants and Big Rig to name a few. Op Ivy epitomizes early punk and their vocalist Jesse Michaels sums up the period very well on the inside of their EP Energy:

“Music is an indirect force for change, because it provides an anchor against human tragedy. In this sense, it works towards a reconciled world. It can also be the direct experience of change. At certain points during some shows, the reconciled world is already here, at least in that second, at that place. Operation Ivy was very lucky to have experienced this. Those seconds reveal that the momentum that drives a subculture is more important than any particular band. The momentum is made of all the people who stay interested, and keep their sense of urgency and hope.”

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