Operation Ivy

Like totally killer rad dudes!  It's op ivy!!!
I was really into punk music back in the early nineties. Having been a budding youth at the time I could truly identify with it’s aggressive nature and more importantly it was fun to skate half pipe to. I recall back then hearing about a place three thousand miles away called “924 Gillman Street”. It was a concert venue in San Francisco that only catered to independent punk rock music. Many hardcore bands played there but there was also many of the newer vein of pop punk played there as well. Gillman was just about the coolest place in the world to a East coast kid like me, who’d never get to actually visit it. I’d hear stories from friends that went there and automatically I thought those kids were elite. It seemed like all of my favorite bands were playing there or had played there. One such band that played quite a bit at Gillman and skirted the line between hardcore and pop punk were Operation Ivy.

Operation Ivy was a ska punk band that existed from May 1987 to May 1989. Founded in Albany, California Operation Ivy was named after a nuclear bomb test that took place in the fifties. Like many of these trailblazing punk bands the band lived fast and died young at the mere age of two. In that time they managed to play 185 shows and record two EP’s and a full length LP, 27 songs in total. While many more recordings exist in bootleg form you could spend a lifetime trying to track all of that stuff down. They were highly influential and received a good deal of airtime, one of the few bands from that era that you can still hear once in a while on mainstream radio, probably to their dismay. The band lineup was comprised of four members and didn’t change throughout their twenty four month existence. Jesse Michaels, Tim Armstrong(Lint), Matt Freeman and Dave Mello made up the group in your standard vocals, guitar, bass, drums format.

Op Ivy towed the Gillman line of being anti-establishment and anti-corporate. The label they were signed to was perhaps one of the biggest independent labels of the day, at least in terms of quality output, Lookout Records. Like Gillman, Lookout Records were the epitome of cool, at least until they were bought by Sony. Op Ivy’s sound was truly unique and I haven’t heard it replicated to this day, replicated well that is. They were one of the first bands to play punk with ska techniques mixed in. It’s not overbearing though, quite tastefully fully done. The guitar and vox are both slightly ska-ish at times, the right times. Their songs had become anthems back in the day and if you’re a fan it’s hard not to sing along with most of them. No more brown cow. If you want to checkout Op Ivy just pickup the 27 song self titled album. It’s not their complete catalog there are few songs missing but it’s a great place to start and if you really them have fun tracking down the dozens of bootlegs out there.

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