Take Warning – The Songs of Operation Ivy – Review

Take Warning

The Songs of Operation Ivy (Glue Factory)
by Margo Tiffen

I’m sure that more than of few of you have gotten muscle spasms trying to keep up with the lyrics of Op Ivy songs. Just as I’m sure that me and my juvenile buddies weren’t the only ones who spent a Saturday afternoon or two trying to say “Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up” or get that whole opener of “Gonna Find You” (you know – back in school you ever get busted for tryin’ to walk and have some administrator tell you…) without completely screwing it up. Listening to Op Ivy was an artform, an experience in audience participation and an instant bond with anyone else you found who was in on the brilliant secret. Problem was, as revolutionary and incredible as Energy was, there was only so many times you could listen to it (I think 794 was the accepted limit last time I checked). Unless you were lucky enough to snag a copy of the famously rumored-to-be-in-existence-but-not-quite-accessible-through-any-other-than-very-shady-means demo tape, Energy was the whole fix and nothing other than a fix.

Then, lo and behold, ten years later, it comes. Didn’t quite think of this, did you? Something you always realized in the back of your little needy, withdrawal-racked mind had to happen, the only thing that kept you going through years of shrieking, tortured “Unity” and “Knowledge” covers at backyard beer-fests… an Operation Ivy tribute album. Yes, Glue Factory Records loves you. They heard the wretched pain-filled screams that erupted from the deepest innards of your soul at every rotation of “Spiderweb” and pulled together a venerable whos-who of Southern Cali bands to appease you.

The album kicks in with Reel Big Fish‘s energetic cover of “Unity,” complete with fuzzed-out vocals and closing out with “Yeah, bitch!” My Superhero does a great, ethereal pop version of the very gritty “Big City.” “Bankshot” by Pocket Lent moves through a polka bass line into a carnival song. The Blue Meanies, brilliant as usual, serve up a disturbing, darkly nightmarish, organ-laden “Yelling In My Ear.” The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies‘ “Sound System” is swingin’, and “Take Warning” comes with a nice dose of reggae courtesy of the Long Beach Dub All Stars. You can’t help frantically bobbing your head along with The Hippos‘ “Freeze Up.” Marshall Arts‘ hip-hop twist on “Bad Town” sounds uncomfortably like TLC’s “Waterfalls” (you’d have to hear it to believe it), and The Aquabats turn “Knowledge” into one of the best camp sing-a-longs I’ve heard in years. Only problem is, the danger in getting a really great fix is that it just leaves you needing that much more.