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July 24, 2024

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Take Warning
The Songs of Operation Ivy (Glue Factory Records)

By: Alex Steininger

Operation Ivy is one of the most powerful and influential bands in ska/punk history. Most credit them with starting or re-inventing the ska-punk movement that is strong and alive today. With so many bands influenced, picking a few to do a tribute album for the band they all love, cherish, and worship is a breeze. And Take Warning is that tribute album. Ten years after the break-up of Operation Ivy, their music still lives on.

The CD starts out with an annoying version of "Bombshell" by Home Grown. A bunch of annoying voices line this song, and end up destroying it. This happy pop-punk version takes away all the depth and power Operation Ivy had in their version, as well as stripping it clean of any individualism, except the annoying vocals. And the light addition of ska does nothing for this song. Reel Big Fish add some flavor to the compilation with their pop-ska version of "Unity." Happy upbeat melodies crossed with the message of unity equals a great, friendly time. After listening to their rendition, how can anyone be violent towards another? It beats me. My Superhero's version of "Big City" is another stand-out on this album. Their power-pop/ska beats shed new light on this song, while the vocals do nothing but add to the song. The song is as infectious as the original, and just like the original the chorus will blow you away. Of course, the lyrics are Operation Ivy, so your going to get a heavy dose of reality and questions about our society. Good melodies combined with strong lyrics, and you'll be smiling! Blue Meanies add their distorted, noise punk combined with ska to the words of "Yellin' In My Ear." This song can't be described. It is an experience all it's own. And a good experience at that! The best track on the album comes from the Cherry Poppin' Daddies. A brilliant, swingin' version of "Sound System." This song packs as much power as the original, but adds a twist to it. More upbeat melodies provide a happier atmosphere for the listener, while the horns sound off in the background adding even more of a nice taste to the song. The Cherry Poppin' Daddies pay much respect to Operation Ivy, and this song proves it. Strong and classic. Hands down the best song on this album. Popsters Teen Heroes do a cover of "Smiling." The song is light and fluffy, relying heavily on the lyrics. They do a good job of bringing the words of Operation Ivy to the front, and force you to listen to the moral of the song, which is about love and respect, not just finding someone at a party to screw. Overall, a nice rendition. Longfellow takes the award for least tampering of the song. Their straight forward punk assault of "The Crowd" sounds very similar to Operation Ivy's themselves. Instead of throwing in the occasional ska riffs like Operation Ivy did on this song, they blast ahead with fast, brutal punk that is still melodic. If you liked the original, your forced to like this version since it doesn't sound all that different. But the final track on this album brings us the biggest surprise of them all. The Aquabats version of "Knowledge." They bring us an acoustic, campfire sing along. Call it disrespectful, call it amusing, but in every light you have to call it fun. I must admit, I got mad when I heard this version, discrediting it as making a joke of Operation Ivy. But after listening to it more and more, all the while thinking, I came to the conclusion it was all in fun. Even the kazoo was done in good fun. In that case, I learned to enjoy this song like I should have in the first place.

The thought was nice, but was it necessary? Some of these tracks come really close to the talent and loveableness that the originals had, but some fall flat on their faces. There are many bands out there influenced by Operation Ivy, so why only include fourteen tracks? I think a volume two is desperately needed, because as it stands this disk is too short to be considered a full tribute album. There a bunch of tracks on this CD I love, and there are some I can't stand. But, only one or two come remotely close to the high standards the originals had. The best I can give this CD is a B-.

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