Fifteen - Lucky (Cover Artwork)


Fifteen: LuckyLucky (1999)
Subcity Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: fadingtoindiefadingtoindie
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Socio-Political Justice has been intwined with punk rock since its very conception, midwifed by British working-class youth who refused to accept either of the two dismal choices offered them: either poverty on the dole or dehumanizing alienation in a rapidly declineing industrial sector. In the nea.
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Socio-Political Justice has been intwined with punk rock since its very conception, midwifed by British working-class youth who refused to accept either of the two dismal choices offered them: either poverty on the dole or dehumanizing alienation in a rapidly declineing industrial sector. In the near three decades since, Political Punk has matured emmensly as bitter complaints of 'No Future' discovered a little theory and began a more focused sonic anatagonism. Dispite all this progress, the poltics of punk has been plagued by impersonal, simplistic sloganeering or, at the opposite end, equally empersonal, dictionary laden 3:00 summaries of Chomsky's latest work. Both tend to immediately turn off anybody whose voice (and fist) isn't allready raised in the revolutionary choir.

A few bands, however, manage to create strikingly personal political songs that are able to touch even the most staunch neo-con at their most human level. One of the first things that struck me about Fifteen's 2nd to last LP,'Lucky', (aside from its polished production) was Jeff Ott's ability to do exactly this. The album opens with the warbling 'goooo' of Ott's infant child as the band launches into 'Family Values' in which he sings, over traditional midtempo power-riffage,

"Lately I've been working in a factory wage slave that's me /Lately I've been working filling barrels 10,003 / How much wine is enough, to sell to americans/How many products are enough, to sell to Americans/ How much profit is enough for one rich man to make off my labor/Because he knows damn well it comes at the expense of me having time for my children/Family values means:burn down the factory"

Such a message is an infinitely more effective, and sincere sounding, call for labor reform than screaming tired Old Left slogans like "We Don't Need the Boss, the Boss needs Us....STRIKE!!". Lyrically, the rest of the album follows the same human lines.

Musically, there is nothing especially innovative about Fifteen except for frequent displays of musicianship interjected between the traditional 3 chord progressions. However, such musical deviations coupled with Jeff Ott's unique, oddly melodic voice (my closest comparison vocally is Dan from Alkaline Trio's work with Tuesday) make 'Lucky' musically stand out strongly from the masses of similiarly sounding punk 3-chorders. Nothing groundbreaking, mind you, but guaranteed to perk the ears at first listen. As far as punk goes, witch is admittedly not far, this album is without question in my personal top 10. For that reason, I'm tempted to give it a 'classic' score, and know that I do think it's that good, but after steping back as objectively as possible, I recognize its really around an 8. Not for everybody.

In short, 'Lucky', and Fifteen, are perfect for the informed politically interested looking for a little melody and humanity in an politically charged album.


People who liked this also liked:
The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Operation Ivy - Operation IvyPropagandhi - How To Clean EverythingDefiance, Ohio - The Great DepressionDefiance, Ohio - The Fear, The Fear, The FearPropagandhi - Less Talk, More RockNOFX - The DeclineThis Bike Is A Pipe Bomb - Dance Party With...Jawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyGreen Day - Dookie

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
chriseggroll (March 31, 2015)

it's really hard to pick their best album, but I would probably go with this one just because it is better produced than any of the older ones and still has killer songs. choice of a new generation would be my close second.

skarin66 (February 23, 2010)

This album is basically the best thing i have ever listened to in my life.

Jeff Ott is my personal mesiah.

I loved everything about it.

bornagainstcrackhead (October 11, 2006)

i likethis alot.i have read his book "my world" and it was great and very insightful.i dont have it anymore though it drowned in hurricane katrina.but i think this album isnt as good as some of there older stuff..

miniblindbandit (May 13, 2006)

This is a great album. Of course every Fifteen album is a great album. If anyone has read My World (a book written by Jeff Ott which is mainly a compilation of his zines by the same name and a short autobiography) you'd know that his music is very personal and he draws extensively from his own life. In the book he talks about the people behind the songs of "Stolen Life" and "Welcome to Berkeley." The reasons he's changed the line up so many times is 1) his music is extremely personal and 2) a lot of his bandmates were still on drugs after he quit in 1995. He also talks about in this book how his biological mother was gangraped and then jeff was put up for adoption. He was then adopted by a family where the parents physically and sexually abused him. He got into music when he was 12 (with people like jesse michaels and aaron cometbus) and when he was 15 he ran away from home. for good. It was also when he was 15 that Jeff Ott became a father. Since he was just a kid himself and had dealt with abuse all his life, he really didn't know how to handle it. He has since reconciled with his daughter though and they remain very close. Jeff spent the next ten years of his life strung out on speed and sleeping in parks. In his book he actually lists all the citations he's been given by the police and about 500 of them are due to sleeping in public. He deals with issues of homelessness, domestic abuse, child abuse, war, environmental devastation, and other social and political problems in his lyrics because this is the life he's seen and the life he has lived and he somehow wants to atone for it, but at the same time make a difference so other people don't have to suffer like him and the people around him. Jeff Ott is an inspiration for me personally. I saw him last year in Lexington when he was doing his book tour and he played some songs for us on his acoustic guitar. There was a couple with a baby there and he played some songs he wrote for his own daughter Grace and you could see the light in his eyes. He also played survivor and almost broke down into tears in the middle of the song. If you've listen to some songs on his solo album, you'll notice that his voice wavers a lot on some songs. That's where he's fighting back the tears. It's very moving to watch. I appreciate all the music Jeff has given us and the message of peace and equality that he continues to preach.

GlassPipeMurder (September 23, 2005)

I finally got this album. It's great, "We Will Win" being one of my favorites.

Anonymous (July 21, 2005)

jesse luscious should stop trying to give himself a name by bringing others down. who wouldn't think that jeff ott would be passionate about his beliefs and lifestyle? and calling him out on his fatherhood is simply crossing the line, he obviously loves his children, and I know for a fact that they (at least his oldest, Vanessa) feels the same way. i would expect better from an alternative tentacles employee, jesse.

burnincity (September 30, 2004)

Well, well all of you little bastards finally made it to the races, and you feel so good about it you have something to say about every little thing, dont'cha bitches, me too. I have always enjoyed cimpshrine, and fifteen and so have all of my friends, maybe we don't have the time to critique hardworking bands and making their efforts seem contrived. who fucking cares kid, it's all been pretty good, and aren't ya forgetting the bigger picture,subcity is still on the right track, when most aren't, I think it deserves more credit.

Anonymous (June 9, 2004)

Especially since The Criminals don't exist anymore.

If one kid sees their name on here, and go out and buy a Criminals record, I'm pretty sure they aren't going to re-form.

I can understand the Jeff Ott bashing, cuz if you check out www.skatedork.org/fifteen (not sure if it's the 'official' site), and skim through the members section, there were like 25 different bassist and drummers.

Regardless of how Jeff is in person, he's not giving me shit when I listen to his music.
I still enjoy it very much so, and agree with the majority of what he is saying.

Seeing Fifteen live though... that's a different story.
It was like 20% music, 80% talking.

Anyway, I love this cd.

lushj (June 9, 2004)

I don't think it's possible to "name drop" your own band.

Anonymous (June 9, 2004)

"Personally, everything after "Choice" felt forced and contrived. Then he started his nutjob jihads, and it was all over. I wrote a song about it for The Criminals called "Monomania"- that's got the rest of whatever I would post about him in it."

Haha, way to name-drop.

lushj (June 8, 2004)

The reason I post about Jeff as an individual is because his art is bound up in his identity. If you are into his art you should learn about the context of his art/music. Too many people just look at the surface and go "Crimpshrine" "Fifteen" "Okay it is good".

Personally, everything after "Choice" felt forced and contrived. Then he started his nutjob jihads, and it was all over. I wrote a song about it for The Criminals called "Monomania"- that's got the rest of whatever I would post about him in it.

lushj (June 8, 2004)

The only reason I'm giving this record 2 stars instead 0 is for Lucky, the man on the cover. He was a good person and a rad friend, and his death affected a lot of us very deeply.

Now to the shit talking (which is unfortunately true): Jeff Ott is a fucking wingnut. He's probably certifiably insane, and he's definitely a very divisive person. He is quite closed minded, which sucks because he gives the rest of us on his side of the political spectrum a bad name. These observations are based on years of dealing with him, all thankfully a long time ago. I pity his children for having to deal with him as their father.

Want more? Talk with almost any of his ex-bandmates, long-time volunteers @ 924 Gilman, people across the East and West Bay scenes, the list (to quote Jake) is thousands long. For someone who says he stands for all that is good in the world, he's sure a nasty fuck.

CrookedSuperhero (June 8, 2004)

I'm not saying there perfect fucking people, and i know they generally get payed for doing little for nothing, but how would prefer to own a house. I think the best game in the world is to call my landlord round to fix something that isn't broken, then accuse him of stealing.

Anonymous (June 8, 2004)

Thanks to this review I bought "MEDIUM KICKBALL ALL STAR" today...good record. I'm kinda confused though...did Jeff sing on that song "the deal"? i like it, but it sounds like someone else compared to the latter tunes on the record. like ben weasel if he had a sore throat.


Ted_The_Bellhop (June 7, 2004)

I was always very disintrested in Fifteen after finding out that Jeff Ott was a rapist

Anonymous (June 7, 2004)

Jeff Ott needs to stop helping the homeless. And start playing good music again.

That being said, I got into Fifteen last year. Not bad, kind of a lite Propagandhi, but, you know, not foot-in-mouth Canadians.

Anonymous (June 7, 2004)

The dude / chick below me is my new best friend.

REALPUNX4LIFE (June 6, 2004)

Crappy apartment or not, landlords are the most worthless human beings in the world. I'd much rather pay some heartless bank 75% interest on a mortgage than to pay $365 twelve times a year and wind up with nothing at the end. You'd be pretty goofy to say otherwise. "Yeah, I love signing leases. Once I'm out of it, I'll have spent another year and another $4000... with nothing to show for it! AWESOME!" I'm not saying we should hang our landlords, but we should recognize that they have the most meaningless "job" in the world and deserve absolutely none of our respect or money.

CrookedSuperhero (June 6, 2004)

Anyway, ignore that and listen to the song 'stolen life'. Now that is an intresting song about police brutality and murder.

CrookedSuperhero (June 6, 2004)

For fucks sake, just cause you got a load of crappy apartments dosn't mean everyone does. And maybe he dosn't like the factories cause some have very poor working conditions and most pay you a slaves wage

Anonymous (June 6, 2004)

I think i'll earn some scence points. I saw crimpshines and fifteens very first show. At both times i meet Jeff Ott and got stoned with him

Anonymous (June 6, 2004)

great record from one of my favorite bands. fifteen is one of the few bands that can be political and still be amazingly catchy.

Anonymous (June 5, 2004)

I'm not talking about landlords im talking about the quote... the singer is complaining about his job taking away from family values....well how the fuck does he expect to make money.....its stupid and immature lyrics

Anonymous (June 5, 2004)

How is his bitching about landlords ridiculous?
Have you ever had a landlord? I've had many, and they're all fucking assholes. Me and my friends are supposed to pay hundreds of dollars a month for a door with no lock, a toilet that only flushes when you stick a plunger in it, and electricity that goes off when you have more than 5 things plugged in?
Not the only place I've lived in like this.
Fuck the landlords.

And no, I'm not wealthy enough to own this computer I am using right now, so fuck off.

Anonymous (June 5, 2004)

to the guy a couple posts below...what i meant about stop bitching is to stop bitching because you're working for someone for a lot less than they are...well obviously that person is going to work for a low wage they do nothing but what they are told, they are workers..instead of bitching they should start something new.....they complain about society but dont do anything to change it.........you think if this guy had his own factory he would be paying the workers much more than he gets paid...nooooooooo

CrookedSuperhero (June 5, 2004)

I like this CD, and although some of his politics are riduclous (like his hatred of landlords) he is dead right about some things

soulbleed (June 5, 2004)

about time someone reviewed this cd

some1 (June 5, 2004)

stop bitching about things that can't be changed?

should everyone stop doing that? should people not write songs about girls they'll never have or who left them cause that'll never change? how about songs for dead friends? they're not coming back from the dead. or how about anything about how life sucks? cause it always will.

CrankWillDestroy (June 4, 2004)

Very good record. The production is great and really brings out the guitar solos and hard hitting drums. Kinda depressing sometimes but I think it has some optimism - 'Hey kid don't you know, sometimes life is gonna suck, hey kid don't you know sometimes everything is gonna be 'fucked up'... nothing is impossible..'

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

This record fucking owns.
Better than everything that's come out since.

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

the guy on the cover is not the singer, it's a friend of his that killed himself

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

Fifteen rocks, this album is not my favorite but its a good review nice good job

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

fifteen was great on "choice of a new generation" and "extra kick ball all star"....other than that, i'll pass.

sickboi (June 4, 2004)

That cover art makes him look like an extra from "Point Break".

notfeelingcreative (June 4, 2004)

This is my third favorite fifteen album after buzz and extra medium kickball all star! To bad they're not around any longer.

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

Those lyrics you provided suck!

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

i think alot of politcal lyrics are stupid......the one quoted seems like one of them.......people have to stop bitching about situations that cannot be changed

ObeyYourParents (June 4, 2004)

A pretty good record, but it can get a little weird at times. Mr. Ott is an interesting fellow, but sometimes he can be a bit of a windbag.

Anonymous (June 4, 2004)

Fifteen's music can be a little hit-or-miss but that doesn't change the fact that they're one of the greatest institutions in punk rock.

hey_sailor (June 4, 2004)

One of my all time favorite albums...good review too.

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