There are two certainties as to what what would happen if there were a debate on the most important punk albums of the last 20 years. The first is that it would be a shitstorm. The second is that the short list would most certainly include Operation Ivy's groundbreaking album, Energy.
This version of Energy is slapped with the self-titled tag and is essentially a re-release of a re-release. The original version of the album consisted of 19 tracks and was the band's only full-length. It was later re-released on compact disc format with eight additional tracks, tacking the Hectic EP as well as the songs "Officer" and "I Got No" from the Turn It Around compilation.
In a way, Energy had no path in front of it other than success. Tim Armstrong and Matt Freemen on guitar and bass would, of course, continue on to form Rancid while frontman Jesse Michaels would take his lyrical spark and messages about the pursuit for social justice with him when he formed Common Rider.
The influence Operation Ivy had (and continues to have) on the East Bay scene as well as the punk scene at large cannot be overstated. Not only is Energy the most seminal album of the ska-punk genre, but its combination of melodic punk, ska and reggae has influenced almost every band on this website that came after it. Billie Joe Armstrong who went on to form his own little band, used to try to sneak into shows claiming he was a relative of Tim Armstrong. Green Day would go on to cover one of the album's most popular songs, "Knowledge," on an early album and are still known to play it live. It's no exaggeration to say that Operation Ivy have influenced nearly every punk-related band to some degree.
This reissue of Energy doesn't contain any extra material, but at 27 tracks it's already bursting at the seams. In fact, the number of songs on Energy is really the album's only drawback. Length isn't an issue, as most of the songs clock in around the two-minute mark, but with a handful of songs such as "Caution," "Knowledge," "Sound System," "Take Warning," "I Got No" as well as others being so damn good it's nearly exhausting, it's easy for others to begin to feel like filler. To be fair, though, Energy is meant to be a comprehensive collection of songs and it isn't really fair to take points off a collection for having too many songs. What the album does boast this time around is a complete remastering of the material. While at times the improvements seem rather subtle, it has served to fill out many of the thin-sounding parts of the songs. It doesn't sound over-produced and keeps the spirit of the original intact all the while making it a more pleasant listening experience.
The songs on Operation Ivy have held up well, which really isn't all that surprising. The excitement and urgency of the band's songs are as strong as they were the first time I heard the band, causing me to wear out the cassette twice in 1994. Listening to the songs on Operation Ivy it's impossible not to feel the excitement of Energy's first listen.
If you're still not sure whether you want to shell out the bucks for a reissue (especially if you already have a copy of it) feel free to stream it right here.