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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Alphabet Beats #109: P is for....Penetration

P is for....

 Penetration L to R: Pauline Murray, Robert Blamire, Gary Smallman, and Neale Floyd.

Formed in County Durham back in 1976 (after witnessing Sex Pistols play live in Manchester, Pauline Murray has said "The Pistols made you feel as though you could go and try to do it yourself. They made me start singing"), Penetration were for me one of the premier bands of the ever growing Punk scene of 1977. Their debut single 'Don't Dictate' is regarded as a true classic from the era and the band had got the deal I believe as a result of their support slot at The Roxy with Generation X.

Further single releases showed how they were getting better, 'Firing Squad', 'Life's A Gamble' and 'Danger Signs' are all real quality tunes. Their debut album 'Moving Targets' is one of the best releases from the era and has never been out of my favourite albums of all time list. Personally I think their music still stands the test of time.

Click on the links to enjoy the music.


    Moving Targets (October 1978: V 2109) First 15,000 copies on luminous vinyl # 22 UK Albums Chart
    Coming Up For Air (September 1979: V 2131) # 36 UK

 Penetration Live 19789 (2008 Easy Action).
'Live 1978-79' is a two disc set consisting of two live shows. The first from The Thames Polytechnic on the 16th December 1978 and the second, their final show at Newcastle City Hall on the 14th October 1979 in it's entirity (previously a few tracks had been released on the official bootleg 'Race Against Time' in 1979 but as far as I'm aware this is the first time the whole show has had a proper release). 

I had the pleasure of seeing them live quite a few times way back when and whilst these two shows are quite different from each other, they are a testament to exactly how good they were when on stage. Not only is Pauline Murray an exceptional vocalist but the band are pretty tight and seemed to be more musically gifted than some of the other bands who were around at the time (the band were: Pauline Murray - Vocals, Robert Blamire - Bass, Gary Chaplin - Guitar (1976-78), Neale Floyd - Guitar (1978-79), Fred Purser - Guitar (1978-79) and Gary Smallman - Drums (1976-79). The current line up has only Pauline and Robert as the original members). 

The Thames Poly show would have been just as the debut album 'Moving Targets' was released and ten of the tracks represented on the album are part of the set (only 'Reunion' is missing). Two highlights from this particular set are the two cover versions, Patti Smith's 'Free Money' and Buzzcocks' 'Nostalgia' (kind of funny that only a month before the release of Penetration's debut that Buzzcocks had released their second album 'Love Bites' which contained 'Nostalgia'. Both bands had been out on the road together on the 'Entertaining Friends Tour').

The second show is their final show (though they did reform in 2001 and are still out and about today) and the spotlight shifts to the 'Coming Up For Air' album. The songs may not be as strong as the debut but the band actually sound much better (the inclusions of Neale Floyd and Fred Purser on guitar after Gary Chaplin departed was really bearing fruit). With the band knowing it was the last gig they seemed to play with greater abandon laying down an excellent 26 song set (that included a final encore of 'Firing Squad', 'Don't Dictate' and 'Danger Signs' for the second time that night).
2015 News
There is a brand new Penetration album on the way as well via PledgeMusic. Fred Purser is back on Guitar and John Maher of Buzzcocks/Invisible Girls is pounding the drums.


"Don’t Dictate" / "Money Talks" (November 1977: VS 192) Re-released in 1983.
    "Firing Squad" / "Never" (May 1978: VS 213)
    "Life’s A Gamble" / "V.I.P." (September 1978: VS 226)
    "Danger Signs" / "Stone Heroes (Live)" (April 1979: VS 257) Also released, with an additional track "Vision (Live)", as a 12 inch single.
    "Come Into the Open" / "Lifeline" (August 1979: VS 268)

Penetration Live
Penetration re-animated (Live DVD 2002)
Recorded Live at Northumbria University - Some Highlights of the 16 song set.

Rebellion Festival

Contains: Future Daze, Vision, Stone Heroes and Movement.

Contains: Danger Signs, Last Saving Grace and She Is The Slave.


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