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PENETRATION: Two new single releases

PENETRATION: Two new single releases


photo credit : Rik Walton

First generation punk act Penetration have announced the release of two 7” vinyl singles via a Pledge campaign. The first contains three songs demo-ed in early 1977 and hitherto only available on an official bootleg. Newly recorded by the group, ‘In The Future’, ‘Race Against Time’ and ‘Duty Free Technology’ will be released on purple vinyl. The second consists of two cover versions : ‘Shake Some Action’ was originally released by Flamin’ Groovies in 1976 as that US power-pop group found itself aligned with the burgeoning punk scene, while ‘I Don’t Mind’ was a 1978 single by UK punk stalwarts Buzzcocks. Available on gold vinyl, the Penetration 7″ features former Buzzcocks drummer John Maher.

Full details of the Pledge campaign can be found here : http://bit.ly/2weTrAS

Penetration were formed in Ferryhill, County Durham in late 1976 at the very beginning of the punk phenomenon. Their bass, drums and twin guitar line-up were distinctive musical features, while singer Pauline Murray’s fearless yet vulnerable vocals fitted perfectly with their anthemic and often complex song arrangements. They signed to Virgin in 1977 and released the classic ‘Don’t Dictate’ single that autumn. Their debut album, ‘Moving Targets’, was released in 1978 to critical acclaim and commercial success, reaching no. 22 in the album chart.

Their second album, ‘Coming Up For Air’, was produced by Steve Lillywhite (in between helming the debuts of both Siouxsie & The Banshees and U2) and was recorded immediately after a long US tour. The sessions were rushed, but even so produced excellent songs such as ‘Come Into The Open’ and ‘Shout Above The Noise’ that ensured a healthy Top 40 chart placing for the finished record. However, a combination of stress and pressure from label and management proved telling factors when Murray announced onstage at Newcastle City Hall that Penetration were splitting up upon completion of their autumn 1979 UK tour to promote the album.

Murray and bassist Robert Blamire continued to write together and teamed up with Martin Hannett (Joy Division, Magazine) to record the proto dream pop single ‘Dream Sequence’ with The Invisible Girls. Released in 1980, it was swiftly followed by the Top 30 album ‘Pauline Murray And The Invisible Girls’ (reissued by Factory Benelux in  2014) and a tour with John Cooper Clarke. That same year, Murray also provided guest vocals on the final album release by The Only Ones, ‘Baby’s Got A Gun’ (including the single ‘Fools’), while Blamire began an association with the highly rated Scars that resulted in him producing their acclaimed ‘Author Author!’ album.

PenetrationPersonal life changes and disillusion with the industry caused Murray to turn her back on music in 1982 aged 23. When she eventually started to write again it was as a fiercely independent artist. Setting up the Polestar label with Blamire, she released several singles during the latter half of the ‘80’s (including covers of songs by Alex Chilton and John Cale) and an album entitled ‘Storm Clouds’ in 1989. The following year she also set up Polestar Studios, a music rehearsal and recording facility in Newcastle.

Murray was persuaded to reform Penetration in 2000 and the group began playing live again, including a number of appearances at the annual Rebellion punk music festival. However, it was only in 2015 that they released their long awaited third album, ‘Resolution’, which was recorded via a Pledge campaign and was well received by critics and fans. It was awarded the no. 2 Album of the Year accolade by Vive Le Rock magazine, while their back catalogue was also reissued and positively reassessed in ‘The Virgin Years’ box set that autumn.

‘Resolution’ retains the essential components of Penetration, with subtle references to their previous releases sprinkled throughout. Produced by Blamire, his bass combined with the drumming of John Maher (Buzzcocks) provides a strong rhythm section, while the powerful guitar parts of Steve Wallace and Paul Harvey blend perfectly, leaving Murray’s still strong and unique voice to convey passionate yet intelligent lyrical subject matter. The album artwork is designed by Vaughan Oliver. A legend in his own right via his long term association with the 4AD label, he was actually in the same class at school as Murray and Blamire.

Penetration toured ‘Resolution’ upon release and in 2016, while Murray also appeared in BBC TV programmes and on music and literary panel discussions relating to influential women in rock and the 40th Anniversary of Punk.