I really didn’t mean for there to be a near four-months gap in this series, and so I’m returning with one which goes back to basics in that it’s a debut single which the band never topped at any time in the future.
Don’t Dictate was released in November 1977. It was the work of Penetration, a band from Ferryhill, a small coal-mining town in the north-east of England, taking their name from an Iggy Pop song. The line-up which recorded and released the debut single, on Virgin Records, consisted of Pauline Murray (vocals), Robert Blamire (bass), Gary Smallman (drums) and Gary Chaplin (guitar).
The single, and indeed its b-side, was credited to Chaplin/Murray, but just a few months later he left, to be replaced by Neale Lloyd and then Fred Purser was added as a second guitarist, seemingly at the insistence of the record company who wanted to flesh out the sound.
The line-up alterations fuelled a change in the group’s dynamics, and moved them away from what was a punk sound to one which was far rockier and harder in edge. Indeed, the all music review of Moving Targets, the debut album released in late 1978, states:-
In another lifetime, they could have given the likes of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple a run for their money, at least in terms of demonstrating dexterity
The debut album did actually sell fairly well, reaching #22 in the charts, but the reviews of the live shows were increasingly highlighting the fact that many of the songs contained guitar solos, played by Purser with a high degree of skill and ability, to the extent that they bordered on metal and not punk. It was, admittedly, a fine line – I knew punk fans in Glasgow who loved Motorhead but who would scream blue murder if you played the classic rock stuff, so I guess it was down to just how fast a band played.
Anyways, Penetration’s popularity diminished very quickly and they broke-up soon after a second album, Coming Up For Air, was released in September 1979. Pauline Murray would later join up with The Invisible Girls, a group initially formed to provide a musical soundtrack to the poetry of John Cooper Clarke, recording a fabulous self-titled album in 1980.
Fun fact time. John Maher of Buzzcocks was the drummer on the Pauline Murray and The Invisible Girls album. When Penetration reformed in 2015, Maher could be found pounding the drums at the gigs and indeed in the studio as the band released a third album, Resolution, after a gap of 36 years.
Here’s the b-side of the debut 45, clocking in at just over 100 seconds in length:-
Rather fabulous……..that’s if you want to my view on it.