If Memories are truly priceless then I have memories of Jack “Penetrator” Lipton and Elliot “Spike-Penetrator” Kagen that have enriched my life beyond measure. From the turbulent times of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when America threatened to unravel over a war in Viet Nam, to today’s post 9-11 world where fear and fright and the war in Iraq are the daily norm; I have known these 2 rockers for 35 tumultuous years. Ever since we all cut our first recording of the Chuck Berry classic “Johnnie B. Goode” in the pre-Watergate days of the early 1970’s in Spike’s basement with his antiquated reel to reel recording technology, to today’s modern recording methods where sounds are blended together by masters like Charlie Borruso which resemble the ingredients of a delicious stew, I have been indelibly linked at the hip with these 2 rockers whose appeal transcends generations. If the Penetrators represented the human body, Elliot would be the brain, and Jack the heart. Elliot-the more subtle and cerebral, Jack-the more direct and sensual. Elliot is the philosopher, while Jack is the pragmatist. Elliot, with a scientific and engineering mind that is reaching for the stars, while Jack remains right here on earth, Jack Lipton’s’ first solo release, his long awaited “Bad Boy” CD recording reflects those themes.
In fact, Jack Lipton communicates more about practical real world experience in these 4 songs, then most people sing in 12. The lyrics and beat of “Bad Boy” touches more emotion than does the average album with its superfluous renditions and fillers. Alas! There are no fillers on “Bad Boy!” Every song hold its own and then some! It is neatly packaged and flawlessly executed without being repetitive or redundant. There is nothing but red meat here. “Bad Boy” represents a very concise and powerful, but yet efficient statement. Jack “Penetrator” Lipton is the undisputed master of the “tough guy” and down to earth vocal.
This toughness is most noticeable when he dares to take on and duke it out with the 2 classics “Search and Destroy” and “Dirty Water”. He stands toe to toe and doesn't flinch with the incomparable Iggy Pop in “Search and Destroy”. Daring Iggy to come to another level of consciousness, while singing the song with a raunchiness and interpreting the unforgettable lyrics in a style that leaves the listener gasping for air, and begging for more! Not many would “dare to tug on Superman’s cape” as Croce’s “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” so eloquently expressed a generation ago. But “Bad Boy” Jack Lipton, whose 11th grade History teacher once proclaimed “He’s gut guts!” as he defiantly slammed the door while storming out, most definitely does tug on “Superman’s cape” of the great Iggy Pop. Lipton gets away with it, and even invites the listener to imagine and compare to the heretofore invincible Pop. No small feat indeed! And 1 that very few artists would even attempt! But to his credit, Lipton does!
Along the same lines, Ed Cobb’s rock classic of “Dirty Water” is sung by Lipton with an appealing swagger which mixes the blues influence of the American Midwest, sung by a man who has white skin and a black heart, much like Presley a half century ago. “Dirty Water” is somewhat autobiographical to Jack, and it is sung in a more soulful, energetic, and POWERFUL! Manner, than the original by the Standells. But yet, there is a certain wistful quality in this song as well, reminiscent of Wilde’s famous lines “You can’t go home again”. Perhaps you can’t, but this son of Massachusetts longs for his “home on the River Charles”. And in so doing, he makes us long for our home as well.
The final 2 songs in this album which are entitled “Trouble” and “Get off that Corner” reflect the themes of rebelliousness, lost youth and found wisdom. Unlike James Dean in the 1950’s classic film “Rebel Without a Cause” this self proclaimed “Bad Boy” has found his cause of serving as a mentor to the young and foolish as he finds himself personally dealing with the effects of middle age. Again, Lipton rises to the challenge, as he competes with the rockers of a younger generation, whose memories of the turbulent and traumatic 1960’s and 70’s are virtually non-existent. In fact, the whole album itself is partly about the lost art of rock and roll. Today’s 18 and 20 something's sing with a pretty good voice, but you never know it. The melodies are nonexistent. Good rock is about songs sung well and a message to youth! Lipton’s “Bad Boy” has both! “Trouble” and “Corner” both have profound messages to our next generation. The only question is: Will they choose to hear it? “Trouble” is again slightly autobiographical, mixing with social commentary, which the singer invites the listener to contemplate. It utilizes a vocal style similar to that of the Memphis sound of Elvis Presley’s “Burning Love” of the late 1960’s “Corner” meanwhile combines the compassion and sensibility of a soulful preacher with the wisdom of a man who himself has lived and seen much of the unseemly while working on the “salt city’s “ south side. IN this song, perhaps the most overtly emotional of the 4, I was struck by the combination of gentleness and masculine roughness that permeates the lyrics. Perhaps Lipton is urging us to merge the divergent aspects of our own characters. And women must see themselves as more than just an object of man’s desires. There’s a big world out there, with very much work to be done! Jack Lipton invites young women to become full partners with men in doing the work of the world. This is a valuable message to many young people, especially to the countless youth, who have not had the benefit of a male mentor in their lives. The contrast of vulnerability and politeness, masculinity and assertiveness is indeed striking, and perhaps serves as a metaphor for the “tough love” approach that many of our generation seem reluctant to administer to today’s troubled youth. Again, Lipton dares in his “Bad Boy” to confront what most will shirk. This is social commentary at its best.
In conclusion, this 4 song masterpiece is a pervasive dichotomy of conflicting themes at different times. Jack Lipton, along with his superb all star cast of supporting musicians, perform “Bad Boy” with an eclectic mixture of 4 different musical styles. These dichotomies are pervasive throughout the album, and reflect the profound complexities, but yet still simple truths of life itself. I give this album 4 stars! It is excellent!
Fred Rapp (former President of Fred Records) 8/04
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