Bob Reuter of “Bob’s Scratchy Records” -KDHX FM 88, St. Louis Community Radio, www.kdhx.org
In early 1980, being a rocker and having made a wreck of my life in my home town of St. Louis, I fled blindly to Syracuse NY - (see there was a girl… but I digress). I remember casting about in search of the local music scene and coming across an article in the local alternative newspaper about a local band that had it’s own label, “Fred Records”. The band was called the Penetrators.
In case you don't remember, 1980 was like the peak of the great New Wave Scare - you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting some cleverboy wearing a skinny tie. According to this article, the Penetrators were anything but smart- they were home made, loud dumb rock and roll. I looked up the main guy, Jack Lipton, in the Syracuse phone book and told him if he ever needed a bass player to give me a call. Three weeks later I got a call that the boys had a gig in Rochester and needed a bass player.
Our rehearsal for the Rochester gig consisted of me listening to their songs over a shoe box sized battery powered cassette player while riding in a cramped, salt destroyed bomb of a car over the three hour drive. Get this straight - folks just never really knew what to make of the Penetrators, there was no huge fan base that I recall - the gig that night was a medieval carnival of spandex and wrap around sun glasses. We had a four hour wait till we played during which time I popped five valium and drank twelve beers - the tact I took was that if I jumped around, ran across the stage and just beat the hell out of my bass, no one would notice it was me hitting all those bad notes or at the very least I’d be a hard target to hit. The night is now a blur but in the end it felt like we had done something important - this band was hated and ridiculed by all the right people.
After that, me and the Penetrators kind of went our own ways - I formed my own band and lost track of Jack and the boys for a good while. Still, Fred Records put out some fine pieces of garage trash that I still prize today - in addition to their own records, they also did a great split 45 by Curtis Seals and Christian De Orbit.
So here we are a whole ‘nother century and I’ll be damned if that Penetrator shit don't sound timeless. Now here’s ol’Jack instigator, the main offender, twenty five years on and he’s got his own CD out - ”Bad Boy”.
Dude’s held up better than most don't seem to have lost a step. And who’s he got on there ( aside from his old pal Spike on guitar) with him?! A couple of them old time Syracuse Pop Music boys helping him out - who’d o’thought!
The sound is great - this ain’t no trashcan production - this is solid rock and roll with plenty of punch. The lyrical content on the two originals is that of a man who’s put in enough time on the planet to know what he’s talking about. Still, for me it’s the covers that really get me - “Dirty Water” and “Search and Destroy” both of which you’d of thought had already been wrung out for all that they’re worth, but Jack takes possession of and makes them feel new, his own - this is what it’s about kids - diving into hell and coming back with the goods.
Keith Richards was once asked how long he thought he could continue to rock - His answer was to say that if Muddy Waters made it into his seventies and do it with dignity and grace… Keith figured he could too. Go on with yer bad self Jack - Cant wait to hear your next one!
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