“Don’t Dictate”

PENETRATION – “Don’t Dictate” / “Money Talks” (Virgin VS 192) November 1977

Penetration “Don’t Dictate” – Though primarily inspired (like everyone else in 1976) by the Pistols, Pauline Murray’s impassioned indignation on Penetration’s debut single owed more to Patti Smith’s life-affirming defiance than to the first wave of ’70s bile-boys.

With their singer marked out as one of punk’s genuinely thoughtful voices, the band from Ferryhill, County Durham released two more singles and a debut album – 1979’s ‘Moving Targets’ – but none really lived up to the promise of ‘Don’t Dictate’.

Feeling chewed-up and spat out by the London based recording industry, Penetration announced their split on home turf at Newcastle City Hall on October 14, 1979, following a hurried and disappointing second album, ‘Coming Up For Air’.

Pauline later hooked up with Martin Hannett as the much underrated Invisible Girls. (Mojo)

Listen, so many of the punk records out this week sound unreal that I’m seriously beginning to wonder how many of them are real punk records and how many are gangs of jaded session men gathered together for a laugh.

This one, happily, sounds properly authentic and it’s by far the best thing of its ilk this week. Set to a wild mutation of Alex Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen” riff, singer Pauline Murray howls defiance in a suitably spikey / sensitive manner.

On the basis of this and their So It Goes performance, Penetration have a degree of klass which, if there’s any justice, is going to whisk them out of Punk Division 4 limbo and into the genuinely-ahem-creative situation.

One of the week’s better small ones. (NME, 19/11/77)

Penetration were a punk group from Ferryhill, a small town in County Durham. Not that far away from where I live as it happens. The group formed after some of them witnessed The Sex Pistols causing chaos at one of their gigs in Manchester.

They took their name from a Stooges song found on their ’Raw Power’ album and were fronted by a female singer called Pauline Murray who also co-wrote the very basic but memorable ’Don’t Dictate’, now considered to be a ’70s punk classic.

I’ve always raised a smirk with the fact that the group are called Penetration and they’re on the Virgin label. Penetrating a virgin.

Despite coming from a small town in the North East of England, Penetration were one of the first punk groups to play at London’s Roxy Club in ’77 supporting Generation X. (EXPO67)

“Don’t tell me what to do” etc. Haven’t we heard all this before. Still, the lady does have a voice like Sonja Kristina of Curved Air. Remember them? (Record Mirror)

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