Ready, Aim, Fire!
'Moving Targets' is a welcome CD release of Penetration's debut album from 1978 complete with five bonus tracks. Penetration were formed back in 1976 at the height of the original punk explosion but are often overlooked by retrospectives covering that period. The reason for this is perhaps that much of their material was more tuneful and better produced than many of their contemporaries, something to be glad of these days but back then it meant that they didn't have the same impact as the raucous first Damned album or the big venomous sound of the Pistols.
Along with Siouxsie and the Banshees and X-Ray Spex, Penetration were among the first punk bands to feature a female singer in the shape of Pauline Murray and it's Murray's vocals that are the highlight of this album. 'Lover of Outrage' features a great vocal performance and following track 'Vision' highlights her ability to handle the quieter moments just as well as the big choruses. 'Moving Targets' really does sit well amongst much of the output from the first wave of punk but has much more going for it than some of their DIY contemporaries, the guitar work on 'Stone Heroes' for instance instantly puts them in the group of bands from that time that (despite popular opinion) could actually play their instruments extremely well!
The songs are far from being out and out three minute punk songs, there is a great variety and depth and whilst there are of course several harder tracks there are also tracks such as 'Reunion' that really highlight the flair and understanding of dynamics that the band had as it moves it's way between acoustic, dark verses and repressed aggression. At nearly five minutes in length the final track of the original album, Patti Smith's 'Free Money' is easily the stand out track, building from a slow start it just explodes into a wall of great riffs with yet more accomplished guitar work.
The bonus tracks feature some of the bands early singles such as 'Don't Dictate' and 'Firing Squad' and it's not hard to see how these lead to the band getting a deal with Virgin that resulted in 'Moving Targets'. 'Don't Dictate' in particular is a great tune that aptly sums up the whole feeling amongst the punk movement and whilst 'Firing Squad' doesn't have the same energy it shows how the band were constantly developing into the band that would go on to produce 'Moving Targets'.
Penetration split up in 1979 after a further album but after branching out with various other projects they reformed in 2001 and are currently performing and writing new material.