The original 1976-1977 U.K. punk explosion produced 100 fantastic bands, but only a small handful ever get mentioned in the endless articles that pay homage to those days. Anyone who has been willing to go beyond the heavyweights or the since-deified has encountered rock & roll brilliance brimming with spirit, talent, attitude, great lyrics, and most of all (and this is what's most forgotten) variety. Penetration took a few singles before they really achieved greatness, but even their simplistic debut, the Mike Howlett/Mick Glossop-produced Moving Targets, had a slew of great songs for the amazing Pauline Murray to sing, and their second and final LP, the Steve Lillywhite-produced post-punk classic Coming Up for Air, just further established their lasting worth. But whenever turning someone on to the group, the LP that best reveals their greatness is definitely Race Against Time, a plain, black- and white-sleeved, authorized bootleg on Clifdayn Records that was released as the band was breaking up at the end of 1979. It consisted of nine 1977/1978 demos on side one, and seven more songs recorded live in Newcastle (and they could really bring it live, as seen on Race and at their New York gig at Hurrah). This 65-minute CD is a reissue of Race, with a proper sleeve this time, and even tacks on seven previously unreleased, hot John Peel sessions! All 23 tracks are more live, raw, hard, exciting, and one hell of a great rush, far less polished than the Howlett/Glossop/Lillywhite major-label outings. And Murray's savvy lyrics and impassioned singing are not to be missed. Once you get this, you'll want the two proper LPs (Moving Targets was reissued on import CD in 1990), and Murray's two excellent solo LPs, 1981's Pauline Murray & the Invisible Girls and 1989's Storm Clouds.
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AllMusic Review by Jack Rabid