About Me

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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Jack "Penetrator" Lipton: Bad Boy

These are my liner notes to Bad Boy, a 2004 EP by Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.


A dash of Dylan, a roll of Stones...wait, that's what Time magazine said about Paul Revere and the Raiders in 1966.  Time has thus far remained strangely mute on the subject of the midnight ride of Jack Lipton, so I guess we've gotta take up the slack right here. 

As a young man in the small 'n' sedate city of Syracuse, NY (motto:  "We're gettin' a MALL!"), Jack Lipton grew up with a rock 'n' roll dream of wedding the deadly, cocksure cool of The Rolling Stones circa Exile On Main Street with the raw power of Iggy and the Stooges.  He first achieved notoriety as the lead singer of The Penetrators, a band billed as "Syracuse√≠s Only!," before leaving Central New York behind to declare his love for that dirty water down by the banks of the River Charles.  Hmph--traitor.  But Jack retained that early dream, and he pursues it with stalker-like intensity on this, his very first solo release.
As Exhibit A, consider Jack's ace take on Iggy and the Stooges' proto-punk classic "Search And Destroy."  Backed by a badass band of rockin' alt-pop luminaries--the great Paul Armstrong of The Flashcubes on guitars, Tony Kaczynski of Fireking on bass, and drummer Ducky Carlisle (best known as an in-demand producer, but legendary in Syracuse as the former timekeeper for The Ohms and 1.4.5., AND TAKE OFF YER HAT WHEN I SAY THOSE NAMES!!)--Jack throws his body, soul and collection of old Creem magazines into the song, wailin' away with the transcendent furor of a damned spirit rammin' through the gates of Hell.  He doesn't surpass Iggy--because really, y'know, who could?--but he manages to look ol' Ig square in the eye without flinching or conceding any ground whatsoever.  And that's an accomplishment in itself.
The EP also includes two originals, "Trouble" and "Get Off The Corner," co-written by Jack with producer John Fannon, who played all the instruments on those two tracks.  Both of these recall the street-wise, semi-jaded romanticism of Ed Hamell (another expatriate Syracusan who blew town--jeez, was it something we said?!), influenced as well by Springsteen but filtered through a garage-bred grittiness that's far less Woody Guthrie and much more Johnny Thunders.  The record--and YES, you can still refer to CDs as "records," you insufferable nitpicker--concludes with a cover of The Standells' "Dirty Water," proving that Jack's surly, swaggering heart remains in the garage from whence this Bad Boy came.

Hmmm.  Trouble.  Search And Destroy.  Get Off The Corner.  Dirty Water.  This is hardly a litany of sweetness and light, but it's pretty much what you should expect from a self-described bad boy.  Hear now four tales told by the same sort of unrepentant rock 'n' roller celebrated in song by Larry Williams and those Beatle guys.  A bad little kid's movin' into YOUR neighborhood.  Now Bad Boy--behave yourself.