Jay Gordon and the Penetrators
This is an arena rock CD complex and textured that will pull you into dark mysterious places. Weather your a straight up blues fan, rocker or metal freak, you'll be digging the action of Jay's great fret work. Amazing solos that are well orchestrated that will peel the paint off the walls. Sharon on bass, anchors all the tracks while laying it down and dirty with the drummer Abe as he carves up the beats red hot. Songs that rock and vocals that soar, this trio were all born under the same bad sign and sounds like a thousand harleys. So rise up and rock, listen and live forever. Buy it now and play it loud.
NOTES ON IMMORTAL Jay Gordon ought to be a household name. He has recorded so many albums that even he can’t remember them all, including a bunch for the French label Dixie Frog. Jay can fill a stadium in Europe, and he was invited by none other than Eric Clapton himself to play at a guitar summit. So why doesn’t he record for a major label? And why isn’t he known coast-to-coast in the USA, his own country?In a word: Blues. Jay is the quintessential blues guitarist. He can play gutbucket stuff right out of Lightin’ Hopkins or he can dazzle you with scintillating electric runs in the 12-bar structure that would make Mike Bloomfield or Alberrt Collins sit up and say howdy. Truth: The blues—unlike back in the 60s and 70s—now has a narrow audience, so Jay’s career has been circumscribed recently to mostly aficionados of that form.Can’t teach a salty dog new tricks? Dead wrong.Jay and his band, The Penetrators, have switched gears and released this rock album, Immortal. Not a by-the-numbers rock album, either, but an arena-rock concept album, complex and textured, that explores good and evil. And not in any kind of academic way, mind you, but from the heart with lots of heat. Immortal is an album that will get you shouting, get your butt out of the chair and onto the dance floor, and bust your speakers into shreds and sawdust if you crank the juice up enough. Of course, this being Jay, there’s a sweet side, too.The proceedings kick off with “Rock and Roll - Lock and Load,” a hard-driving anthem that states the modus operandi musically speaking for the entire proceedings to follow. “My blood is pumpin,’ Jay shouts right up front, “Rock has set me free.” To prove it, he blasts out a great, wailing riff in the break that’s pure chromatic honey to the ears. Right on the heels of this manifesto comes another, “Ride to Heaven,” a celebration of Harley Davidsons, the freedom of the road, and the celestial possibilities of wind in your hair. The sound of a burbling chopper begins and ends the song. In the middle, Sharon Butcher’s bass anchors the track and proves women have the outlaw spirit down deep as much as any man. Meanwhile, Abe Perez, a prodigious percussionist, carves up the beats and the off beats and drives the whole song right down the road to the far horizon. These two superb musicians back up Jay to the max, as though the trio were born under the same bad (meaning good) sign. And to get this out of the way right here: The production values and mixing are top shelf.Tune Number 3, “The Sunlight Guards The Day,” is a wonder. For nearly 50 seconds of the intro—an eternity in a pop song—and before we’ve heard a single word—Ms. Butcher lays down the sweetest, slow-walking bass you’ll ever hear, and Mr. Gordon, all macho bravado laid aside, picks a beautiful melodic treble on his six-string. For a couple of minutes the lyrical impulse continues, the guitarists singing plaintively about a lost paradise. This yearning gives way suddenly to a rocker that complicates the sweetness by means of both words and the plunging, forceful lead. Finally, the tenderness returns, and the song fades out. “Sunlight Guards The Day” is a magnum opus, more than ten minutes long, and it’s genius, really, in the way it expands the world of the album.Tracks four, five, and six, “Set The River on Fire,” “Way Down Inside,” and “Electric Redemption,” constitute a trinity in the way they each separately explore the sorrow, anger, and angst of living—and the possibility of a way out.. “Every day the war gets stronger,” Jay sings to a chucka-chucka beat and some mean, descending chords in the first of these tunes. In the second, the singer has “been away so long now,” though he keeps chasing his dream, and there is some light at the end of the tunnel, as he manages somehow to keep his faith “in the higher power.” “Electric Redemption” uses the vocabulary of faith, of hell and redemption, to lay out the polarities of what it means to be human and struggling to understand our plight and to survive and triumph. These three powerful songs demonstrate how Jay can use his guitar to so masterfully to inflect the emotion in the lyrics as he gets his instrument to cry his sorrow seemingly from the depth of his soul.“Rockin’ Woman” is a kind of secular hymn and enters well-known rock and roll territory while showing a way out of the darkness explored in the three previous songs. In sexual love between men and women, that “warm and tender feeling,” the song insists there is a possibility of redemption. This is a theme as old as poetry itself. But of course sex isn’t everything, as the next song, “The Magic of Love,” makes clear. Returning to a slower lyricism, this next-to-last tune explores the better side of life’s dualism and insists that we thank god for who we are and that we “just be happy.”And yet the album ends with “Hell’s Kitchen,” taking that image as a metaphor for the world in which we live, a world of “evil eyes,” and “witchcraft,” and “black magic,” with Lucifer himself orchestrating the “horrors” and “shooting fire upon the lamb.” At first, this song, straight out of The Book of Revelations in tone, seems an odd way to end this concept album of the struggle between good and evil. Wouldn’t the happier ending of “The Magic of Love” be a better way to go out? Yet maybe that’s too Hollywood an ending for Jay, who literally lived in Hollywood for many years, and so has seen up close what the world looks like for real, rather than in celluloid dreams. Or maybe he just wants to scare us, to get us back to the magic of love. Anyway you look at it, it’s a circle and rock and roll is the vehicle that gets us around that uroboros—that snake with a tail in its mouth..Finally, one thing that not every listener may notice right up front, but which makes Jay Gordon such a fine—such a genuine—musician, is that although his music is blues and rock based, he does not just play routine, programmatic “box” scales. Instead he mixes up major and minor scales, using varied tonalities to draw out the emotional nature and quality of any given song. Also, his solos, present in every song, can be passionate and fiery, of course, and he can blaze as well as anyone. But that’s not the whole of his guitar work by any means. He doesn’t play just to impress by virtuosity. He’s no egotist or showboat who rips off runs to wow you just because he can. Instead, his solos are always tasteful and well orchestrated; and they are always integrated into the context of the tune at hand. This makes him second to none in the guitar-slinger business, and when I say that I do mean that he is up there—way up there—with the big guys like T-Bone, Duane, Jimi, and Jeff Healey. As a result, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re a straight-up blues fan, a rocker, or a metal freak. If you know the electric ax and what it can do in any of those genres, you will be digging the action of Jay’s fretwork..And finally, finally: There are a couple of bonus tracks on this amazing CD, two different takes of “Set The River On Fire” and “Hell’s Kitchen.” They’re good too. And so is the flaming guitar artwork for the CD cover! Immortal, indeed. Now where’s that major label? Neil Flowers is a writer, editor, film, book and music critic, and theatre director. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for professional engagements
FROM THE BLUES TO ROCK ’N’ ROLL Jay Gordon out to prove that neither genre is dead BY VANESSA FRANKO THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE March 12, 2010 Jay Gordon isn’t one to believe a supposed death knell of music genres. “Rock ’n’ roll is not dead and the blues isn’t dead,” the Riverside-based guitarist said. “Rock ’n’ roll will be here forever, and so will the blues.” That legacy of music is what led Gordon and his band the Penetrators to name their new guitar rock album “Immortal.” They wanted to put out an album that would live forever. While Gordon isn’t a mythological hero who has been around since the dawn of time, he has been playing the guitar for decades. He knew from the time he was 9 years old that he wanted to play music and he has toured the world as a blues guitarist. With songs like “Ride to Heaven” and “Way Down Inside,” Gordon bridges his blues roots to arena rock with bassist Sharon Butcher and drummer Abe Perez. “There haven’t been exciting guitar solos in a long period of time,” Gordon said. Gordon started thinking about doing a rock record nearly a decade ago but wasn’t ready until last October, when he found himself wanting to push the envelope further than his regular blues and boogie stylings. “I’ve done 11 blues-rock albums, and I want to stretch it a little bit,” he said. Gordon ended up with 30 songs and brought them to Butcher to work on and then weed out. On the other hand, Gordon knows that the blues world is only so big, and he wants to expand out of that group. “I didn’t want to totally disregard where I came from — my roots,” Gordon said. He ended up with “Immortal.” visit www.jaygordonandthepenetrators.com for more information. Reach Vanessa Franko at 951-368-9575, vfranko@PE.com, www.myspace.com/Audio_File or http://blogs.inlandsocal.com/music.