Saturday, June 23, 2007

Powerpop Noir

Speaking of great bands that deserved far better fates, a few live videos of the criminally-neglected Fingerprintz have finally turned up on YouTube. I've worn out several copies of their 1980 LP Distinguishing Marks which sadly, has fallen out of print for many years and has yet to see a CD release. I bought my first copy of this disc without ever hearing a note of the band; indeed, it was the cover that sold me-- a series of post cards with illustrations that could easily have graced the cover of Black Mask. Luckily, the music was as cool as the art.

Produced by ex-Motor Nick Garvey, Distinguising Marks is a completely unconventional powerpop classic. The 'Printz had a musical approach that was not unlike Drums and Wires era XTC-- an angular guitar sound melded to sticky-sweet melodies and ear-worm choruses. But imagine XTC if Raymond Chandler had penned the lyrics. The tunes burst with a palpable sense of fear and paranoia as song characters navigate the mean streets of a faceless urban jungle. Powerpop Noir.

Here's some sample lyrics from Bulletproof Heart:

Some say this is a dangerous place
Dangerous women lipstick mace
Men disappear without a trace
Stay anonymous hide your face
In this town you`d need a Bulletproof,
Shatterproof heart

Other songs such as Houdini Love, Remorse Code, and Amnesia echo the film noir theme and make Distinguishing Marks an LP worth seeking out at your local used vinyl store.

Leader Jimmie O'Neill and 'Printz Guitarist Cha Burnz later went on to form The Silencers, which had considerably more success with their 1987 LP A Letter from St. Paul which included a couple of minor British hits such as Painted Moon and Scottish Rain. I remember they had vids on MTV when MTV used to actually show music videos. They also re-recorded an inferior version of Bulletproof Heart on their Dance to the Holy Man LP in 1991.

Anyway, here's the band on the Old Gray Whistle Test doing the original version of Bulletproof Heart (sorry, embedding was disabled on the video!)



TuneLovinJacket said...

thanks for the remnder. i had not listened in a while... great, fun album.

PapayaSF said...

I also bought the album because of the cover and played it death. There are at least four cuts that would have been radio hits in a just world. I love the title Remorse Code and the first lines:

Too bad I disturbed your cigarette smoke
Sorry I was born

Here's a rip (not mine) of the album:

Password: fingerprintz

78.38MB RAR file includes cover scans. Approx. 300 kbps VBR, 44.1 kHz, LAME 3.96.


Yes Eyes
Houdini Love
Criminal Mind
Bulletproof Heart
Remorse Code
Ringing Tone
Hide and Seek