Oh, man. Is there music that just makes you feel young again? I don’t mean that reminds you of when you were young . . . that’s an almost endless list that doesn’t seem to go away if you’re of my vintage, as classic rock seemingly cannot be killed off. I can’t walk eight feet down a grocery store aisle without being serenaded/assaulted by a song from high school or college, beloved or hated. I mostly wear my noise-cancelling headphones and listen to my own noise as long as I can, following an incident earlier this year where I just went into an absolute rage over being unnecessarily exposed, once again, to Supertramp. Don’t @ me. I despise Supertramp. I would like to never hear them again. There has been plenty of music made between 1980 and now that could completely supplant any need to ever play them for any reason . . . yet, every damn time I’m in the Wegman’s, there they are. So, headphones for me.
No, I mean music that makes you feel young. Music that is still as exciting as it was when you first heard it, music that makes you jump or shake or dance or something. Music that puts your head right where it put it when you first heard it nearly 40 years ago. That’s Fingerprintz for me. Every time I put them on, I don’t just hear the music, I am in it. Their songs are shadowy, dark, evocative, all about the beat and the space above the beat.
Yet, I discovered them only by accident, really. From the time we declared out everlasting devotion to The Beatles, my roommate Danny and I were very much in lockstep in our musical tastes. We delved into the British Invasion together, we delved into hippie music together, we delved into anything modern together. There wasn’t much we disagreed on. I knew it wasn’t a sustainable model, that his having a record I loved would eventually be a problem if I didn’t get it too. But, because we lived together for five years, there were many records I never bought because he had them, and vice versa. For example, The Byrds’ “Fifth Dimension” — I didn’t own that on vinyl until last week, despite it being one of my all-time all-time favorites. Once he was gone, I had it on tape, and then later on CD, and that was sufficient, until it wasn’t.
But there was a time when he went out of the bubble and came back contaminated with new musical influences. He spent a summer in Boston in 1981(?) and came back drenched in New Wave, bringing back records I’d never heard of, music we would never have discovered in Syracuse. Four Out of Five Doctors, Paul Collins’ Beat, The Only Ones . . . and Fingerprintz. A Scottish band that you can call some sort of new wave ska post-punk, they sounded like nothing else that was out there at the time … dark, screaming guitars over a thumping rhythm, dancey and a little edgy. I love this record, though it’s their next one that really sends me.
The first copy of 1979’s “The Very Dab” that I got, probably at Syracuse’s Desertshore Records, was surprisingly scuffed up for a record that wasn’t yet three years old. The jacket was more beat up than the disc, but still. So eventually I bought a second, probably at Modern Records (judging by the color sticker still on the jacket) which was also not pristine. At some point I bought yet a third, which was, again, not pristine. So I have three copies of “The Very Dab,” and now that I have a pretty spectacular stylus, they all sound just fine. I believe there is one other record I have three copies of, for different reasons.
A debut album, this has some songs that are better than others, but the promise is definitely there. It will pay off with their next record.
“Tough Luck” was also issued as a single, for which I have a picture sleeve that I have always enjoyed. The B side is another track called “Detonator” featuring their original vocalist, Step Lang, who was out of the band by the time the album was put together.