FINGERPRINTZ – Beat Noir – (Virgin) – 1981

This is Scottish new wave apparently.


I haven’t heard their earlier albums but this, their third and last album, is new wave but taking the genre as far as it can go without leaving it, and not in a good way.


Allmusic: Formed by Scottish-born singer/guitarist Jimmie O’Neill in 1978, the ‘Printz slowed down punk’s careening guitar rock, adding clever, rhythmic twists and turns, and offering up deftly written stories about lust, angst, and urban desolation.


The band has a positive critical reputation but this album is, to my ears, just hard to listen to.


I cringe whenever reggae enters onto punk, as it inevitably does in English punk, and as it does here. Why ? Possibly because English music is looking for it’s own authentic roots but the sounds just don’t gel well…together they are neither here nor there. How do you get both adrenaline (punk) and pot (reggae) to live harmoniously with each other?


On this album a funkier reggae back beat, heavy bass lines, horns and occasional slowed down disco beats all seem at odds with the angst, urban dislocation, paranoia and film noir themes.


“Beat Noir” probably is a good title for the album though, when you think about it.


I suppose it is post punk or art punk but ultimately a lot of it sounds like Yazoo for grown-ups  without the catchy tunes. If the album were a little happier and poppier it could pass for INXS.




I don’t deny there is something here – I just don’t like it and it reminds me a lot of bands in Brisbane (at least) that embraced English post punk (and were played on the local community radio station 4ZZZ) and were very, very dull.


Tracks (best in italics)


  • The Beat Escape   – New Wave disco? Is it possible? Should it be allowed? A good example of the English making something trivial but arguably fun (disco), worse.
  • The Chase   – that chase went on forever or felt like it.
  • Catwalk   – Why, why do I do this to myself?
  • Changing  – hmpff.
  • Get Civilised   – Bad hairdresser music, for hairdressers from the 1980s.
  • Shadowed   – a dash of Blondie and a dash of Roxy Music with a sprinkle of Talking Heads which turns jazzy half way through. Novel and pretty good.
  • Touch Sense   – filler
  • Echohead – a tribal beat going through the song makes it a little interesting even though this is a variation on what Adam and the Ants had done the year previous.
  • Going, Going, Gone  – filler
  • Famous Last Words – some nice Ribot-esque guitar amongst the dance beats.

And …


Perhaps I was too flippant with this album but it was a hard slog for me. Clearly it’s not my cup of tea …. sell.


Chart Action




1982  The Beat Escape  Dance Music/Club Play Singles #24









The Beat Escape


The Chase






Get Civilised



Video clip

and attached

Fingerprintz – Shadowed 


Touch Sense


Going, Going, Gone











  • Wikipedia: Before forming The Silencers, vocalist Jimme O’Neill and guitarist Cha Burns were active in London‘s new wave music scene. O’Neill wrote songs for Paul Young and Lene Lovich, while Burns played guitar in Adam Ant’s backing band during 1982-1984 together with Fingerprintz drummer Bogdan Wiczling. O’Neill, who, in the mid 1970s, had worked for a time as a clerical assistant in the Department of Health and Social Security, released a single for Oval Records in 1975, "Achin’ in My Heart"/"Cold on Me", under the name Jimme Shelter (a throwback to the song, "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones).
  • 2 of the guys went into the Silencers.

About Franko

Hi, I'm just a person with a love of music, a lot of records and some spare time. My opinions are comments not reviews and are mine so don't be offended if I have slighted your favourite artist. I have listened to a lot of music and I don't pretend to be impartial. You can contact me on though I would rather you left a comment. I also sell music at Cheers
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6 Responses to FINGERPRINTZ – Beat Noir – (Virgin) – 1981

  1. Carl says:

    Reggae and punk…very interesting. Weren’t Elvis Costello, The Specials and the Clash borrowing heavily? New York punk (CBGB style) seems unaffected by reggae. Broad statements, I know, but generally true

    • admin says:

      Yes, those bands and others borrowed from reggae and ska ( the precursor to reggae). Interestingly, apart from those bands with integrated line ups (and even then possibly) most of the Enslish new wave ska /reggae groups (who were white) were making a conscious decision to incorporate elements of black ska / reggae. It wasnt as if they had grown up with that music and it had enetered their subconcious unlike,say, the first wave of US white rock ‘n’ rollers from the South who heard black R&B in their youth.

      • newjerseynoise says:

        Reggae and ska actually was a very big part of the UK punk scene and British culture in general. England had a very large West Indian population and still does. They therefore brought elements of their culture with them in the 60s including the music. By the time the late 70s came around Jamaican music was a part of the pop culture. During the late 60s and early 70s Jamaican singles were hitting number one on the national pop charts which continued well into the 70s and when the ska revival began bands like The Specials, The Beat, Bad Manners, Madness, and The Selecter were hitting number one in the charts as well. Jamaican music for a while was kind of like Motown was/is here in America and labels like Trojan, Island and Doctor Bird were at the forefront not only releasing Jamaican records domestically but also producing their own homegrown material by Jamaican expatriate like Laurel Aitken, Symarip, The Cimarrons etc.

        To add the its relevance in the punk scene, a lot of the punk musicians in the first wave of British punk were interested in reggae already but during the early punk shows there were relatively few punk records to play in between bands so Don Letts spun his reggae records bringing it to the punk fans as well who might not have already been into it.

        The music never REALLY caught on in America with only a handful of tunes breaking into the charts during the 60s and 70s and the only one really remembered still today is I Can See Clearly by Johnny Nash who was American himself. That would be why it didn’t permeate the American punk like it did in America though a lot of bands did incorporate it including early NYC hardcore bands The Stimulators and Murphy’s Law, Bad Brains and Scream from D.C. and The Offs in California.

        • Franko says:


          Good comment and you are 100% right.

          I recall the scene you are talking about. Over here (Brisbane, Australia) the independent music scene was largely under the sway of what was happening in England and we had our fair share of ska and two tone bands which were modelling themselves on the Stiff label bands. So, our sounds were more about fashion rather than as a result of any significant migration of minorities. Also, we were a couple of years behind England I suppose so that sound was alive and well in 1983 or thereabouts. The trouble was I just wasn’t into that sound … especially later when it morphed into skinhead oi music. By that stage I had hair past my collar, and getting longer, so there was always danger when going to concerts or venues. The scene was so small that many different “tribes” would converge on the same places.

          Nationally I think only The Allnighters and Strange Tenants had any chart exposure as ska type bands.

          Reggae I don’t recall making any major inroads into the local punk sounds though there were more than a few punk types with dreadlocks, so I could be wrong. I do recall a couple of Australian Aboriginal bands (Coloured Stone and No Fixed Address) adopting reggae stylings which was unusual at the time as most Aboriginal bands had country sounds.

          I do recall sitting through a double bill of something like “Rough Cut and ready Dubbed” ( a punk doc from England, late 70s) and one of Bob Marley’s live concert docos in about 1984 or 1985. The live concert killed any interest in I had in reggae, which admittedly wasn’t much. Likewise, I didn’t have any interest in ska.

          The nail in the coffin was The Clash’s “Sandinista” album which I didn’t get until the mid 80s. I was never big on The Clash ( I preferred The Damned, Subhumans and Stiff Little Fingers, who had their “reggae” moments and then later I discovered The Soft Boys), but that album (if I recall it correctly) had some reggae, dub, blue beat sounds and that album just confirmed my dislike of the style. (I saw a doco on Don Letts a lot later and it is clear he was instrumental on the introduction of reggae to English punk but that just ruined the sound for me).

          You are right about the influence on those NYC and DC punk bands but by then (at that time) I was listening to the paisley underground and California hardcore.

          Accordingly, I was probably a little harsh on this “Fingerprintz” album but it’s not something I can get into, though I don’t think this album shows the style in it’s best light.

          I love the Johnny Nash song (Nash will appear on this blog sooner or later as I have about 3 of his albums in the pile behind me) and I saw a spectacular live version of the song in 1994 in LA. I was there with a couple of other Australian friends doing “the great American road trip” and we rocked up to a place called Jack’s Sugar Shack (or something like that) on Sunset Strip and saw Harry Dean Stanton on stage. He sang the guts out of “I Can See Clearly Now” though his version was distinctly country and southern with not a hint of reggae. We were the only guys watching him play, everybody else was playing pool! Slightly drunk and on a high (Harry Dean Stanton!!!!) we chanted and cheered and he sang the song 4 times for us.

  2. newjerseynoise says:

    It's interesting to hear about this stuff from Australian ears since you don't hear too much about Australian music and scenes here in America. Besides loving Rose Tattoo, Radio Birdman and Mad Max as a teenager I didn't ever hear anything about subculture in Australia until I met an Australian lady at a ska show here in NYC a few years back who gave me a Strange Tennants CD.


    I can't say I agree with your opinions but I'm a long time fan of Jamaican music, a ska musician and a pretty big Clash fan (who LOVES Sandanista) but that's what music is all about: discussing it with people who disagree with you completely and having a good time while you do it!


    It's been fun reading your blog I found it while I was googling this album in particular being a Stiff Records nut and having just found a copy the other day.


    I'll definitely be back.


    And by the way, that's awesome about Harry Dean Stanton. Repo Man is one of my favorite movies of all time!

    • Franko says:

      I don’t really know what other people know about the Australian music scene of the 80s. It certainly has not been the subject of American or even Australian films. Well, there was “Dogs in Space” but that was more interesting than successful.

      We here in Brisbane did have (circa 1974) The Saints, one of the first punk bands in the world and who were around the same time as The Ramones and Rocket from the Tombs …and that was at least a full year (maybe two) before anything remotely punk was coming out of England.

      Rose Tattoo are thought of as a ‘pub rock” band over here and not highly regarded, even though pub rock was quite rough and abrasive. Certainly it was harder than its English counterparts. If you like them then you may like The Angels, The Ted Mulry Gang, The Radiators, Cold Chisel, The Sports, Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons – all pub rock (as was AC/DC earlier on) , though some were more retro than others.

      Radio Birdman are legends over here (I saw them after they reformed but i saw the New Christs quite a bit way back when) and influenced a generation of guitar bands in the 80s like The Screaming Tribesmen (Brisbane), Exploding White Mice (Adelaide), The Hitmen (Melbourne), The Girlies (Brisbane), The Hard Ons (Sydney), The Celibate Rifles (Sydney) etc etc. Also The Scientists, Beasts of Bourbon, The Triffids, The Go Betweens, Blue Ruin, The Johnnys, The Dubrovniks, The Cruel Sea, Nunbait, Custard, Hoodoo Gurus, The Headstones, The Birthday Party, Nick Cave, The Sunnyboys, The Stems, The Moffs are worth checking out for quirky rock and / or quirky pop.  80s Australia had a vibrant alternative, indie music scene. I also love the Skyhooks who have nothing in common with any of the above.

      By the way The Saints lived less than a mile away from where I’m writing right now.

      Jamaican music – I love Harry Belafonte but I’m sure you are not talking about him. I did go through a very short Jimmy Cliff phase (I listened to “Cliff Hanger” a lot when it came out).

      I won’t change your mind about the Clash and you won’t change mine but I will say this …..I really want to like the Clash more than I do. They had great musical taste (especially Strummer), had some great sounds, had their image down pat and were smart. But ….. somewhere they lose me and leave me cold, or annoyed.

      I’m never sure why Americans get into English music. My wife is on some sort of a forum where all these Americans worship 80s crappy new romantic and shoegaze bands from England. Why?  Is it because it’s marginal and “alternative” in the US? To my taste American music has so much more to offer (even though my favourite artist after Elvis (Presley not Costello) is The Kinks). After all, most of the music started in the US. The other reason I have a general antipathy for English music is that the English press are usually quite condescending to Australian music (and generally everyone else’s music). Maybe you have tougher skins over there but you have had a revolution and are a republic, and we are not, if you know what i mean. Even freaking Canada, still a part of the commonwealth, has it’s own flag.

      Repo Man is good but Paris Texas is pretty special also.

      Stiff records were pressed locally over here. English music, even the smaller acts had a reasonable impact over here. Check out my shop for Stiff label stuff. There should be some stuff in there and I should be adding more to the shop in the future.

      Glad you like the blog but you will find things I say depend on how late, tired, and / or drunk I am. So be patient. After all it’s just my taste.

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