The Suicide Commandos were the first Minneapolis punk band to release an album (1978), but there were a lot of other strong local groups active in the two years before the Replacements, Hüsker Dü and Soul Asylum finally summoned an indie rock spotlight on the city. Also in ’78, Twin/Tone Records, Minneapolis’s first important local label, bowed with a trio of 7-inch EPs, by the Spooks, Fingerprints and the Suburbs (who went on to release a bunch of albums). As in other America Underground scenes, Fingerprints were a band who should have made albums but didn’t—until now. Where the Beat Goes On documents the long-gone quintet with two dozen tracks recorded between ’77 and ’79, more than half of them previously unheard.
For a band that remained little known outside its hometown, Fingerprints made forceful, fast, diverse and forward-sounding music. With respectable songwriting and solid musicianship (including occasional sax and keyboards), augmented here by a dynamic 2022 remix, they offer high-energy rock and roll of the sort Eddie and the Hot Rods (“Kind Affection”) and the Damned (“Don’t Wanna Talk”) were making around the same time, piercing Ziggy sci-fi (“Now I Want to Be a Space Girl”), mock-Bowie dance-funk (“Down”), hard-edged power pop (“Illusions of Love”), surprising traces of the Stranglers’ gurgly organ sound (“Hey Johnny”), throat-shredding hardcore (“Nothing to Say”), a well-sung possible Top 40 hit (“Burn Those Bridges”), a blazing math rock instrumental (“You Have to Push Them Over”) and a tense, taut and tight Peter Gunn-styled workout (“Boogada Bigadus”) whose guitar part could have been the inspiration for Franz Ferdinand. Only “Young Love,” a sleazy boogie with a dollop of Roxy Music glam, and “I’m Wasted on You” are marred by overbearing baritone cock-rocky vocals.
The band went through several personnel changes during its existence. After it ended, guitarist Jeff Waryan continued on as an active musician, while three other alumni opened a studio, Blackberry Way, where a lot of the important records were cut, and a label of the same name.