Enuff Z’Nuff were once one of melodic rock’s greatest bands. Their first three albums are almost perfect distillations of AOR, power pop and glam, all wrapped in an oversized tye dye bubble. The band celebrated a brightly coloured world at a time when such things were in danger of being unfashionable, and their Cheap Trick meets Elvis Costello meets Poison sound made them square pegs in round holes, but in terms of crafting a melodic hook, the Chip Z’Nuff and Donnie Vie songwriting team were second to none.
A little over twenty years on from their classic ‘Strength’ album, Enuff Z’Nuff are a band largely trading off a well known name. As proved by their ‘Brainwashed Generation’ album from 2020, that doesn’t mean that Chip and his faceless hired hands aren’t capable of knocking out a decent tune or four, but that’s just it. Enuff Z’Nuff albums have long felt like a “knocked out” product rather than a work of art. A few good songs are propped up by second rate material and covers – occasionally even leftovers – in the name of a new record. They’ve lost the craftsmanship and consistency of old. Not to mention most of the production values.
Following the release of ‘Diamond Boy’ in 2018, Enuff Z’Nuff began going through the motions, churning out music that often felt very much like a Chip Z’Nuff project, with the band augmented by some musicians that have little to no real claim on the EZ’N legacy. With that in mind, it isn’t immediately clear why 2022’s ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ should be a marketed Chip Z’Nuff solo album and not just another product from the seemingly never ending EZ’N production line. Chip obviously has other ideas, though, and clearly views the material on the album as being somehow different from his day job.
When Enuff Z’Nuff first appeared on the scene in the late 80s, they were very much the poster children for a bygone age. At a time when so many of the big haired bands were promoting sleaze, Chip Z’Nuff, Donnie Vie and their bandmates were flaunting a tye-dye aesthetic and an almost sub-Beatles like peace and love mentality. It was a move that, although unfashionable at the time, really worked for them. They became brief stars on MTV and gained very enthusiastic press on both sides of the Atlantic. After losing theur first major label deal after releasing the excellent ‘Animals With Human Intelligence’, they bounced from label to label, creating albums in a patchwork style from different sources, and although none of the subsequent releases would garner the kind of attention the debut and 1991’s ‘Strength’ had deservedly brought, Enuff Z’Nuff managed to retain a loyal fanbase.
Enuff Z’Nuff have never been shy of digging up old recordings in the name of a new release. The band began their “patchwork” approach to making albums as far back as 1996 when their sixth release ‘Peach Fuzz’ was constructed from material that wasn’t considered suitable for their 1994 album ‘Tweaked’ and then fleshed out with a couple of b-sides from 1991. In the case of that album, the old-for-new approach could be easily forgiven, since all of the material was first rate. ‘Peach Fuzz’, against the odds, rivals 1991’s ‘Strength’ as EZ’N’s finest hour.
It’s that time of year again when Real Gone takes stock of all of the great music that’s been sent our way over the last twelve months. Changes in how people consume their music has meant shifting from providing a free download to offering an album length stream, but the variety and quality of the new music remains very high.