ENUFF Z’NUFF – Never Enuff: Rarities & Demos

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.

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VINEGAR JOE – The Island Recordings 1972-1973

Formed from the ashes of Dada, a huge jazz/blues rock band featuring guitarist Pete Gage, vocalist Elkie Brooks and (latterly) Robert Palmer, Vinegar Joe rode on the coattails of the British blues movement, releasing three albums in the early 70s. Over the years, their recordings haven’t been the easiest to track down, despite Lemon Records reissuing ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Gypsies’ (1972) and ‘Six Star General’ (1973) on CD in 2003, before giving the 1972 debut the same loving treatment somewhat belatedly in 2008. Bringing the Vinegar Joe legacy back to the masses once again, ‘Finer Things: The Island Recordings (1972-1973)’ rounds up absolutely everything the short-lived band ever recorded in the studio and issues it in one place for the first time. Although they never recorded what you’d call “a perfect album” they came pretty close on two occasions, and this set shows off a great band, even though the studio recordings supposedly never captured the fire of their live shows. There are enough great tracks scattered throughout the three discs to potentially attract a new generation of fans.

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JACK RUSSELL’S GREAT WHITE – Great Zeppelin II: A Tribute To Led Zeppelin

There’s a lot of brilliant material to be found within the original Great White catalogue prior to their split in 2000. In fact, the run of albums released between 1987’s ‘Once Bitten’ and 1994’s ‘Sail Away’ resembles a body of work that’d make most rock bands very proud. Unfortunately, some of that greatness has since been overshadowed by legal wrangles and a complicated set up meaning there effectively became two bands operating under the Great White name. Looking beyond that, you’ll still find enjoyable tracks from both camps, and although hampered a little by vocal filters, the studio debut from Jack Russell’s Great White (‘He Saw it Comin’’, released via Frontiers Records in 2017) showed there was a lot of life left in the veteran vocalist.

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THE MORNING LINE – Yard Sale

Back in 2019, The Morning Line released their third album ‘North’. With its retro sound calling back to some of the 90s college rock greats, it was easy to draw parallels with the album’s best material and past classics by Buffalo Tom, Soul Asylum and Third Eye Blind. It became one of that year’s best DIY releases and gained praise from all seventeen people that actually heard it. A follow up single ‘Back On Earth’ appeared at the beginning of 2021, and although it showed off a more sedate side to the band with hints of ‘Behind The Sun’ era R.E.M. at its core, the same retro charms were more than present, cementing Stephen Smith’s reputation as a fine songwriter.

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CRUZH – Tropical Thunder

Cruzh’s self titled debut album (released by Frontiers Records in 2016) included a few great choruses and a couple of impressive Def Leppard-isms, but there wasn’t always much about its blend of AOR and melodic rock that stood out in a good way. The song writing was fine without ever being outstanding, but an over reliant on shiny vocal filters and a over-compressed production job basically killed any spark the material could have had. Nevertheless, the album received really strong praise from some online sources – proof that some AOR/melodic rock blogs will heap praise on anything within their remit in a desperate attempt to keep the 80s dream alive – and that seemed to be enough for the record label to keep Cruzh on their books.

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