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Enuff Z'Nuff - Greatest Hits (But Maybe Not The Greatest Legacy)
If Enigma wasn't already taken by another musical performer, then it would be fitting for the good ol' boys in Enuff Z'Nuff to change their name to that. Enuff Z'Nuff's career has always been puzzling and somewhat difficult to understand. Yes, it's been an Enuff Z'Nuff enigma. Oh, such alliteration!
Enuff Z'Nuff's Greatest Hits is available now. One listen to the 1-2-3-4 punch of the first four songs ("New Thing," "Fly High Michelle," "Mother's Eyes" & "Baby Loves You") might just leave the average listener slightly bewildered. The question is - why weren't these songs anywhere near a genuine hit single? Now I don't mean just some song lurking in the bottom of Billboard's Top 100 for a few weeks. I mean heavy MTV rotation and Top 40 radio airplay. Did the band's initial appearance convince their potential audience that (at least at first glance) Enuff Z'Nuff was just another Poison/Warrant/Slaughter/Winger-esque group? Sure, the hair was teased high and the lips were more than just slightly glossy. The shine might have blinded an albino. Is there a scarier sight to behold than Chip Z'Nuff's pursued lips? I think not! Okay, well maybe there is. Enuff Z'Nuff first image is not nearly as grotesque as a Sally Struther's hosted infomercial or a live autopsy. And every musical era has a certain look that is relevant to the times. Late 1960's hippies wore tie-dye. Disco revelers twirled in sparkling bellbottoms. The original punks had green hair (but no Green Day). New wavers bopped around in pointy shoes. Grungers wore their flannel proudly. And today's music scene wears its banality on its sleeve. So what if the late 80's rockers adopted what they considered charming androgyny? It certainly got Motley Crue laid!
I'd like to believe that - in a perfect musical world - the songs, and not just the fashion, should be remembered the most. Sadly, sometimes this is just not true. Unless your name is Springsteen.
Casting all image issues aside, Enuff Z'Nuff's main strengths can be found in the songs culled from the band's first three releases (Enuff Z'Nuff, Strength & Animals With Human Intelligence). Lead guitarist Derek Frigo has nimble fingers and tasteful phrasing. The prettiest male drummer in the world, Vikki Foxx, pounds the skins and pounds well (insert tasteless prison gang-bang joke here). Chip holds a solid bottom groove, while Donnie Vie does his best Elvis-Costello-fronting-Van-Halen (with Cheap Trick writing the songs) impression. Enuff Z'Nuff has more than solid tunes, Badfinger-like melodies, and did not shy away from their influences nor sound like a majority of the other groups from the era. The gang-style backing vocals that were popular with so many are not evident in the choruses. By the way, who wrote in all the 80's hard rock production manuals that said all choruses had to sound like 900 people singing backstage? Make a few minor tone/effects changes in Enuff Z'Nuff's guitar sound, and many of the early songs would not be so out of place today. Dammit folks, if friggin' Nelson could have a few big hits, then Enuff Z'Nuff should have had four (from here on out we'll call this the 4:1 Nelson ratio). First (or one of the first) manager Herbie Herbert (Santana, Journey, Mr. Big, Roxette) - a man that knew how to work songs and catalog (by his own admission) - just couldn't or didn't push the right industry buttons. But who says that you can win them all? Even a .300 hitter makes an out 7-out-of-10 times.
Enuff Z'Nuff's Greatest Hits illustrates that even though genres and fads have come and gone, the essence of the band (good hooks and melody) has basically stayed true. Tell me with a straight face that "There Goes My Heart" is not a real toe-tapper. I just dare you! Enuff Z'Nuff never really sold out their sound to what was "hip" (in this case, the grunge sound), although "Stoned" and "My Heroin" (which really never should be on Greatest Hits in the first place) do have that era's overtones. Okay, maybe they tuned down a little bit - but who didn't? And "Stoned" does have a great chorus.
Besides a slight grunge factor on a few tracks, is there a downside to Greatest Hits? Yes, but it's not fatal. Most of the songs selected can be classified as Enuff Z'Nuff by the numbers. A majority of the chosen tracks are probably what the band considers logical choices for their singles and videos. While most of these tracks are strong, the collection as a whole does not fully illustrate the true depth of the band as a whole. Yes, they are better than just their blatantly obvious commercial tracks. When Enuff Z'Nuff rocks, they RAWK! A few harder numbers ("Superstitious," "Heaven and Hell," "Long Way Home") and/or maybe one or two unreleased numbers would make this a must have compilation. However, if you have always been just a bit curious about Enuff Z'Nuff, or perhaps have just seen them on VH-1 Classic, then Greatest Hits is the place to start. And for most people, this is probably the only CD to own.
Summary: Not quite as deep as the import/indie hits collection Favorites, but not exactly as obvious as any $9.99 Essentials disk or Guns N Roses Greatest Hits. This is a good buy for the casual fan, or anybody that is curious about Enuff Z'Nuff.
Enuff Z'Nuff is getting ready to tour with all woman 80's rockers Vixen, which is probably best known for "Edge of a Broken Heart (co-penned by unusually coifed Richard Marx and The Tubes' Fee Waybill)." Original singer Donnie Vie has not performed with the band in some time - with the exception of a recently filmed VH-1 special. Does it really matter?
Filling ol' Donnie's shoes has been guitar player Johnny Monaco. Monaco has been playing with Enuff Z'Nuff in the lead guitar fashion for some time now. Although it would be nice if most of the original Enuff Z'Nuff could still play together (Derek Frigo has unfortunately passed), with Monaco the band sounds better than ever. Donnie Vie tended to take a few cues from the Axl Rose Tortured Artist School, and his performances began to suffer. Enuff Z'Nuff is tighter, and more powerful live, than ever.