Enuff Z'Nuff

Stoney / Spitfire Records, 1994


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Sometimes, listening to a band's first cries, especially when they've established a name and reputation for themselves, is a bit difficult. It's hard to put aside what you know about the band in the present and try to look at them through musical granny glasses.

That's kind of the position I'm in as I sit here in the Pierce Memorial Archives, listening to 1985 from Chicago-based rockers Enuff Z'Nuff. Musically, Chip Z'Nuff and crew were sound, but they had fully developed either their own sound or the mixture of Beatles and Cheap Trick influences that would shape their music down the road.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This disc - complete with liner notes written by one Howard Stern - originally was put out when the band was in limbo. They had just parted ways with Arista, and their future wasn't exactly clear. (Fortunately for them, things began looking rosy real quick.)

Even back then, there was a lot to praise in these first recordings (which were first released in 1994). Tracks like "Day By Day," "Marie," "I'll B The 1 2 Luv U" and "Goodbye, Goodbye" all show the talent that these guys had then... and still do. Donnie Vie's vocals are just as powerful, whether you're listening to the 11 tracks on this disc or Enuff Z'Nuff's most recent recordings.

Yet something about the band's sound does strike me as being - well, not odd, but different. Of course, this is that Enuff Z'Nuff still was searching for their own unique musical voice - something I wouldn't have expected them to have this early in their career. But the Cheap Trick influence also seems to be downplayed in their songwriting - that's probably more shocking to me.

1985 also has its share of guilty pleasures ("Catholic Girls", "Aroused")... but there are some clunkers as well. Their choice of cover tunes ("Tears Of A Clown") is questionable; by putting their own stamp on this song, a lot of the magic is quashed. Likewise, "No Second Time" and "Hollywood Squares" just don't have the same kind of fire as the top-notch material.

Credit should be given to the band, though, in regards to the uncredited bonus track "You Got A Hold Of Me". I hate wading through dead air on a CD to get to what usually ends up to be a studio outtake or a half-assed attempt at a song. Not only does Enuff Z'Nuff kick into the bonus immediately, but it's a fine song as well.

1985 is not an album for everyone; newcomers to the band might pick this up and wonder just what has happened to the band. Although it's a disc that's ideally geared towards the die-hard fans, this disc has enough on it to please most listeners.

Rating: B-

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Stoney / Spitfire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.