Enuff Z'Nuff

Spitfire Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


There are so many stories any concert-goer can tell about seeing a band live, being inspired to pick up their latest album, and discovering the band sounds better live than they do in the studio. That's the curse of rock and roll; more often than not, it's a living, breathing creature that you have to experience in the flesh in order to understand the magic surrounding it.

I've been fortunate to catch Enuff Z'Nuff live one time, in the intimacy of a small club in Mundelein, Illinois. (As much as I wish nothing but the best and greatest success for Chip Z'Nuff and crew, there's something to be said for seeing such a band so close up that they almost sweat on you.) While I've more often than not liked - oh, hell, loved - what Enuff Z'Nuff have created in the studio, there is something about their live show that makes you forget everything you heard on the record and just crave more from the stage.

Live is the kind of album that the diehard fans were probably desparately jonesing for... and while it's got some great stuff on it, Live doesn't quite capture Enuff Z'Nuff's on-stage magic as people probably hoped for. Then again, something like that can't be bottled (or, in this case, pressed into aluminum and plastic).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The biggest complaint anyone can have about this album is the track selection - namely, as hard as the band tries, they're gonna piss someone off by not including this song or that one. (My personal gripe? Where's "Stoned" from Tweaked? Killer fuckin' live song, man. I know first-hand.) But these kinds of complaints have to be taken with a grain of salt. Hell, Donnie Vie and crew could have recorded a triple-disc set, and someone would still be pitching a fit. Oh, well.

Selection-wise, Live isn't half bad, pulling the well-known tracks ("New Thing," "Fly High Michelle") in with the songs that the long-time fans will be drooling over ("Indian Angel," "Baby Loves You," "Social Disease"). The band even pays tribute to a strip club, Clown's Lounge, that I remember guys in the dorm talking about on "In The Groove". (Honestly, I never went there... only because I never was invited. Thanks, guys... and remember, you all now have wives, and I can name names. Bribes graciously accepted.)

If there's any tragic flaw to Live, it's that the listener often feels like they're just watching the wonderful madness unfold, and they never feel part of it. This is as much a limit of live albums in general as it is the shows these recordings were culled from. It almost feels like Enuff Z'Nuff was captured in mid-sized venues banging out the songs - and, as admitted before, they really sound at home in the bars, where the music is delivered one-to-one. Had this been recorded at a place like The Shack instead of House Of Blues, I tend to think the groove would be so incredibly hard it would smash through your living room wall.

One studio track, "Bring It On Home" (from the movie Jerry Maguire - hey, I finally have another reason to sit through that two-and-a-half-hour snoozefest!), is a strong effort from Z'Nuff and the boys, even if it's not quite their "A"-list material. (I've heard every commercial release from Enuff Z'Nuff, and I consider Chip Z'Nuff to be a friend, so forgive me if I set the bar for this band a little higher in terms of my personal expectations.) Did it belong on the soundtrack and not buried in the end credits? Yes on both counts.

Live is the kind of album you pick up to get an idea of what Enuff Z'Nuff is like on stage when they're not playing in your neck of the woods, or you can't wait for them to come back home to musically kick your ass. It's not quite up to the real thing, but it's not a bad alternative.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 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 Spitfire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.