Saturday, December 3, 2016

RECORD REVIEW: Enuff Z'nuff "Clowns Lounge"

Enuff Z'nuff
Clowns Lounge
Frontiers Music 

The music of Enuff Z'nuff beams
joy and happiness into my soul.
It always has. Argh! It's times like
this, when really regret posting
my year-end "Top Ten Records"
feature too early in the season. 

Contrary to (possible) widespread speculation, Enuff Z'nuff is not an '80s band although they did arrive on the international music scene during that era. They've never been a "hair band" either despite being packaged and marketed as one early on. Nor are they an "arena" band — yet their songs have always possessed a signature-style hypnotic hookiness. Actually, I believe the band can best be described stylistically as Cheap Trick-meets-Elvis Costello at a midnight showing of Magical Mystery Tour. And for longtime die-hards such as myself, the latest release from this crunchy Chicago-based power / pop / rock combo is a particular treat.

Released on December 2, 2016 via Frontiers Music, Clowns Lounge is a treasure trove of vintage Enuff Z'nuff material written and demoed during the band's early unsigned days  culled from "the vaults," re-worked, produced properly and served up hot & fresh as a fantastic "new" record. 

Given the time frame in which the songs were first created, the band's four original members bassist and patriarch Chip Z'Nuff, guitarist Derek Frigo, drummer Vik Foxx and frontman / vocalist Donnie Vie all make appearances on the record — and you can hear it in the grooves. But with the tracks having all been re-tweaked recently, Z'nuff's current line-up of guitarists Tony Fennell and Tory Stoffregen and drummer Erik Donner are also squarely in the mix.

The infectious, guitar-driven collection opens with one of the record's newly-created tunes — the psychedelic-sounding and seemingly "(I'm not Your) Steppin' Stone"-inspired, "Dog on a Bone." With Z'nuff at the helm, providing lead vocals, this one makes for quite a snappy kick-off. Another satisfying surprise is "Devil of Shakespeare." Recorded originally around 2004, it features Warrant's late frontman, Jani Lane on vocals, as well as Styx co-founder, James Young on lead guitar.

But make no mistake, Clowns Lounge IS a bona fide, authentic Enuff Z'nuff record. And in that regard, "Runaway," "Back in Time," "Good Luv" and "Backstreet Kids" stand out as the brightest treasures of this 12-gem chest  capturing EZ in all their classic era glory.

In sum, Clowns Lounge is far and away one of the year's most appealing offerings — one that I can't recommend highly enuff. A+

-Christopher Long
(December 2016)

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