Enuff Znuff - 1991 Strength


ARTIST: Enuff Znuff
ALBUM: Strength
SERIAL: 7 91638-2
YEAR: 1991


LINEUP: Donnie Vie - lead vocals, guitars, keyboards * Derek Frigo - lead guitar * Chip ZNuff - bass * Vikki Fox - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Heaven Or Hell * 02 Missing You * 03 Strength * 04 In Crowd * 05 Hollywood Ya * 06 The World Is A Gutter * 07 Goodbye * 08 Long Way To Go * 09 Mothers Eyes * 10 Baby Loves You * 11 Blue Island * 12 The Way Home/Coming Home * 13 Something For Free * 14 Time To Let You Go



Enuff Z'Nuff emerged from Blue Island, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), founded by Donnie Vie (vocals, guitar & keyboards) and Chip Z'nuff (bass & vocals).

Enuff Z'Nuff were touted as the rightful heirs to their windy city heroes Cheap Trick and Off Broadway - thanks to their amazing talents for combining power pop melodies with a hard rock crunch.

Like their late '70s heroes, Enuff Z'Nuff took most of their inspiration from The Beatles - although you can hear touches of Pezband, The Raspberries, Badfinger and even Elvis Costello in their early work.

Formed in 1984, the band soon amassed an impressive local following. High Times covers, Letterman appearances and a rumored romance between Chip and Madonna (yes that Madonna.) followed and by the late 80's the group were on the verge of hitting big.

By 1989, Enuff Z'Nuff had released their major label debut, an impressive self-titled release on Atco Records. It spawned two top 40 hits with 'New Thing' and 'Fly High Michelle', both receiving healthy air play on MTV.

The group's dolled up appearance unfortunately lumped them in with the 'hair metal' scene at the time. This was unfortunate and eventually the pure idiocy by the record label executives at Atco would solidify this fact.

By 1991, it didn't matter that the band had toned down their image or that Rolling Stone called them 'The hot band of the year'. Enuff Z' Nuff, simply put, suffered from horrible marketing and eventually 'Strength' was sadly lost in the shuffle of the emerging grunge rock revolution.

Again this idiotic decision to market the band as a shoddy 'hair metal' act, undoubtedly cost Enuff Z'Nuff more than a few fans and album sales. Add this to the band's growing appetite for drugs, self destruction and infighting - Enuff Z'Nuff would sadly never recover.
Ironically, 'Strength' is the best album Enuff Z'Nuff ever recorded IMHO. The album would introduce an entirely deeper side to the band from it's debut - with lush string arrangements and chorused vocals contrasting perfectly.

Enuff Z Nuff fully demonstrating they could spew forth sharp, intelligent melodies becoming less of a 1980s metal act and an excellent power pop group not afraid to incorporate aggressive music into their sound.

The result is a disc full of tough, pop songs played by a band committed to the overall impact of every track here.

The Songs

Enuff Z'Nuff did in some ways stay in accordance with their 'hair metal' environment of the day, weaving a healthy dose of late 80's decadence and debauchery lyrically throughout.

Openers 'Heaven Or Hell' and 'Missing You' stick close to the formula of their debut (which is also a great record).

'Heaven Or Hell' starts off with some riff heavy guitar chords, but shifts quickly into an insanely melodic chorus that proves Enuff Z Nuff were light years away from glam/metal fluff acts like Tuff or Tigertailz.

The band strays even further from the 'hair metal' label with the title track, and things from here on out just keep getting better, with instrumentations sounding like they were taken from Brian Wilson's sandbox (thanks to the intoxicating use of strings and chugging keys).

Enuff Z' Nuff still rock out with racy gems like 'In Crowd' and 'The World Is a Gutter,' but relax into the beautiful ballad 'Goodbye'. The latter is reminiscent of The Raspberries at their best, starting out with piano and then exploding into loud drums and snarling guitars. Everything is used to emphasize the songs overall sound, with the expressive solo adding to the overall structure of this album highlight. That's because Chip and Donnie are amazing musicians; Donnie Vie's throaty vocals are good and their harmonies together are even better.

The songs that follow are power pop at it's finest: 'Blue Island', 'The Way Home/Coming Home' and 'Mother's Eyes'. Not a clunker in sight..

In Summary

'Strength' did not sell as well as the debut despite the release of videos for the singles 'Mother's Eyes' and 'Baby Loves You', as well as successful appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and Howard Stern Show.

Eventually the band filed bankruptcy and left Atco Records, but soon after was picked up by Clive Davis' Arista Records label for their 1993 AOR tinged album 'Animals With Human Intelligence'. This release, much like 'Strength,' received some critical acclaim, but ultimately failed commercially.

EZN have encountered many line up changes and setbacks since but have continued touring and recording up until the present, releasing albums on several indie labels, and finding a solid fan base in Japan.

Lead singer and songwriter Donnie Vie stopped touring with the group in 2002 to embark upon a solo career. Enuff Z'Nuff continued to tour in his absence as a power trio.

In 2004, former lead-guitarist Derek Frigo died from an apparent drug overdose at the age of 36. Also, long time drummer, Ricky Parent, lost his long time battle with cancer in October of 2007.

Recently, bassist Chip Z'Nuff and Donnie reunited and will perform a new version of Enuff Z'nuff at the Rocklahoma Music Festival in Pryor, Oklahoma on July 10, 2008, on the same bill as the same 80's 'hair bands' the group have been unfortunately lumped in with since day one.

All and all 'Strength' is up with the likes of Jellyfish, Wondermints and Material Issue as the essential power pop releases of the last 20 years IMO.

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