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Enuff Z’nuff: Never Enuff

While I continue to enjoy the output from enduring US power-pop rockers Enuff Z’nuff, it says much that I nearly knocked my laptop over when I discovered that this latest release from the band (or whoever has really sanctioned this set) is a forty song romp through their pre-1989 debut album demos. Enuff Z’nuff should have been huge, after all melding Beatles melodies to something altogether more late 80s rock n’ roll should have been perfect for the times, but even pre-grunge, the touch paper never quite lit for the band. Maybe the dayglo clothing and make-up never helped, nor the teased beyond belief hair, but these guys could play, and while Donnie Vie’s ever so slightly nasally tones might not have been to everyone’s taste, he sure was a charismatic vocal presence perfect for this band.

The late 80s and early 90s are packed with shoulda, coulda, woulda stories and in the grand scheme of things, Enuff Z’nuff did alright for themselves. However, for many it is still the band’s early albums where the magic resides and it was with that thought that I tried not to get too carried away with the notion of so many more songs from around this time. This set, which comes as a three CD pack, or four disc psychedelic coloured vinyl extravaganza, is split into three sessions, McNulty’s Basement, Prairie Street and Longwood Towers, but oddly, while these were indeed the three locations these demos were recorded, from what I’ve read, the songs have been re-ordered to improve their flow, so that those CD headings don’t actually contain all of the songs recorded in those locations… While, as you’d pretty much expect I suppose, the recording standards are rough and ready and quite variable throughout.

For fans of this outfit, these minor niggles really are thoroughly unimportant and I have to say that getting the opportunity to whisk back in time with the band as they hone their craft and cement their sound is a real treat. I mean, not everything’s a winner, “Just What You Want” sounding just a little too much like an Elvis Costello cast-off, while “Girl Crazy” is exactly the sort of fluff its title suggests. Hold on tight to “Never Let You Go”, however, and you have a proper thumping heartbreaker that you know would have set the live stage alight. Add in the low slung “Say It Ain’t So” and its clever pop hooks, and “Tears Away”, which straddles that Beatles/Cheap Trick line this band trod so well, and while you do have to adjust your hearing at times due to the recording standards, there’s a lot to like here. I mean, surely “I Want It Back” must have been close to consideration for a proper album release?

The shimmering “Temporarily Disconnected” ain’t far behind, the swagger-stagger of this band perfectly in place, before “Higher” adds some melodic rock guitar lines to a sugary chorus and comes out a winner. “Million Miles Away” possibly takes that blueprint a little too far, as it heads for the more obvious sound of the time that this band nearly always avoided, but there’s still something about it that sticks in the mind, although it’s more the sonic issues that stop “Tossed In My Face” from reaching as far as it might. “Will You Remember” adds a real maturity to proceedings as it cleverly refuses to move out of the slower situation that makes it so enigmatic, whereas “Valentine”, which does fuse some slower moments to a rougher riff proves that both approaches can work. At the other end of the scale, “The Real Thing” spits with controlled fury, even if its electronic drum swoosh becomes more than a little annoying in places, although “Enough’s Enough” just doesn’t quite get going.

Which is definitely not an accusation that can be aimed at “Still Lovers”, which powers along, although “Somewhere Else For Me” is, again, a little too close to the Elvis Costello approach for comfort. When stacked up against the gyrating guitars and stacked vocals of “Look What You Do”, it comes out second best as the latter almost adds a little late 70s KISS to the mix. “Cupid’s Laughing” maybe wouldn’t have been out of place on a Winger album - no bad thing I may add - what with its little guitar forays and clever melody, although “How Does It Feel” promises much without ever really delivering.

As you’d expect from any 40 song demo set there are a whole number of ups and downs as you take in these early recordings. However, as a long term fan of this band, the good massively outweighs the bad and while only one or two songs really stand out to the extent that you wonder why they got left behind, with a little more time spent on them and better sonics, quite a few more could have forced themselves into that bracket.

Scoring a release like this is tough. In all honesty, I can’t rank it higher than 3.5/5 on the basis that Never E’nuff is a lo-fi collection being sold at full release prices… And yet, these type of sets are only ever going to appeal to a band’s hardcore fanbase and in that light, this is a great set that I can see any dedicated Enuff Z’nuffer spending hours and hours getting to know.


Track Listing
DISC 1: McNulty’s Basement
1. Bye Bye Love
2. I Won’t Forget
3. Say It Isn’t So
4. Girl Crazy
5. Tears Away
6. New Night Tonight
7. Just What You Want
8. Love On Your Mind
9. I Want You Back
10. Never Let You Go
11. Everyone Says No
12. I Can’t Get Over You


DISC 2: Prairie Street
1. Temporarily Disconnected
2. The Real Thing
3. Number One
4. Higher
5. Enough’s Enough
6. Why Does It Have To End
7. Million Miles Away
8. Misery
9. Soldier’s Story
10. Valentine
11. Tossed In My Face
12. Maybe Someday
13. Fallin’ In Love
14.Will You Remember
15. 1, 2, 3


DISC 3: Longwood Towers
1. Crazy Night
2. Still Lovers
3. Somewhere Else For Me
4. Help
5. Holdin’ Out 4 More
6. Yesterday’s Gone
7. How Does It Feel
8. I Don’t Mind
9. So Fine
10. Cupid’s Laughing
11. Tara Nichole
12. No Girl Of Mine
13. Look What You Do

Added: August 21st 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Enuff Z'nuff @ CleoRecs
Hits: 1015
Language: english

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