These stalwarts of the 80’s hair metal scene always bring a smile to my face. Chances are you know Enuff Z’Nuff from their early MTV vid “Fly High Michelle” or the radio single “New Thing,” but this is a band that has been a music machine for more than 25 years since those songs broke.
The band has seen quite a few lineup changes over the years, but each and every release has seen the songwriting partnership of singer/keyboardist Donnie Vie and bassist Chip Z’Nuff, and this release is no different. Clowns Lounge was assembled from some of the band’s earliest recordings, and as I listen I really wonder how these songs didn’t see the light of day until now. They are brought out here with a sharp vitality and a clear sense of rebirth. Aside from the production quality being top notch, this is some of the strongest Enuff Z’Nuff material in the history of the band.
The album starts off with a brand new recording with Chip Z’Nuff fronting the band in the current absence of Vie, who is on hiatus to deal with some health issues. Enuff Z’Nuff has always been a band that has taken pop sensibility into their edgy classic rock roots with great success. This latest single, “Dog On A Bone,” is an excellent example of what the band is all about. Starting off with a dreamy vocal intro that is vaguely reminiscent of STP’s “Sex Type Thing” comes across like a subtle tribute to Scott Weiland. But, once that small intro stops, the power chords take off and lead to one of the band’s most driving songs in years. As the album progresses we get treated to Vie’s unmistakable vocal and the band’s unwavering sense of melody. Songs like “Round And Round,” “Backstreet Kids,” and “She Makes It Harder” are the blueprint for what so many 80’s bands were trying to achieve. Hook, melody, and edge are what this band lives and breathes on. Not too many can do sing-along choruses with sharp guitar riffs pulsing behind pop melodies quite like Enuff Z’Nuff. I think the songs that showcase those skills best are ”Rockabye Dreamland,” “Runaway” and “Back In Time”. If you’re not singing “Rockabye Dreamland” for weeks after hearing it, there’s something wrong with you. The damn thing should come with a warning sticker.
One of the most special tracks on this release comes by way of a song called “Devil Of Shakespeare”. It’s a great melodic song with a slower tempo reminiscent of Tom Petty’s “Into The Great Wide Open”, but it’s the featured artists that really make this a treasure. The song features late Warrant singer Jani Lane on vocals and an excellent guitar part from Styx guitarist James Young. The buildup in the song is spectacular, and I can’t help but think about how monumental this song would be if it was ever done with a full orchestra.It really is a song that would lend itself to that sort of makeover.
If you want to get a taste of 80’s melodic rock with something that sounds current and new, Clowns Lounge is for you. If you are a fan of the band’s older work and looking to get more songs like the ones you grew to love back in the day, Clowns Lounge is for you. If you’re someone that wants to spend the day with a smile on your face, Clowns Lounge is for you.
Never Enough Z'Nuff:
The Chip Z’Nuff Interview
Photo: Scott Itter
Chip Z'Nuff is a name that makes me think of an array of bright neon colors. It's a name that anyone growing up near Chicago in the 80's will remember. His band, Enuff Z'Nuff, was a local favorite of the club scene when they exploded internationally on MTV with their hit, "Fly High Michelle". The band's other single, "New Thing", was a hit on radio stations everywhere at the time, and Enuff Z'Nuff had forever cemented their name into the pavement of pop metal.
Fast forward more than 25 years and we not only find that the band is still together, but it may be pushing harder than ever before.
I had the opportunity to speak with Chip Z'Nuff just one day prior to the release of the band's latest album, Clowns Lounge, and I found his enthusiasm for music and life just as vibrant and colorful as it always has been. Listening to this interview you will hear a guy that's not even close to finishing a career. You'll hear a guy that's excited to be putting out new music for his fans. And, you'll hear a happy guy that can speak every color of the rainbow.
CLICK THE PLAY BUTTON BELOW TO LISTEN!!!
0 - 6:18 Chip discusses old friends and the early days at the
6:19 - 11:00 Chip talks about the latest record, Clowns Lounge.
11:01 - 13:02 Many bands are hesitant to releases new music
because people are streaming instead of buying
music nowadays. Was that a concern for you?
13:03 - 15:27 Donnie Vie appears on this album, just like every
other Enuff Z’Nuff album, but he is no longer touring
with the band because of health issues. Tell me how
Donnie is doing and what his role in the band is at
15:28 - 17:51 Is there one song from Clowns Lounge that you were
particularly excited to finish?
17:52 - 19:07 Mancow Muller, a Chicago disc jockey, is a co-writer on
the first single, “Dog On A Bone”. Tell me how that
collaboration came about.
19:08 - 20:28 If someone has never heard Enuff Z’Nuff and you
wanted to best represent the band with a song, what
song would you play for them?
20:29 - 23:06 Is there one particular gig in your career that is most
memorable for you?
23:07 - 23:59 Will we ever get an autobiography from Chip Z’Nuff?
24:00 - 26:36 The ZAP session that you did with former Frank Zappa
vocalist Ike Willis was a totally different style of
playing for you. What was that session like for you?
26:37 - 28:29 What would be the dream collaboration be for you?
28:30 - 29:35 Any regrets?29:36 - 32:04 What’s on Chip Z’Nuff’s bucket list?