One Word Review: Vintage
After their third release, Animals With Human Intelligence, Enuff Z'Nuff found themselves in various degrees of trouble. They were dropped from their label and lead guitarist, Derek Frigo had left the band. However, and most fortunately, they did not give up, but instead they dug into their extensive archive and released an album of older songs, hence the album title, on an independent label. Most of these songs were originally on the very first Enuff Z'nuff recording "Hollywood Squares" and as Chip would sometimes joke, the band had forgotten all about them until he one day found the master tapes holding up the end of his couch. The result is too good to have been forgotten.
Compared to the first three albums, the production is not as big and the songs have a more back to basics feel to them, which I guess is only natural. The album is filled with excellent guitar solos by Gino Martino, while B.W. Boeski pilots the drum sticks. The songs go straight to the point, yet the arrangements are often inventive. The most important thing is that these songs sparkle with life and they give the album an undeniable charm, which is timeless to me. 1985 is an album I can pull out whenever I want to get in a better mood, it works every time.
The opener Tears of a Clown, a Smokey Robinson cover song, is also my least favorite song on the album. After listening to the original, I must say that the band manages to put a big Enuff Z'nuff stamp on the song, enough to make it sound like one of their own, but still missing that special ingredient the other songs have. The song does however showcase the great Chip & Donnie harmonies.
A true charmer comes next with Catholic Girls. The most obvious element that sets the song apart from the rest is its distinct rhythm and after a few listens, I'm sure this song will haunt you for a long time. The happy, carefree vibe, makes it perfect listening on almost any occasion. Over time it has grown to be one of my favorite songs by the band and I consider it timeless.
Day By Day was an instant favorite of mine right from the first listen. Such simple music is made special by the unique tone and melody in Donnie's voice. He carries this song completely, aided by some invigorating guitar licks. The positive vibe flows from this classic rocker and it is a perfect example of Enuff Z'nuff's strength.
No Second Time is a slow moving ballad and it finds the right atmosphere from the first drum beats. Aided by feathery keys here and there, Donnie's emotional voice carries the song as he hits just the rigth vibe. The mood of the song fits perfectly with the agonized lyrics and a wonderful guitar solo adds extra emotion.
After pretty cool, or should I say uncool, introduction Hollywood Squares glides into a solid groove. It is a song with a distinct 80'ies feel to it. The short bridge provides a great segueway into the chorus.
To say that Fingers on it had me at Hello wouldn't be far from the truth. It opens with a delicious guitar melody that pops up several times during the song and goes into an extremely melodic verse. The guitar helps build up tension to the chorus, which is simple but infectous. The ending is a highlight and the melody evolves as Chip's bass rises in the sound like waves on a sandy beach. Interestingly you can hear this song in the movie Henry: Portrait of a serial killer.
The beginning to Aroused is a positive factor. It grabs the attention like only certain songs by Manowar do. Musically it is an uptempo rocker that will get you fired up and ready for action. My favorite moment is the way the song goes into the first verse, lead by a jumping bass line. I like it that way!
I'll B The 1 2 Luv U is the first in a duo of love songs that go from an excited in-love feeling to a depressed state of regret. I'll B The 1 2 Luv U is the positive factor and builds up a feeling of great anticipation. A line like "I've rented two new videos, I've got some candy for your nose" puts a nice twist on things. My personal highlight is the way Donnie sings "...to love you", which is so passionately phrased.
The second part of the duo, Goodbye, Goodbye has the nice contrasting element of being very positive musically, with a sing-a-long chorus and a good drive in the verses, while the lyrics are depressed and wallowing in self pity. It is a satisfying end to the album.
The hidden bonus track is a beautiful Donnie Vie ballad. One of his best. With an acoustic guitar and his voice as the main instruments, he goes straight for the heart and hits a bullseye. The song is known as both You got a hold of me and Valentine song. What can't be put into doubt is its quality. It stands as one of the best ballads Donnie has ever written. A perfect love letter to his girlfriend once upon a time and for everyone else, a timeless song that can be heard over and over.
The lyrics deal with love and partying in one form or another and the moods go from positive carefree attitude to seriously depressed on the turn of a note in Donnie's voice. This is one of the reasons why I hold Enuff Z'nuff in so high regard. They are able to transform their songs into recogniseable feelings, and no matter what mood you are in, they have a song to accompany you. This is a band with a unique therapeutic quality.
Other bonuses include liner notes by Howard Stern and a very funny inner cover. This collection of songs from the band's early years prove that you can never get enuff Z'nuff. 1985 is a bunch of classic songs that should be heard.
Written By Steen
Online: Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Fingers On It