Enuff Z’Nuff – “Clowns Lounge” (Frontiers Music)
While stadium rock and hairspray bands were raging from coast to coast, Enuff Z’Nuff exploded outta the mid west with their own brand of ‘power pop’. Soon signed to major labels and a regular on MTV, the band were lumped (much to their consternation) into the glam bucket, which ultimately led to founder singer Donnie Vie departing for a solo career in 2002. The band continued in various forms, still recording and touring until his return in 2006 with founder bassist Chip Z’Nuff, only to depart for health reasons in 2013, although he remains a part of the band, with Chip now handling his duties with his blessing. “Clowns Lounge” is a particularly special release being their first album in 6 years without Donnie, although the material has been penned by him and Chip – back in 1988-89 to be specific! Yes, this is a previously unreleased collection of rarities and early demos during the recording of their self titled 1989 debut now partially reworked and completed by today’s band but still featuring the performances of Vie, as well as the line up at the time of guitarist Derek Frigo and drummer Vikki Foxx. Needless to say it’s an awesome record – if anything for the classic material that was the band in the early days! It showcases the ‘power pop’ that Vie felt could’ve been a success in its own right – and why not when you’ve got the hugely catchy pop melodies backed by the balls out rock on ‘She Makes It Harder’ to the addictive but laid back groove of ‘Backstreet Kids’ that soon gives way to some volcanic guitar wailing out the number. But the standout track has to be ‘The Devil Of Shakespeare’, originally recorded around 2004 and featuring a haunting guest performance from the late Jani Lane of Warrant as well as some moving guitar work from Styx’s James Young bringing an almost Beatles feel during their psych era, complete with trippy harmonies and organ – very emotive indeed for all the memories and reason in itself to buy the album, although in truth all 12 tracks are a must have for any diehard Enuff Z’Nuff fan.