Pros:Flawlessly written, produced and performed, band has matured in both subject and style.
Cons:Billy Corgan's guitar on "Everything Works" is absent (band re-released it on the album 10.
The Bottom Line: Every album Enuff Z'nuff has released has been critically acclaimed. Every single one. Now it's time for you to discover them, and they're at the top of their game here.
If you've never heard of Enuff Z'nuff, don't worry; you're not alone. If you're old enough to remember their 1989 debut during the death throes of glam rock, things have changed. A lot. Enuff Z'nuff have been playing and recording since then, but their style has matured with each new, critically acclaimed release. The band's abilty to write catchy melodies such as those found on that album's "Fly High Michelle" and "New Thing" has remained constant, though. 1999's Parahernalia (their ninth album) is ranked along with 1991's Strength as some of the best music they've ever recorded, and if you're a fan of guitar driven rock with pop-styled harmonies, you need to hear these guys. This is a great album with which to start.
Parahernalia is significant for several reasons; first it marked the band's debut on Spitfire Records, a move that was supposed to put them back in the public eye (and hopefully ear) where they belong. Second, and no doubt as a direct result of the first reason, it marked a return to stores for Enuff Z'nuff in communities where they hadn't appeared since their final major studio release, Animals With Human Intelligence, in 1993. Third, it marked a return to the original logo for the band; this is the equivalent of flipping the baseball cap around before the pitch, or putting those special sneakers on before the big race: it means some serious action is about to take place - and the listener is not disappointed.
Enlisting help from some of the Windy City's most well known axemen, singer Donnie Vie, bassist Chip Znuff, drummer Ricky Parent and guitarist Monaco create an album full of power, grace and texture. The band's usual influences are present, as ghosts of the Beatles and Cheap Trick fade in and out throughout the 14 tracks, but this time they aren't as easy to spot. It seems that Enuff Z'nuff have finally learned how to blend completely with their fore bearers into a new, cohesive sound that simultaneously manages to caress and assault the senses. That's not to say that all the tunes are complex; the simple, instantly hummable songs that have become EZN's trademark are here in the form of the Vie/Znuff penned compositions "Ain't It Funny", an aggressive pop tune about the the rut we all find ourselves in eventually, and "Invisible", a schizophrenic masterpiece that brings to mind early Styx.
It's hard to tell if the Styx sound is by accident or design; that band's guitarist James "JY" Young plays on "Invisible" and other songs on the disc. Also appearing are Smashing Pumpkins' founder Billy Corgan, and Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen (who, incidentally, does not contribute to the cover of his own "Everything Works If You Let It"). Unfortunately, none of these capable artists deliver anything significant to the album; Z'nuff guitarist John Monaco could have performed all the guitar parts himself and no one would have even noticed. In fact, Billy Corgan's part on "Everything Works..." is so faint as to be non-existent. At his request, the band remixed the song (improving it, in my opinion) and re-released it on their next album, 10. I suspect that, on Paraphernalia, the addition of three already established rock superstars was done not so much to show the spirit and brotherhood of Chicagoans (all of them come from that city) as it was meant to create exposure for Enuff Z'nuff. This is understandable; these guys have been plugging away for ten years' worth of critically acclaimed albums, with almost no commercial success. If this move was designed to help bring them into the public eye, then more power to them. Paraphernalia is an album that deserves to be heard.
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Great Music to Play While: Driving