As Enuff Z'nuff celebrates a decade of recording, the band is now a handful of albums away from its heydays on a major label. But that hasn't stopped it from plugging out annual releases on one little record label after another — and the discs just seem to get better and better.
Paraphernalia is the best of its independent releases, and, as if to underscore the undeservedness of its current independent label situation, local rock star luminaries like Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen, Styx's James Young and Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan all turn up to support the band on various tracks.
Paraphernalia continues the band's positive relationship with Chris Shepard, who tracked its last studio release, Seven, and who's known for handling the boards for the Pumpkins and Wilco. Like all Enuff Z'nuff releases, this disc features plenty of power pop hooks, Beatle-esque hat tips and just plain fun party rockers, not to mention nods to peace and pipes (witness the title, the record label and the producers — Stemz and Seedz, aliases for EZ leaders bassist Chip Z'nuff and singer Donnie Vie).
Enuff Z'nuff has never been shy about stealing from the best, and Paraphernalia includes a host of subtle musical references to classic rock. It also pays homage to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody with its cover photo pose, and offers a gorgeous John Lennon-esque ballad in the piano-driven "Someday." Its cover of Cheap Trick's "Everything Works If You Let It," turns out to be one of the highlights of the disc, and the band is aided here by Corgan, who gives the bass-slaloming anthem a modern punky guitar edge. Vie seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder this time out lyrically; the albums starts with a typical EZ power anthem where he proclaims himself a "Freak," and ends with a stirring piano moment where he complains that he's the "Loser of the World."
But in between are a dozen great bass and guitar chugging radio singles waiting to happen, with uplifting sentiments like "Believe In Love's" typically blissful chorus of "You've got to believe in love/so your heart can melt away."
This album should easily melt away any doubts about Enuff Z'nuff's ability to still produce great power pop.
New On The Shelves
Kid Rhino has teamed up with The Cartoon Network to release Cartoon Medley, a CD collecting the original theme songs from a host of popular kids' cartoons, including "The Jetsons," "Johnny Bravo," "Josie & The Pussycats," "Cow and Chicken," "Scooby Doo," "The Flintstones," "Underdog," "Pinky and the Brain," "Yogi Bear" and many more.
The disc also includes a handful of computer games featuring popular cartoon characters, including a Pacman clone featuring Fred Flintstone in the role of Pacman, and one with the Scooby Doo clan investigating a haunted house.
Rhino also has paired with Warner Brothers Records to release a four-CD box set spanning folk great Gordon Lightfoot's four-decade long career. Songbook features 88 Lightfoot songs taken both from his 19 studio albums, and including an entire album's worth of previously unreleased tracks. The set has all of his big early '70s hits like "Sundown," "Carefree Highway," "If You Could Read My Mind," and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," and also includes a small 60-page hardbound booklet with essays and information about the songs.
On a completely different bent, Elektra Records has released a compilation of live songs from the ever-quirky Ween. Painting The Town Brown — Ween Live '90-'98, is a two-disc set offering fans material from the band's earliest days as a duo with a tape deck, to more recent songs from its tour for 12 Golden Country Greats. While the set misses some of the groups' best material, fans will no doubt want to check it out.
K-Tel has cashed in on the Swing craze by offering three CDs of rerecorded swing favorites. Lindy Hop, East Coast and Aerials all feature a different type of swing music, and each includes computer playable video dance lessons so you can learn the steps without embarrassment in your own home.