So you want to be a musician? If you grew up with MTV in the 80’s, the music industry looked like the best job in the world. Play guitar, a bass or drums? Think you have a radio-friendly voice? Find some other like-minded guys (or even gals), concoct some catchy riffs, throw in a few bigger-than-life choruses, and the world will beat a path to your door. Right? The groupies will follow. The money will flow. Life will be just grand. Sounds great – doesn’t it? Sounds easy – doesn’t it? And then – reality sits in.
When you think of rock music industry veterans, Chip Z’Nuff should come to mind. Having spent the last few decades surfacing and re-surfacing along the rock music scene, Chip is the bass player that keeps on going. His band Enuff Z’Nuff was briefly all over MTV, named to Rolling Stone’s Hot List in 1991 (after the release of Strength – now referred by the magazine as “hair metal’s last gasp”), made multiple appearances on Late Night with David Letterman, earned a powerful endorsement from Howard “The King of All Media” Stern and seemingly had a future as bright as any band on the scene – only with better harmonies. Yet the Music Industry Success Gods have a sense of humor. After major flirtations with the big time, Enuff Z’Nuff never fully got to the top of the hill, yet they endure to this day (albeit without original singer/partner Donnie Vie). Chip, as they say, is a survivor. If you cut him, he will bleed music notes, along with a certain weed that is currently legalized in a handful of states. However, that’s a story for another time.
A few years back, Cleopatra Records released Chip’s Strange Time, a stoner rock record with a heavy dose of melody. Most of the tracks have been repackaged from Johnny Rotten, Jr. album, and the first ten tracks are just fine, if not a little different. What you can hear is the sense of melody that drove the first three Enuff Z’Nuff albums, so Chip is within his element without forcing himself into a new direction. The true beauty found within Strange Time is within the bonus EP tracks. “My Town” is a slight reworking of “Hang on to Life,” a criminally overlooked tracked from the 2003 Enuff Z’Nuff album “?”“Yesterday (Another Wasted Day)” falls right in line with some of the strongest songs EZN ever recorded. “The Game” rolls the influences of Queen, Beatles, Cheap Trick and Bandfinger all into one. “Tonight We Met (And Now We’re Going to Fuck)” – featuring Slash and Dale Bozzio – is just plain fun. “The Pain Is All on You,” written by Chip with Steven Adler and an additional credit awarded to Sir Paul McCartney, is one of the most beautiful ballads from any time in his career. These bonus tracks are worth the price of admission alone. Previously available only during club shows, it’s great to see them officially available.
Chip’s Enuff Z’Nuff currently features himself as the singer. Donnie Vie stepped away from the band for what seems like the final time, and his recent White Album is highly recommended, yet seems to missing something. Listening to Strange Time highlights exactly what’s absent from Mr. Vie’s tracks – the Chip Z’Nuff x-factor. Or is it the z-factor? Whatever Chip added to the history of EZN, whether a unique harmony or additional riff to round out a song’s sound, it’s present on Strange Time, yet missing from White Album.
All songs written by Chip Z’Nuff except where noted.
“Strange Time” (written by Chip Z’Nuff and Trent Reznor)
“Still Love Your Face” (written by Chip Z’Nuff and Wendel Rey)
“F..Mary..Kill” (written by Chip Z’Nuff, Howard Stern, and Steve Miller)
“Anna Nichole” (written by Chip Z’Nuff and Syklopps)
“Hello To The Drugs”
“All Day And All Of The Night” – featuring Robin Zander and Steven Adler (written by Ray Davies)
“Yesterday (Another Wasted Day)”
“Tonight We Met (And Now We’re Going To Fuck)” – featuring Slash and Dale Bozzio
“The Pain Is All On You” (written by Chip Z’Nuff, Steven Adler, Paul McCartney)