Chip Z’nuff “Strange Time”
If your reading that name and it means nothing to you then you have seriously missed out. Chip Z’nuff is one of the founder members and bass player in the band Enuff Z’nuff. A band who actually had their greatest exposure with their debut album, but have struggled to match that commercial success since. That in itself is a tragedy as they have released some of the finest pop rock tunes known to man. Anyhow, this is one of their main songwriters’ first solo album.
We are gently introduced to his solo work by “Sunshine” a tune that displays the same love of The Beatles as his main band. It’s a psychedelic, laid back, Lennon esque ballad. When we first heard the debut single from the album, “Rock Star” it did cause us some concern as it is one of the tracks furthest away from ‘the Z’nuff sound’. Along with the title track “Strange Time” and “Dragon Fly”, they are sprawling, psychedelic rock songs that, if were honest, are missing the melody we normally associate with Chip’s work. Maybe they are best listened to with Chip’s preferred cigarette of choice to fully appreciate the spiralling effect of the songs!
Don’t panic though, there are still plenty of good songs on the album! Far better is “Still Your Face” where is firmly back in Beatles territory, although it might actually be closer to ELO as it had us thinking about their big hit, “Mr Blue Sky”. “Strike Three” is another number which has a strong tune and would sit comfortably on Enuff Z’nuff’s Tweaked album. Chip manages to merge both sides of the album on “Hello To The Drugs” which has an expansive feel but maintains the stronger sense of melody. He also delivers a very fine, punkier version of the great Kinks’ track “All Day & All Of The Night”, which nicely rounds off the album ‘proper’.
We also get a few bonus tracks, including “My Town” and “Yesterday (Another Wasted Day)” which are great pop rocking numbers. There is also one of the best songs on the album in the form of the provocatively titled “Tonight We Meet (and now were going to F***)”. That song is a real power pop gem that reminds us of the great fun character Mr Z’nuff is.
This is quite a hard album for us to review, mainly because we are such huge fans of Chip’s ‘day job’ band. We consider Enuff Z’nuff to be one of the most underrated bands in music. Our natural urge, therefore, is to love those songs that are most reminiscent of that band, of which there are many. Credit should be given to Chip for seeking to strike out and do something different and those songs may well attract new/different fans. One things for sure is that a songwriter of Chip’s quality deserves all the exposure he can get.