There was always more to Chicago legends Enuff Z’Nuff than day-glo clothes, peace signs and drug problems. To a select few back in the day, singer Donnie Vie and bassist Chip Z’nuff were our generation’s Lennon & McCartney. And while they peaked commercially with their self-titled debut album, 1991’s follow-up ‘Strength’ was their masterpiece. Then along came Grunge and knocked them straight outta the ball park like many others. The following album ‘Animals With Human Intelligence’ sank without a trace, as did their career.

But unlike many of their contemporaries, the band battled through the subsequent line-up changes, legal issues and drug & alcohol addiction. Original guitarist Derek Frigo died of an overdose, long time drummer Ricky Parent succumbed to cancer. They changed labels more times than they changed drummers and guitar players, yet through all the tragedies, the one constant was that Chip & Donnie released quality music year after year. Even Donnie’s departure couldn’t stop the band. Now 15 albums into their career Enuff Z’nuff are back with a new album entitled ‘Brainwashed Generation’, the second to feature Chip as lead singer.


To be honest, I had little interest in hearing EZN’s last album ‘Golden Boy’. For me, EZN without Donnie is like Queen without Freddie, its peaches without the cream; it’s like a broken pencil…pointless! While their voices work well in harmony together, can Chip really compete with those golden Vie pipes, and does he even have the songwriting chops on his own? Well, I’m glad to report that ‘Brainwashed Generation’ goes a long way to prove me wrong.

Joining Chip on this latest excursion is long time guitarist Tory Stoffregen, drummer Daniel Hill and ex Life Sex & Death/AntiProduct legend Alex Kane (back in the band for the first time since 1987). Rick Nielsen’s son Daxx contributes drums for more than half of the album, along with Mike Portnoy and even estranged main man Donnie puts in a guest appearance.

With the basic tracks recorded back in November 2019, mixed and finished off by Chip at home during lockdown you could call ‘Brainwashed Generation one of the first ‘post lockdown’ releases?


Opener ‘Fatal Distraction’ sets the scene with hazy, lazy vocals and great power pop hooks to die for. Chip’s penchant for Cheap Trick is never far from his songbook, and the combination of loud, brash guitar work and a very hummable chorus takes this opener into classic EZN territory.

Ok, Chip you have my attention but any band can put their best tune as an opener, put your money where your mouth is and prove it! As if in reply, the punchy ‘I Got My Money Where My Mouth Is’ follows and puts to bed any doubts that the bassist needs Donnie Vie to carry his songs in 2020. This shows a band full of confidence, urgency and bravado. With continuing Cheap Trick vibes, trademark backing harmonies and a chorus that insists you sit up and take notice, I’m convinced just 2 songs in; they have already done enough to prove EZN are far from a spent force.


It’s impossible to do an Enuff Z’Nuff review and not mention The Beatles. Lennon-esque, sentimental balladry is rife in the likes of ‘It’s All In Vain’ and ‘Broken Love’. Chugging guitars, ringing chords and soaring vocal melodies take this listener to the same heights the likes of ‘Fly High Michelle’ and ‘Right By Your Side’ did back in the day.

Donnie Vie returns for ‘Strangers In My Head’ and it’s no surprise that its an album highlight. His lush tones carry the dark and foreboding tune to another worldly plain. It’s a powerful. riff heavy rocker that sees the writer delve deep inside his own head. So much so, it makes the following ‘Drugland Weekend’ sound like a just another dumb ass rock song, all style and no substance, but hey there’s nowt wrong with that sometimes!


Enuff Z’Nuff never got the breaks they deserved. But let’s face it, most of the greatest bands suffered the same fate! But put an Enuff Z’Nuff greatest hits package together and it stands tall quality wise with any band you would care to mention and that will be their legacy.

‘Brainwashed Generation’ is a surprisingly good album, which recalls their glory days and the best of their influences. Sure, it’s not as good as ‘Strength’ or even ‘Animals…’ song for song, but it’s on a par with anything the band put out after, and that is a good place to be 15 albums into your career.

Chip continues to fly the flag for Enuff Z’Nuff, writing quality tunes and touring the world. It’s all he’s done since the heady 80’s and no one’s gonna stop his love train now.

Buy ‘Brainwashed Generation’ Here


Author: Ben Hughes





Album pre-order link – Here   Also The first single ‘FATAL DISTRACTION’ is aired below.

Enuff Z’nuff are the living, breathing example of what a rock ‘n roll group should be. Now centered around bass player and vocalist Chip Z’nuff and also featuring Alex Kane, Tory Stoffregen and Daniel B. Hill, the band are still delivering their patented power pop melded with hard rock stylings.

‘Brainwashed Generation’ is the follow-up to 2018’s well received ‘Diamond Boy’ and showcases a diverse collection of songs that demonstrate the progression of musical styles in the Enuff Z’nuff catalogue, all the while retaining the undercurrent that has kept them a loyal fanbase since the ‘80s. The album also features guest appearances from original frontman and guitarist Donnie Vie (‘Strangers In My Head’) plus guest appearances from Mike Portnoy and Daxx Nielsen (Cheap Trick).

Chip Z’nuff says of the new album that “this batch of songs are simply gifts from above via a plethora of influences. There’s certainly plenty of fodder at this unprecedented time in our world.” He adds: “We recorded the album in a few interesting locations, such as Stonecutters Studio in downtown Chicago, Chris Steinmantz’s studio [White Lion, Styx], which was a ghost town, and my studio on the Southside that was filled with extracurricular activities during the whole process.”
On working with guest musicians, he continues: “Fabulous rock musicians came by during these sessions to lend their magnificent skills, including members of Cheap Trick [Daxx Nielsen], Mike Portnoy [Sons of Apollo, Winery Dogs] and Steve Ramone.”

Enuff Z’nuff plan to tour in both North America and Europe in support of ‘Brainwashed Generation’ as soon as the world situation allows.

Originally formed in 1984 in Chicago, Enuff Z’nuff received their big break in 1989 when they signed to Atco/Atlantic Records. Their self-titled debut album was a monster hit and spawned two evergreen singles, ‘New Thing’ and ‘Fly High Michelle’. Both received constant airplay on radio and heavy rotation on MTV, spending over 60 weeks in the US Top 10. 1991 saw the band release a follow-up album, ‘Strength’, which had hard rock overtones and sustained the success achieved with their first album. The band made high profile television and radio appearances on the likes of David Letterman and Howard Stern and were featured in Rolling Stone’s Hot Issue as ‘The Next Big Thing’. They adapted during the changing musical climates of the ‘90s and have gone on to release a dozen more studio records.

“Elvis was a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me…most of my heroes ain’t appeared on no stamp”. Chuck D, quoted from the inlay of ‘Generation Terrorists’ by The Manic Street Preachers back in 1992. That quote has always resonated with me. My heroes have always been the underdogs, they have never got the rewards or the worldwide acclaim they so rightly deserve. And one such artist happens to be Donnie Vie, the former singer of Chicago power-pop legends Enuff Z’Nuff.

Now Enuff Z’Nuff was a band out of time. Due to their garish, day-glo get up and pretty boy looks they were lumped into the hair metal scene when they blasted out of Chicago in 1989, and they could never shake that tag. But if you ignore the 80’s production and get past the squealing, dive bomb solos of original guitarist Derek Frigo, their early albums still stand the test of time where many others fail. Good songwriting is good songwriting whatever the production, and I can’t help feeling that if Donnie and songwriting partner/bassist Chip Z’Nuff had met in another place, at another time, they could’ve been household names.

You see Donnie & Chip were my generation’s Lennon & McCartney, and I don’t say that lightly, for me their back catalogue speaks for itself. But while they struggled on, releasing quality album after album, alas it was not meant to be. In-band fighting, addiction and being fucked over by record labels is a familiar rock ‘n’ roll story, and Enuff Z’Nuff had it all and threw it all away. Band members came and went, some died (R.I.P. Derek Frigo and drummer Ricky Parent). And while Chip still keeps the Enuff Z’Nuff peace flag flying, Donnie has long since washed his hands and carved out a solo career, vowing never return to his past band.


‘Beautiful Things’ is his first album in 4 years, and follows a period of time the singer has taken to physically and spiritually rebuild. Not helped by recent hospitalisation and the PledgeMusic debacle, the album has been delayed until now.

The influence of The Beatles has always been at the forefront of Donnie’s writing. Catchy, pop-tastic melodies and instant choruses have been a trademark since ‘New Thing’ and ‘Baby Loves You’ were all over MTV. And those influences are all over ‘Beautiful Things’, the man just can’t help himself.

Whether it’s the hazy, lazy title track that opens the album with dreamy, layered vocal harmonies, and Paul Gilbert’s trademark guitar licks, the acoustic-led ‘Breaking Me Down’ with its building, euphoric chorus, or the piano-led love letter to a lost love that closes the album, the ghost of the Fab Four presides over everything he does. There is much to enjoy from the ten tracks on offer and to be honest there is not a bad track on it. Prepare for goosebump moments ahead, there will be plenty.


The introspective ‘I Could Save The World with its ringing chords, haunting vocal harmonies and uplifting  feel, was the first taste of this album late last year and promised much. It’s got Jellyfish legend Roger Joseph Manning Jr on it for starters! If there was ever a song to whet people’s appetite, then this was it. “All I wanna do is bring the good shit back” the man sings with such passion I believe his every word, and am with him every step of the way. What a tune.

Expectations were high from the moment I heard this song and Donnie has sure delivered. ‘Beautiful Things’ is an album full of passion, sentiment and good, good feeling. The songwriting is top notch, the production crystal clear and the performance is stellar.

All these songs stand up against the man’s extensive back catalogue. ‘Plain Jane’ is pure EZN fodder. The way the melody builds to yet another Lennon-esque chorus that Liam Gallagher would die to have penned. And I have to mention the uplifting ‘Whatever’. A perfect 3 minute pop song in the tradition of old school rock ‘n’ roll. It sounds like a vintage Beatles classic, the old 50’s inspired Beatles that cut their teeth playing bars in Germany. Everything is perfect about this song, the vocal delivery is spot on, the sentiment of the retrospective lyricism, and the production, it’s so retro I hear it in black and white!  An instant classic and a welcome addition to the man’s back catalogue.


Donnie Vie has battled his own demons and come out the other side stronger and better for it. The distinctive, raspy vocals are as good as ever and the art of a catchy chorus has not been lost.

While it’s sad Chip and Donnie may never reunite as Enuff Z’Nuff, life goes on and Donnie has crafted an album that retains everything his former band delivered and more, while still sounding fresh, vibrant and current.

I can safely say ‘Beautiful Things’ is the best album Donnie Vie has released as a solo singer and probably the strongest set of songs since the release of Enuff Z’Nuff’s classic ‘Strength’ back in 1991. For me, this is one of the essential releases of the year.


Buy Beautiful Things Here


Author: Ben Hughes