Review by Martin Leach
They say the course of true love never does run smooth and that artists really suffer for their art. Never was a truer word spoken than in the case of Donnie Vie. The on / off lead singer and songwriter of the chronically misunderstood Enuff Z’nuff has been through a hell of a lot since the band tumbled into this business we call ‘ Show ‘ in the mid eighties. Suffice to say that Vie and his collaborater Chip Z’nuff haven’t quite seen eye to eye over the years. It’s not that surprising really when you know the band’s history; the gritty details of which have been fully documented and analysed elsewhere so I’m not going to open old wounds. But with Enuff Z’nuff continuing to tour and record with a new line up, both parties appear to have finally severed their ties. The release of this ( not very ) cryptically titled acoustic live album ‘ Goodbye Enough Z’nuff ‘, along with the accompanying DVD with 48 ( count ’em ! ) chapters gives more of an insight into the enigma that is Donnie Vie.
Recorded during the Magical History Tour of the UK in 2013, where Vie played different EZN albums in their entirety each night, the album consists of an unplugged ramble through their back catalogue. I expect the tour was a fairly cathartic experience for the singer, with mixed feelings influencing his song choices and delivery. There are sparse backing vocals on a few of the fourteen tracks from Magic Eight Ball singer/songwriter, and long time friend and mentor Baz Francis. Other than that, and the occasional plaintive piano, a stripped back set ensues with the man and his trusty guitar lost in their own world. If you’re hoping for a set full of energy and fizz then you’ll be disappointed. There was never going to be any plectrum throwing exuberance on this tour, but with the smaller venues giving little ambience to the stark nature of the music, the live experience is a little hit and miss.
Most of the earlier EZN albums are represented on the album, and lyrically there is some great material here. I’m drawn to make a comparison with Tyla from the Dogs D’amour and the loose, bar room feel to the music has echoes of that band’s works. ‘ The Beast Inside ‘ , ‘ There Goes My Heart ‘ , and ‘ New Thing ‘ paint their own biographical pictures of the past troubles of the band. The style and arrangements of the songs cone through well, but the original versions, with their pace and urgency are far superior. Vie was never one to shy away from the high notes, but his emotion and drive, coupled with the live set up, sometimes reveals the frailties in his voice. The comparison between EZN and the Beatles has been pointed out before and Vie’s delivery sure has a liverpublian twang at times. ‘ Fly high Michelle ‘ is almost a Lucy in the sky moment. ‘ You and I ‘ aches with it’s honesty, as does ‘ Someday ‘. Finally we come to ‘ Goodbye ‘ a piano driven cut, almost a sing-along, but not quite. More a lament.
I sense a crossroads up ahead for Mr. Vie. Apparently a solo album entitled ‘ All In… ‘ will see the light of day later in the year. It remains to be seen whether he can capture his undoubted talents onto a structured set of songs. He may yet surprise some people. For now, take this album as you find it, for what it is. For the die hard Enuff Z’nuff fan it’s one to add to the collection. For the rest of us, and for the real experience, go back in time and check out the originals.
“Goodbye Enuff Z’Nuff” is available now via Livewire/Cargo Records