FFWDing to the Best Part: “High Enough,” Damn Yankees (1990)

Shaw/Blades is pretty much my favorite band ever (if we’re speaking in purely hyperbolic terms).  Who, you ask?  Well, it’s the duo comprised of Tommy Shaw (from Styx) and Jack Blades (from Night Ranger).  They specialize in acoustic scores, tight harmonies, and the reinterpretation of familiar classics, such as “California Dreamin'” and “Summer Breeze.”

When I first moved to Chicago, they came to town and played at a relatively small venue for $20 a pop. I refrained for reasons of frugality as I was settling into a new, pricier, city.  This remains my second-biggest missed-concert regret, trumped only by the time I skipped out on front-row tickets to Nelson to go on what I thought was a date (turns out, it was a friend thing/group hang).   Tour again, boys!  (Nelson or Shaw/Blades, really … I’d love to see either.)

Anyway, in between Styx/Night Ranger and Shaw/Blades, there was Damn Yankees, which consisted of these two fine fellows along with Ted Nugent, who needed something to do while waiting for hunting season to roll around.  Tight harmonies were again a trademark, but then you had The Nuge’s blistering guitar magic to boot.  Their first single, “High Enough,” was also their most successful. And though it’s essentially relegated to the Monster Ballad oeuvre, one can’t argue that it’s quite a pretty assemblage of power chords and tenor vocals that stretch the limits of human endurance.

Best part?  3:45 – 3:52. At this point, the listener has almost made it through the storm. Verses, choruses, a bridge that builds to a Nugent-solo climax. And then!  A final pre-chorus, which concludes with a Shaw-led vocal progression way into that stratosphere above High C and a “Yeah-eah-eah-eah-eah” worthy of the Mamas and the Papas themselves. 23 years later, I still get chills.


(In a future post, I really need to analyze this video. Guns. Cash. Prison. Beer Cans. Shirtless drummers. Tommy Shaw’s eyebrows. Exploding styrofoam coolers. What. Is. Happening.)


2 thoughts on “FFWDing to the Best Part: “High Enough,” Damn Yankees (1990)

  1. Pingback: FFWDing to the Best Part: “Handle With Care,” Traveling Wilburys (1988) | Neurotic City

  2. The main thing I gleaned from the Styx episode of Behind the Music is Tommy Shaw’s boundless disdain for Dennis DeYoung. DeYoung wanted to be all like, pretentious and arty and put on a musical about the meaning of modern society, while Shaw just wanted to play rock’n’roll and snort cocaine. Yet fast-forward a few years from Styx, and here’s Shaw with hair band bangs (!) singing more sappily, and with more backing strings, than Aerosmith doing Diane Warren’s “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” This song is clearly all about the angelic chorus, which never elaborates on the sense in which he wishes to be “high enough.”

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