I got a small television as a Christmas gift from my parents in 86, halfway through my first year at Illinois. Sherman Hall had cable jacks and free access, so I spent a number of hours in the first half of 87 watching stuff, often MTV, in that closet of a dorm room. By that time, MTV was going through its initial round of VJ replacements (hello, Downtown Julie Brown!), but since they were still playing videos pretty much 24/7, I tuned in plenty. One clip that caught both eye (high energy, engaging performance vid) and ear (catchiness out the wazoo) in the spring semester of 87 was Patty Smyth’s “Never Enough;” before long I was shuffling down to Record Service to buy the 45. I’d been a big fan of Smyth’s work with Scandal, even though they broke through to the Top 40 only with “The Warrior.” [Side note: IMO they have a strong stable of singles that missed: “Goodbye To You” (#65), “Love’s Got a Line on You” (#59), “Hands Tied” (#41), and “Beat of a Heart” (also #41).] Somehow, someway, “Never Enough” suffered a similar fate, reaching only #61 in April–I have to confess that I don’t get it. And while I don’t care nearly as much for her big 92 #2 hit duet with Don Henley, “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” I’m happy enough that she had another taste of real success.
When I first threw “Never Enough” on the turntable, I noticed that Smyth shared songwriting credit with Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian of the Hooters, along with a couple other guys. One was Smyth’s producer Rick Chertoff, who was long-time buds with Hyman and Bazilian and had produced their 85 LP Nervous Night. This all made sense, as I certainly got a chunk of a Hooters vibe from listening to it. But it wasn’t until I dialed Patty up on YouTube recently and read through some comments that I learned there’s a version of “Never Enough,” with completely different lyrics, from ten years earlier. Hyman and Bazilian were then members of the Philadelphia-area band Baby Grand, and they’d written this song with Chertoff and David Kagan, the group’s vocalist. Its lyrics are moderately clever, I suppose, but I’d call Smyth’s efforts, while not earth-shaking, an improvement. And the original definitely lacks the punch and drive of the later version.
You may be familiar with Baby Grand, but I’ll put the two takes side by side in case you aren’t and want to compare.