The Refreshments Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy
The main riff to Banditos might be one of the catchiest guitar riffs of the entire decade. It's a legit hit. The other 11 songs on Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy kick (almost) as much ass. Mekong rocks, Mexico is a great change of pace, and Nada closes a near perfect album.
Banditos and Down Together get Tempe's The Refreshments on the radio, but Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy is an album you can put on repeat when driving coast to coast.
An album about the three B's: barkeeps, bottles, and breakups. Plus, (new) señoritas, happy hour, thievery, and girls who find night-based employment. Where did I hear it first? WAAF, like everything else.
The Refreshments were a significant part of the Tempe, AZ scene, touring often with the Gin Blossoms (New Miserable Experience) and others, In January of 1994, The Refreshments performed a set at Long Wongs in Tempe, their very first show.
Like Grunge and the Seattle Scene, Tempe had chimey, jangling guitar playing that was more overdriven than distorted. Lyrically, songs were about drinking, emotional loss, and, well, more drinking. Both of those things heavily influence Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy.
"Nirvana and Pearl Jam were everywhere and there were a whole bunch of spinoffs — Silverchair, Bush, Stone Temple Pilots. I remember not really caring to try to write like that. I did enjoy some of that music, but in putting together ‘Fizzy Fuzzy’ as a body of work, as a compendium, we wanted all the songs as a whole to carry as much strength as the Violent Femmes’ first release or, as another yardstick, They Might Be Giants' ‘Flood.’ I don’t remember what Buddy (Art Edwards) and Brian (David Blush) and P.H. (Naffah) picked, but we all had two albums we considered classics, sort of untouchable by the ages." - Roger Clyne
A handful of the songs on Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy first showed up on Wheelie, their 1994 demo tape with 11 tracks. Not sure if it was intentional, but Roger Clyne's vocals on Banditos are raspy and he is yelling them at times, a la Nirvana's Cobain. And, a few of lead guitar player Brian Blush's guitar parts are slightly altered.
But all in all, Wheelie is very nearly Fizzy Fuzzy. B.O.B.A. became Mexico and Psychosis doesn't make the cut.
Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers
After The Refreshments formally broke up, lead singer Roger Clyne and drummer PH Naffah went on to form RCPM. Had the pleasure of seeing them for the first time on Cinco De Mayo a few years back at The Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge. The Peacemakers put on a stellar show. Seen them twice since at the same venue, including the Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy 20th anniversary tour.
That's an objective rating. I think the album is a hard 9. It's got great guitar solos, enjoyable lyrics, and it's infinitely listenable.
Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy album notes
Blue Collar Suicide
Blue Collar Suicide leads off and sets the tone for Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy. You're gonna get some songs about women, some songs about drinking, and some songs about drinking because of women.
AWESOME Wah pedal work. Reminds me a ton of Apple Pie from White Trash. Another early 90s one-hit wonder song/band.
European Swallow is a title I'm not going to touch.
The boys in the band really don't think that much of your girlfriend, bro!
Interestingly enough, the second single on the album is perhaps my least favorite tune. Down Together is great, and, slotted in the traditional single slot, Track 3. But it's just not as good as the rest.
Tex-Mex strat sounds galore on Down Together and Fizzy Fuzzy in general.
The sing-a-long of the album.
Ska Punk upstrokes that disguise the lonely desert desperado melody line. Brilliant.
The lyrics to Mekong ... so many good lines:
- A new glass here for this new friend of mine, forgive me I forgot your name
- Is it true it's always happy hour here
- Barkeep, we need to go around again, one for me and what's his name, my new best friend
One of the best guitar solos on the entire album. Blush's strat sings.
It's always happy hour here when I'm listening to Mekong.
Here's to life!
Don't Wanna Know
There it is! The raindrop chime guitar sound(s) of Tempe, AZ.
Don't Wanna Know employs Lonestar State string bends as easy as a Sunday morning.
If you dialed back the blues a notch, Don't Wanna Know would be indistinguishable from the Gin Blossoms.
Feedback intro! What is this, Detroit?! Who do The Refreshments think they are, Sponge?
Who doesn't love a psychological rollercoaster of a relationship!?
Roger Clyne enjoys trips to the hardware store, eh? Nor is RC subtle.
I'm gonna buy you the biggest damn Louisville Slugger they got down in the back put a big red ribbon on it and deliver it to your door and you know what to do with it, right? Alright!
Better yet, a hit song about a holdup. There's a certain romanticism for Bonny and Clyde tales.
The biggest takeaway from Banditos is that if you hold the pistols, you damn sure keep the pesos!
Absolutely ripping guitar solos. Yes, multiple. Other bitchin' tunes that reprise the guitar solo include Pearl Jam's Alive (Ten) and The Darkness's I Believe In A Thing Called Love (Permission to Land).
And then The Refreshments slow it down with this little ditty about Fishin' & Boozin' in Mexico.
Question: Is boozin' implied when you say that you are going fishing? Is that why everyone likes to fish? I always hated fishing. But, I could learn to love it if it was 97% boozin'.
The support vocals that answer the "had to lie" parts are dynamite.
Not working past noon? Sounds more like San Diego than Mexico.
The brass is great.
Highway music. Interstate, how literal!
The Refreshments really toe the line of rock and country.
Who is cool enough to get a job at record store? AJ from Empire Records? Was he cool enough?
I think that that's the Suckerpunch. No one is really cool enough to work at a record store. You think you are, but you're not.
I could see some folks line dancing to Carefree.
If I told you once, I told you once, and once was all that you needed. Said every Dad in the world. Roger Clyne must have heard that a few too many times growing up.
Totally dig the piano.
Nada is pure excellence. From the harmonica, to Naffah's opening drums, to Blush's soulful guitar work.
I tip the bottle and bite the lime!
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