Published October 1996, The Aquarian Weekly
Like a side trip down a scenic dirt road to a favorite fishing spot on a day when you should be working Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy, The Refreshments' Mercury Records debut, is a pleasant detour off a musical highway jammed with pop, punk and grunge clones tunelessly bellowing out their pointless anger at the top of their lungs.
Fueled by the imaginative wordplay and mellow voice of singer/guitarist/primary songwriter Roger Clyne backed by the warm, rootsy, unforced brilliance of guitarist Brian Blush, drummer Paul Naffah and bassist Arthur "Buddy" Edwards III most Refreshments songs have more to do with hookers, beer, bad relationships, Mexico, more hookers, fear, escape and lazy afternoons fishing than they do with changing the world or changing your mind.
With minimal political chest-beating and a youthful, single-minded pre-occupation with the uhm finer things in life, songs such as: "European Swallow," "Down Together," "Mekong," "Girly," "Banditos," "Mexico," "Carefree" and "Interstate" come off as some of the finest examples of story-telling escapism since Creedence Clearwater Revival floated down John Fogerty's imaginary bayou way back when.
Formed by Clyne (Tempe, Ariz.), Edwards (Moline, Ill.), Blush (Detroit, Mich.) and original drummer Dusty Denham in 1993 the fledgling group's 1994 Epiphany Records release, Wheelie (long out of print and now worth anywhere from $40 to $70), outsold new releases from the Cranberries, Pearl Jam and the Beatles (in Tempe, anyway) upon its release.
Encouraged by the unanticipated success of the CD and their rapidly growing live following, the group landed gigs in Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego that increased the industry buzz surrounding them and drew the attention of ASCAP talent scout Marcy Drexler.
Drexler set up ASCAP showcases in Tempe, Nashville and Memphis that brought a few smaller labels to the table with offers but, it was a prime slot at Austin's fabled South by South West Music Festival that hooked Mercury's Senior A&R VP Peter Lubin on the Refreshments.
In "negotiations" and on the verge of possible stardom, Denham inexplicably arrived at the conclusion that the theater was his born calling and, following a brief period of panic, the drummer's chair was capably filled by local stick-man P.H. Naffah.
Signing on the dotted line with Lubin and Mercury, most of Wheelie was quickly re-tooled into Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy and released by the label in February.
The band has, or so it seems, been on tour continuously ever since.
Meanwhile, Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy has slowly, but steadily, been inching its way into the outer reaches of the CMJ and Billboard charts based on the strength of the band's opening performances for Seven Mary Three and The Nixons on their last tour and the infectious, radio-friendly catchiness of the singles "Banditos" and "Down Together."
And, according to early accounts of the group's ongoing second-on-the-bill stint with Dishwalla it won't be long before the Refreshments, four extremely nice guys who believe in the healing power of a midnight road trip and case of brew, are headlining venues they dreamed of opening less than a year ago.
The Refreshments can be found on the world-wide web at: www.mercuryrecords.com/mercury. To join The Refreshments fan club write to: 717 S. Mill Ave., Ste. 205, Tempe, AZ 85281.
-- AL MUZER