Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
“Everybody knows that the world is full of stupid people. Well I got the pistol so I get the pesos…yeah that seems fair.” Roger Clyne wrote & sang those humorous & insightful lyrics on The Refreshments’ 1996 Modern Rock hit single “Banditos,” and the album that spawned the song (Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy) is filled from top to bottom with tracks that should have been just as (if not more) successful. I wrote about my love of this modern (if a nearly 25-year-old album can still be considered “modern”) classic in the fifth Great Out Of The Gate post in 2015, which included an explanation of why I consider it their debut even though they had previously released an independent album in their native Arizona, and you can read all of that below.
For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.
From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 5:
I might be cheating a bit with this album’s inclusion here since they had released the independent Wheelie two years earlier, but 9 of its 10 tracks were re-recorded for their major-label debut (which also included 3 additional songs) and this was The Refreshments’ introduction to the world beyond their local Arizona fan base. The quartet fronted by singer/songwriter Roger Clyne is probably best known for the instrumental theme song from animated TV show King Of The Hill, but they also scored a Top 20 Modern Rock track with the song “Banditos,” its lyrics about Star Trek and lines like “Everybody knows that the world is full of stupid people” making them a perfect fit for alternative rock stations. I’ve long been surprised that they didn’t become huge, especially since Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy is loaded with catchy, cool & creative songs, often aided by the inventive drumming of P.H. Naffah. A couple of key ingredients that separated The Refreshments from their contemporaries were the atmospheric desert-inspired moods & Mexican flourishes they added to songs like “Mekong,” “Don’t Wanna Know,” “Mexico” and epic album-closer “Nada.” There’s also a non-stop sense of pure joy throughout the record, which might explain its lack of success in the doom-and-gloom ‘90s, although “European Swallow,” “Down Together” and “Girly” all deserved radio play. Clyne & Naffah went on to form the more successful Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers after The Refreshments split a few years later, carrying the sound of their previous band into the new millennium, but as much as I enjoy everything they’ve released, my love of Clyne’s music will always be tied to this incredible record that was one of the highlights of that decade for me.
A Refreshments-loving friend & I were supposed to see them on the tour supporting their follow-up album but circumstances that night led us to skip the show, saying to each other “We’ll catch them on the next tour.” Then the band broke up and we regretted our decision. Eleven years later, in March 2008, Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers played at B.B. King’s Blues Club in NYC and that same friend & I attended the show, hoping to hear a couple of songs from Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy. Instead we were treated to 9 of its 12 songs including a powerful performance of “Nada,” and I left with a huge smile on my face. I’ve seen hundreds of concerts over the last 40 years and that remains near the top of my list. Are there any other Refreshments &/or Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers fans out there with similar experiences seeing them? If you’re new to them, I hope this post has inspired you to check them out.