Sunday, March 4, 2007

Feeling a bit fizzy today. Or maybe it's fuzzy...

In an effort to pump the Chicago Martyrs’ gig on Saturday, June 9th, I will dedicate at least one blog a month between now and then to topics related to the Refreshments.

It’s been almost nine years since the Refreshments played their last gig, but the phenomenon of the Refreshments isn’t going away anytime soon.

Case in point: someone who would know told me recently that the Refreshments’ first record, Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big & Buzzy, still sells 100 copies a week. Let’s put that into perspective. The album’s been out for over eleven years (release date 2/27/96); there is no one out there who’s job it is to sell it; there are at least 300,000 used copies of Fizzy floating around (A modest estimate; at the time the band was still together, the album had shipped over 300,000 copies); there are innumerable ways, in this digital age, to get a copy of Fizzy without paying for it; and yet 100 people a week still manage to go to a record store, go to the internet, go to iTunes and spend their money on a brand new copy of Fizzy. After eleven years, that’s astounding. I wonder how that compares to other bands' debut records of the same era. I bet we stack up pretty well.

A lot of people must wonder (I know one person wonders, anyway) if Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big & Buzzy is close to garnering gold record status. Here’s what I know: Fizzy had shipped at least 300,000 copies nationally by the end of 1996. Gold records are calculated by the amount of records shipped, and the magic number for a gold record is 500,000. If Fizzy sold 100 records a week (about 5000 records a year) for the entire decade following 1996--assuming a new record ships for each sale--then Fizzy has shipped, modestly, 350,000 copies. I say "modestly" because, even though the record currently sells 100 copies a week, that number has undoubtedly gone down in the intervening years, meaning it probably sold more per week a few years ago, and even more per week a few years before that. Considering all of this, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fizzy has shipped somewhere in the 400,000 range.

But these are all educated guesses. Only Mercury Records knows for sure how many copies of Fizzy have shipped.

For posterity, anyone want to know which metro areas bought the most copies of Fizzy? This I do know, at least as of Dec. 15 of 1996, and I doubt the pecking order has changed much in the intervening years. Here’s a top ten list, according to Soundscan:

10) Chicago
9) Sacramento
8) Detroit
7) Portland
6) Los Angeles
5) Atlanta
4) New York
3) Boston
2) Denver
1) Phoenix

And just for fun, here’s 11-20:

11) Philly
12) DC
13) Cleveland
14) Dallas
15) KC
16) Pittsburgh
17) SF-Oak-SJ
18) Houston
19) Minneapolis
20) Austin



Anonymous said...

Wow! Very impressive indeed. Those stats are really something. Personally, I buy FFB&B anytime I see it anywhere but it's typically at a retail outlet. Sometimes it's Best Buy, Hastings, or my local indie music store. I keep extra copies on hand to gift to anyone and everyone. That music is timeless. I mean, I think it reflects a little bit of that era, but the songs just never seem to get old even as the disc (and band members, haha!) age. Thanks, Art. Appreciate your insight. ~ K

Art Edwards said...

Hey, who's aging?!?

Thanks for the kind words, Kathy. We loved doing it.


Art Edwards said...

Hey, slight revision.

I somehow missed Portland the first time around.

The rankings have been corrected.


Anonymous said...

THe only thing that I see that may be wrong with your logic of "at least 100 copies sold per week, in the earlier years," is that iTunes and digital distribution wasn't prevalent until 2002.

Art Edwards said...

Good point, Chris.

It's worth repeating: this is all conjecture. Only Mercury really knows what we sold.


Anonymous said...

I don't know. I still listen to my copy...often...In fact, my sister and I have created a sort of drinking game for the song "Mekong." I hold the record...I downed a 6 pack (Sam Adams Cherry Wheat) during that one song. Of course, I was younger then......
Also, I often throw "Nada" in the jukebox at a local watering hole and whenever someone asks me who sings it, etc. I immediately pimp the album out. "Nada" is always a good choice cause it's one of those songs you hear and never want it to end. But I digress, the whole album is great and it's one of the few cds that has sort of grown with me. I still love a lot of music from that time in my life, of course, but the Refreshments just meakes me want the summer, the endless nights, the just brings me to a warm and happy place...

Gaila said...

I LOVE that album!!! I still reach for that CD as one of my all-time faves at least once a week. It probably sells so much because folks like me have worn out their original copies!! Thanks to you and the others for making this great record, it is truly timeless!!

Anonymous said...

BTW, is Art Edwards also "Buddy" from the band?!?!

Uh...sorry if that's a stupid question...

In any case, the album was and still is fantastic. One of my favorites of all time, even as just a fan of rock music in general; it's way up there.

Art Edwards said...

They're all me.





Mekong77 said...

I just wanted to take a second and thank you for being a part of such a magical record for me. In the midst of all the negative music at that time along came this poppy group of guys that just wanted to have a good time. It translated on record as much as it did live. My best friend turned me on to Fizzy, shortly after you played a festival in Portland for a station I was working at at the time. Not only were you guys a good band, but really nice people. I have been a flag waving supporter since. "Fizzy" and "The Bottle" are a package deal. One doesn't get more love than the other and both have traveled thousands of miles with me. Each play brings back a simpler time in my life when things were, well, a little more "Carefree". Now I am a husband, father, and homebody that gets to relive those days each time I push play. I haven't ever connected with a band like that before. It never grew tired, and after ten years it still feels brand new...that's quality my friend. Each time I hear those Brian Blush guitar solos it still makes me say to myself how in the world did Mercury look past these guys. After 11 years of the radio business and conversations with record reps you see how much bottom lines outweigh quality. Now I live here in AZ and it was the coolest thing to stumble on to the "Broasted Chicken" sign on the back cover by total accident. One final thought and I'll bring this rambling to a close. You were just here doing the recording for "Nickel", Brian, Roger, and P.H. are all here why not do a one time reunion show at the Celebrity Theater. I know everyone has their own thing going now, but it's one night in a house you know would be packed to the rafters...

Art Edwards said...

A fair question, Mekong77. Sounds like a good future blog...

Thanks again for the kind words.