Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bottle, baby!

I’ve been in the studio all weekend recording an absolutely sinister version of “Nickel” with many good friends in Phoenix. Remember? Right now, it looks inevitable this tune will launch on my MySpace Music Page in a week! Check back here next Monday, 3/19, for details.

In an effort to pump the Chicago Martyrs’ gig on Saturday, June 9th, I will dedicate as many blogs as possible between now and then to topics related to the Refreshments.

After last week, I feel compelled to write a bit about a Refreshments record that doesn’t get as much attention, The Bottle and Fresh Horses. Many of the songs on Bottle were hold-overs from the period of writing before Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy. The idea was that since we had so many songs, why not keep a few for the next record? “Wanted,” “Dolly,” “Buy American,” “Una Soda,” “Broken Record,” these were all hold-overs. Everything else was written during the period after Fizzy and before Bottle.

I think somehow this juxtaposition of material still shines through, that there’s some conflict on Bottle between old and new. I think the older songs might sound a bit flat next to the newer ones, which isn’t surprising; bands tend to be more engaged in new material. But I also think we were trying to grow, trying to add dimension to the band that made Fizzy. While many may have hoped for Fizzy II, we were looking to the next phase, and I think that’s reflected in the newer tunes on Bottle.

In retrospect, I think Bottle will be seen as a transitional album, a batch of songs that stand up individually but may or may not congeal. In another way, it reminds me a bit of Fables of the Reconstruction by REM; no one calls it their favorite REM record, but no true fan would be without it.

By the way, you can expect a healthy dose of Bottle songs at our Chicago tribute show.

Feel free to add your take on Bottle in the comments section.



Mark said...

The Bottle is example that The Refreshments never released anything but excellent albums (despite what the press wanted to say). At the time, in my opinion, it was hard to separate Fizzy and The Bottle in terms of quality. Both definitely had different tones, but quality wise I could never pick a favorite. Though, I guess I'd try. I'd listen to Fizzy and pick that as a marginal favorite. Then listen the The
Bottle, and second guess the decision in favor for The Bottle. Like I said, I could never pick a clear favorite.

Ten years later, not much has changed, except that maybe Fizzy comes out slightly on top. However the fact that The Refreshments released 2 top notch major label albums hasn't changed one bit.

I never found the older songs to be any flatter than the newer ones, with the exception of maybe Dolly. Even that wasn't flatter, as much as just not having as much staying power as the others. (I will note that I'd been listening to a live version of Dolly long before the Bottle came out). Wanted and Una Soda are definitely two of the defining tracks of The Bottle. Notably, Una Soda, previously on Lo, was still completely fresh and always sounded like it was made for The Bottle. Buy American is one of my personal favorites.

Definitely The Bottle was a transition of Fizzy to what became Honky Tonk Union (can you say Horses?), but more so than a transitional album, I see it as one of those criminally underrated albums. Pretty much for the reason that it wasn't Fizzy II. The Refreshments did the tongue in cheek bratty school boy thing perfectly; most of the world just failed to realize they did they mature, dark, brooding, pessimistic thing equally as well.

At the time the record came out, I was just coming off a big breakup, and The Bottle was an absolutely perfect therapeutic release at the time. That (particularly) and Hang Onto Nothing (The Pistoleros), which came out around the same time, were in huge rotation for me in the later part of '97, both perfect albums for that period.

Still to this day, stacking up Refreshments and post Refreshments (Peacemakers) work, The Bottle is my favorite of albums post Fizzy Fuzzy.

Who said absence makes the heart grow fonder?


DaisyDeadPetals said...

In all honesty...I rarely ever listen to one album without listening to the other. "Sin Nombre" was an underrated song..."Horses" gives me that great whiskey vibe and even friends of mine who weren't Refreshments fans got into that tune. Both albums have a very special place in my heart so I don't really feel it necessary to compare them...I just know that when I listen to either album, I wish for the summer as they are both "summer" albums to me. Sort of like Luna's "Romantica" album. That's another one that I relate to summertime.

Goat said...

The simplest way I could say this is the way I have said it many times before. I feel like FFB&B is my favorite of the two, but I listened to TB&FH more. If that makes sense.

Living half a country away from Phoenix, I didn't have the luxury of hearing the Freshies play live. Or hear any of the buzz about the record(s). No "Wheelie", no "Lo....". Just the joy of discovering a second album on the shelf from this band I really dug. I have never thought of the transitional material like you described. In retrospect, I can see where "Dolly" sounds like it was written by a younger band.

But bery little else sounds like that. I felt like the songs were bookends to the same story. In "Down Together", a guy is falling in love with the girl and things are new, and in "Fonder & Blonder" he is dealing with one of them falling out of love. Just the end to the same story.

Or another allegory would be night and day. In the daytime, you have the fun happy stuff that FFB&B had, and at night when the land cools and the ghosts seem restless, you get TB&FH. But after you sleep off the tequila, you wake up with the fun happy mindset again.

People often use the term "grow" to describe an album that sounds like it was written by a different band. And both of your albums sound like they were written by the same band. There wasn't much time lapse, so there are only subtle differences and improvements in performance and songwriting. I never saw the darker meloncholy and happier carefree material as seperate. Merely multiple sides of the same band. There is very little difference, to me, in the feel of "Nada" and "Sin Nombre" for example. And there isn't a thing I would have wanted changed on either record.

Based on the bootlegs I have found from the last days, I would have loved to have heard what "Honky Tonk Union" would have sounded like as a Refreshments record, and what yours and Brian's influence on the songwriting would have produced. The good part is all of you are continuing to create art to share with us to this day. And that's more than any fan could ask for.

Chris D. said...

I'm 21 years old: I wasn't around at the peek of the Refreshments and only found them by chance, after seeing a re-run of a Conan O'Brian episode, where the Refreshments played "Banditos." I was hooked and had to find out who this band was. A few double-clicks later, I found that this band had made 2 albums, which I immediately downloaded and listened to (on iTunes). Then, I was left wanting more. All this, from a Pennsylvania kid, who was then in 11th grade. For some reason, the music just stuck.

Once I traced the Refreshments to Roger Clyne (and the Peacemakers), I was happy to find that the front-man for the Refreshments was still making music.

For whatever reason, the two Refreshments albums just clicked with me. Roger's voice, the tone of the music, and the overall just fit in with my personality. I felt like I had found MY band and it was great.

Of the two albums, I do like FFB&B more, but TB&FH is very good in its own right. Nada is perhaps one of my favorite songs of all time.

I'm glad that the band existed long enough to produce two excellent albums, and I'm even happier that Roger is still around and cranking out albums...and I hope he continues to do so, long into his old age.

Michael said...

I loved "Bottle". I thought it was a natural progression from "Fizzy". When I first put in "Bottle" I felt like it picked up right where "Fizzy" left off. I remeber sitting out in a field in Tennesse with a 12-pack of Bud and listening to it over and over. Good times.