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:
6) Los Angeles
4) New York
And just for fun, here’s 11-20: