02. Buzz, Buzz, Buzz
03. I'm Comin' Home
04. Talking About You
05. The Fat Man
06. Love Letters
07. Down The Road Apiece
08. Georgia Slop
10. Big Blue Diamonds
11. Your True Love
12. A Big Hunk Of Love
13. I Got Loaded
14. Pucker Paint
15. Pledging My Love
16. High School Confidential
Refreshing Classics (2006)
They've sold over half a million albums. They're awarded ten gold albums and one platinum album. They've had numerous radio hits since their commercial breakthrough with "Miss You Miss Belinda" in 1999. So what could The Refreshments possibly do next? Making their dream project come true of course: recording an album with their absolute rock'n'roll favorites played their way.
To do so they had to jump into the time machine and return to a time when every jukebox worth its name was loaded with songs like Fats Domino's "The Fat Man", The Hollywood Flames' "Buzz-Buzz-Buzz" and Elvis Presley's "A Big Hunk Of Love". Songs that ruled the US charts and spread the rock'n'roll gospel throughout the world. Songs that today count as classics from the early days of rock'n'roll.
Since finding a time machine is as easy as stumbling over a shimmering Wurlitzer, the band had to become the jukebox. Actually, that wasn't very hard. More than 3 000 gigs have made the band - Joakim Arnell (bass/vocals), Johan "J.B" Blohm (piano/vocals), Micke Finell (sax/vocals/guitar), Mats Forsberg (drums) and Robin Olsson (guitar/vocals) - a legendarily tight unit.
The result is "The Refreshments Jukebox - Refreshing Classics". It presents 15 well-known songs, as well as more obscure gems. Some even predating the golden days of rock'n'roll. "Everybody in the band got to write down a list with their favourite songs and then we picked the cream of the crop. The only song that everyone had on his list was 'The Fat Man', Fats Domino's 1949 hit. Maybe because it counts as the first real rock'n'roll record, or because we've started to identify ourselves with the title", Joakim Arnell says with a laugh.
As The Refreshments most prolific songwriter, Arnell was heavily involved in the final song choices. The bands shadow member, Hans Larsson, also played an important role in the selection. Mr. Larsson signed The Refreshments in 1994 while working as an A&R manager at BMG. He has since functioned as the band's executive producer and creative sounding board. "I thought that the band should do this record a couple of years ago, but the opportunity didn't arise until now. The idea was to record a tribute to the band's musical roots, where every song must be a million seller and a Billboard Hot 100 or R&B chart topper", Larsson says.
As it turned out they had to compromise the concept a bit along the way. Some of the lesser-known songs like Little Bob & The Lollipops' 1960 hit "I Got Loaded" had been only a minor hit on a local Louisiana chart. Also, when all the songs were chosen, a brand new song (which in this case means a song from the 21st century) was added; the album's opening track "Jukebox".
"We received 'Jukebox' a few years back. A trio of songwriters from Gavle had written the song especially for us, although we couldn't really use it at the time. When we started to choose songs for the album we realised that 'Jukebox' was tailor-made as the opening statement," Arnell says. He then adds that the band played and recorded the core of the songs live in the studio, just like they did back when the originals were recorded.
So, here's "The Refreshments Jukebox - Refreshing Classics". Let's have a closer look at what's going on while you listen:
"Buzz-Buzz-Buzz" was The Hollywood Flames first hit. It peaked at #11 on Billboard's Hot 100 in early 1958. Group member Bobby Day got a huge solo hit with "Rockin' Robin" six months later.
"I'm Coming Home" is also from 1958. Carl Mann had the hit but Charlie Rich, who played piano on the recording in the legendary Memphis Sun Studios, wrote the song. Elvis Presley would do his version three years later.
Chuck Berry's "I'm Talking About You" was released in 1961. The song crossed the Atlantic and was picked up by the young, hopeful Beatles in Liverpool, Rolling Stones in London, not to mention British R&B heroes like The Pirates and Dr Feelgood. The late pianist Johnnie Johnson (who's playing on practically every classic Chuck Berry recording) toured with The Refreshments during his visit to Sweden. He can be seen in the video for "We Just Can't Win".
There is a never-ending discussion about which song can be regarded as the absolutely first rock'n'roll recording. Thanks to its distinct and consistent backbeat Fats Domino's 1949 debut single "The Fat Man" must be a strong candidate. It started out as a local hit around Christmas, but soon spread to the rest of the USA and other parts of the world. A US #1 hit and a certified million seller signalled that Fats had arrived. With 58 R&B hits between 1950 and 1960, it's hard to overestimate his rock'n'roll legacy.
Dick Haymes had a hit with "Love Letters" in 1945, when it was nominated for an Academy Award as the theme for the "Love Letters" war movie. However, The Refreshments version has its sights on Ketty Lester's Top 5-hit from the spring of 1962. Despite several attempts at a follow-up, Lester became a bona fide "one-hit wonder". The song though, lives on and has been recorded by several artists since then.
The oldest song on the album is "Down The Road Apiece". Written by Don Raye in 1940 for Will Bradley & Ray McKinley's Big Band, which at that time was slimmed down to a trio. This hard rocking tribute to a late night boogie woogie joint has since been immortalised several times thanks to versions by Amos Milburn, Chuck Berry, Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen to name a few.
Jimmy McCracklin hit it big with "The Walk" 1958, but "Georgia Slop" never managed to sneak into Billboard's Top 40 chart the year after. Still, the song has had many fans that have made it their own over the years: Big Al Downing, Los Lobos - and now The Refreshments.
Since the subject is "rock'n'roll classics" it's no surprise that the name Elvis Presley pops up every now and then. Teddy Redell had the original hit with "Judy" in 1960 but it would be eclipsed by Elvis' version a year later. If you believe the Swedish part of Elvis' Fan Club, "Judy" is the best song Elvis ever recorded.
"Big Blue Diamonds" was a hit for Little Willie John in 1962 and has since been recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis, Percy Sledge, Van Morrison and Willy de Ville. Little Willie John had his biggest hit with "Fever" in 1956. Two years later Swedish descendant Norma Engstrom took the song to an even bigger audience under her more familiar artist name Peggy Lee.
If rockabilly is your thing, then Carl Perkins is most likely your hero. Carl struck gold with his 1956 hit "Blue Suede Shoes". The next year he recorded his own "Your True Love" with Jerry Lee Lewis banging away on piano. It is worth noting that the B-side "Matchbox" was one of many Carl Perkins songs that The Beatles snatched in the beginning of their career.
Back to Elvis again. With "A Big Hunk Of Love" "The King" could put an even dozen of US #1:s on display, a fact that in 1959 made him the undisputed King of the Charts. The hits just kept on coming...
Camille Bob started his music career as a 14-year old drummer back home in Leonville, Louisiana. Three years later he started the band Little Bob & The Lollipops. Their raw 1960 hit "I Got Loaded" is a bona fide swamp rock classic with artists like Canned Heat, Robert Cray, Los Lobos and Elvis Costello paying their tribute over the years.
In the mid 50's Danny Wolfe was a slightly overweight Texan with dreams of being a rockabilly star. Danny deemed his chubby look not rockabilly enough. Instead he withdrew to the basement of the family's grain company to become a songwriter. Gene Vincent and Sanford Clark was a couple of stars that had hits with his songs. Wolfe's "Pucker Paint" (slang for lipstick) counts as a true rockabilly classic and was originally recorded by 17-year old Huelyn Duvall in 1958.
Johnny Ace is one of the most mythical figures in rock'n'roll history. This is due to his tremendous row of R&B hits as well as the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. Ace shot himself with a gun backstage after a show at Houston's City Auditorium on Christmas Eve 1954. He was said to have played Russian roulette while Big Mama Thornton (of "Hound Dog" fame) watched. The real reason behind his death we'll probably never know. Johnny's biggest hit "Pledging my Love" was actually released a year after his passing.
A fan of Jerry Lee Lewis would most likely say that the best was saved for last. In the summer of 1958 "High School Confidential" became "The Killer's" fourth Top 40 hit before his career took a dive after marrying 13-year old cousin Myra Gale Brown. A film sharing the same title also opened that year, which features Jerry Lee performing the song in the opening sequence.
Here we are. "The Refreshments Jukebox - Refreshing Classics". Rock'n'roll the Refreshments way.
"We didn't want to fuss around too much with these songs so we decided to lean a lot against the original arrangements", Joakim Arnell says. "I guess it's a typical Refreshments twist to it. This is how we sound when we plug in our instruments and play our favourite songs".