New album with The Refreshments: ”Highways And Byways”!
With a risk of repeating ourselves, we would like to remind you on the following facts:
• More than half a million records sold
• 12 Gold and 2 Platinum albums
• More than 3 400 live performances
It is of course The Refreshments we’re talking about—the band that since they started in 1989 has invigorated classic rock’n’roll like no other Scandinavian band, or dare we say no other band?
The new album ”Highways And Byways” is their eleventh (not counting three Christmas albums and a bunch of greatest hits collections and live recordings). It’s also the second consecutive album with “new” guitarist Jonas Göransson (yes, we know he joined back in 2010, but Ron Wood was the new guitarist in Rolling Stones for at least 20 years). Jonas has made an already water-tight crew even tighter: a band that features Joakim Arnell (vocals/bass), Micke Finell (sax/vocals/guitar), Mats Forsberg (drums) and Johan ”J.B” Blohm (piano/vocals) can whip up a steady rolling beat even if they were confined to play “Old McDonald Had A Farm”.
”It’s gotta be both rock and roll”, the band stated on its 1995 debut album. On ”Highways And Byways” the rock is rolling harder than ever. If “Rock’n’roll Bitch” is a reasonably contemporary rocker (“contemporary” in this case means somewhere in the mid 70’s), then ”Burning To The Core” and the closer ”Twice As Nice” are lightning-fast rock’n’roll-stompers with a feverish 50’s feeling.
These three songs also reveal something about the geographical musical roots of the band: London (as in Rockpile), New Orleans (as in Fats Domino) and Memphis (as in Elvis’ early rockabilly recordings). But that’s not all. The band’s visit at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, last year also inspired a few trips into tex-mex land. For example, the two gas-gulping car tributes ”El Camino” and ”Continental” wouldn’t have been out of place on Sir Douglas Quintet’s repertoire.
On top of that, songwriter, singer and bass player Joakim Arnell once again has managed to write a bunch of songs that somehow makes you think you’ve been zapped back in time to a bar with a jukebox somewhere around 1957 and 1958. Three of them are written to let boogie piano virtuoso Johan ”JB” Blohm show off his specialty; the kind of sad and Jerry Lee Lewis tinged country-rock songs that makes grown men and women cry in their glasses by the bar.
”Wish It Was Me”, ”The One You Love” and ”Delicate Flower” are pop songs with the kind of irresistible up-tempo beat that explains why The Refreshment’s songs has played in dance halls for more than 20 years. The growing number of rockabilly acts that has replaced traditional dance bands probably also owes quite a lot to the band’s hard work.
Also worth mentioning is ”Fooled By Love”, a song that Joakim thought would be a bit off The Refreshments radar. ”It felt so naked and odd, not the typical Refreshments song at all, so I never thought it would make the album. But instead it became something of a favourite track—about as far away from the belters like ’Rock’n’roll Bitch’ as you can get”, Arnell says.
But it’s not just the songs that give ”Highways And Byways” a new edge. Thanks to the involvement of new sound engineer Roberth Ekholm, who’s normally in charge of the band’s live sound mixing, The Refreshments studio recordings sounds livelier than ever. ”Roberth was an X factor that we threw in to stir things up a bit in the studio. The result was just what we wanted; a little heavier, rawer and tougher”, the chief songwriter says.
”Highways And Byways” simply is The Refreshments at their best. Which basically means that it’s rock’n’roll at its best.
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