Review: The Refreshments – Ridin’ Along with the Refreshments (Carpe Diem, 2011)
It’s no accident that Sweden’s Refreshments have crossed paths with both Billy Bremner (for Both Rock ‘n’ Roll and Trouble Boys) and Dave Edmunds (providing backup for Back on Track and the live A Pile of Rock), as they are the Swedish heirs to the same roots as Bremner’s and Edmunds’ Rockpile. Starting as a ‘50s cover band in 1990, the Refreshments still feature plenty of classic rock ‘n’ roll riffs, fat sax by Micke Finell and terrific New Orleans rhythms, but they also add some country twists in the guitars and the superb piano playing of Johan Blohm. Their thirteenth studio album includes songs that echo both Edmunds and the Brinsley Schwarz-era work of his former mate Nick Lowe, and a big helping of the American music that fueled the Blasters and NRBQ.
The band’s original songs, mostly penned by bassist Joakim Arnell, include Jerry Lee-styled rave-ups, R&B rockers, stomping country two-steps, and the terrific Everly-inspired ballad “By Your Side.” Arnell writes clever songs in the Chuck Berry vein, essaying cars, women and the qualities of good women best described as features of high-end cars. They even take Berry’s “It’s My Own Business” out for a rollicking second-line spin. Much like Rockpile at their peak, the Refreshments are simultaneously nostalgic and vital. Their music is infused with the echoes of rock’s seminal years, but the rhythms, melodies, harmonies and themes remain timeless and alive in their highly competent hands.