|Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA|
|Rick Shaffer’s album, “Hidden Charms,” continues, expands, and nicely follows-up the feel of his first solo album, “Necessary Illusion,” released March of 2010.|
|Biography: Rick Shaffer is the founding member of the Philadelphia, PA band, The Reds™, whose first album on A&M, entitled “The Reds,” is a combination of textures dense with electronic chaos brought to the edge of madness, then resolved into piercing clarity. The album, produced by David Kershenbaum, showed the band’s impressive sound . . . a blend of Rick Shaffer’s guitar and Bruce Cohen’s keyboards into an interestingly textured drone, short guitar and keyboard figures, rising then disappearing back into the drone, while Shaffer’s voice provides the punch and definition for their overall sound. The album was supported with live appearances with such diverse acts as The Police, Joe Jackson, Blondie, The Ramones, The Psychedelic Furs, and Public Image.
“The Reds” was followed by an A&M EP, featuring The Doors song, “Break On Through,” which suggests some of the band’s roots. After leaving A&M, The Reds went forward with two independent albums, “Stronger Silence” and “Fatal Slide” (Stony Plain/RCA), that continued The Reds™ sound, receiving critical acclaim internationally.
They next recorded a tense and powerful album for Sire/WB entitled, “Shake Appeal,” produced by Mike Thorne (Blur, Soft Cell, Wire). This forcible record led the band to work with director/producer, Michael Mann. Mann incorporated numerous Reds songs into episodes of Miami Vice, and was so impressed with the impact of the songs he hired Shaffer and Cohen to write songs and score for two motion pictures, “Band Of The Hand” (Tri-Star) and “Manhunter” (De Laurentiis), based on the novel “Red Dragon.” Soundtrack albums from both films were released on MCA, and a “Manhunter” CD (with an added Reds track, “Jogger’s Stakeout”), was released by Intrada Records, March 2010.
Some solo projects for Shaffer at this time included recording guitar tracks on a Marianne Faithfull album (Island); Hilly Kristal’s, “Mad Mordechai” (Stereo Society); Peter Murphy’s, “Holy Smoke” (Beggars Banquet/BMG); and Marc Almond’s, “Fantastic Star” (Some Bizarre/Mercury). And, in 2004, Rick was recruited by director, Michael Mann, to write and record, “Looking For Right,” for the film, “Collateral.”
The Reds™ next album, “Cry Tomorrow” (Tarock) reunited them with British producer Mike Thorne. It captures the driving intensity of earlier albums and the ambient, atmospheric feel from their film scores, resulting in a stark, surreal album, with a sense of mood and mystery. The pulsing opening track, “Terror In My Heart,” was featured in the film, “Nightmare On Elm Street 2” (New Line), directed by Jack Shoulder. Along with the bone crushing title track, “Cry Tomorrow,” a searing non-stop groove of the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” the introduction of various percussive elements, and a diversity of background vocals, all create an experimental and manic energy that reaches inside your head and won’t let go.
In 2007, the critically acclaimed album, “Fugitives From The Laughing House” (Tarock) was released. Written and produced by The Reds™, the ride starts with the street fighting “Wild” and “Little Cisco,” through the hypnotic stroll of “Ringing The Bell” and “Dum Dum Dice,” and does not let up until the end with the grinding Dub laced “Gunn’s Suicide,” and slow death burn of “Can’t Bring You Back Again,” which feels like a dying man’s last breath. “Fugitives From The Laughing House” is a straight forward raw nerve reflection of life in America. In 2008, “Lethal Dose” (track #10) inspired British director, Peter McAdam, to shoot an independent film short, also entitled, Lethal Dose.
The Reds™ February 2009 release, “Early Nothing” (Tarock), was also written and produced by Shaffer and Cohen. The album has a hypnotic quality, that leaves the listener free to let their subconscious play itself out, no matter where it goes, while maintaining the simplicity of the moment. With the release of Early Nothing, The Reds™, shamans of dark, brooding, loud rock continue to explore and define their sound. This album inspired McAdam to create a film short of “So Long.”
Rick Shaffer’s first solo album, “Necessary Illusion” (Tarock 2010) is a ten song neo-sixties, garage blues excursion, with a Joe Meek and Excello Records production style. The album’s sonic signature is a raw, swirl of distorted guitar, atmospheric percussion, stark droning hill country blues, in a mix of “Excello Records” style reverb.
Shaffer’s second solo venture, “Hidden Charms” (Tarock 2011), continues, expands, and nicely follows-up the feel of “Necessary Illusion.” The idea is to have the album sound new and old simultaneously, allowing it to find it’s place in a radio mix from 1965 and beyond. The sonic blueprint is a proto–garage rock/blues, distorted guitar, with melodies buried beneath a mash-up of unadulterated garage vibe. Inspired by Link Wray’s Swan Singles Collection, early Stones, and heavy doses of Mississippi Hill Country Blues Bop. The basic track sound is a simple, but steady primitive hypnotic beat and percussion, ultra distorted guitar, and aggressive raw vocals with intense personal lyric content.
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