Jimmy Rae Says “Yeahh Baby” To Hidden Charms

Following up his debut solo album from last year called, ‘Necessary Illusion,’ Rick Shaffer reveals to you ‘Hidden Charms’. This multidimensional artist not only played the role of singer, guitarist, bassist and percussionist, but also wrote and produced the entire record. Additional members backed up Shaffer wonderfully to help ‘Hidden Charms’ become discovered gems.

Rick has plenty of experience playing with his band The Reds, but now looks to make a mark as a solo act. The 10 tracks on this CD would indicate that Shaffer has stolen the spotlight. Listening to this disc felt like I was literally taking a trip back in time to when the hair was long and the mood was far out. Rick Shaffer exhibits a style and feeling that screams 60s rock ‘n’ roll all the way. Rick is rolling together some rock and blues that will leave you feeling completely satisfied. I couldn’t help but notice a strong Rolling Stones/Mick Jagger-type vibe coming forth that focused on those early bluesy rock days. The Stones feel was heavy and the Jagger-isms were highly evident which was very cool to hear but you have to be careful to not mimic too closely. I gotta hear a Rolling Stones cover now after experiencing Rick Shaffer’s musical display so go for it!

I really love the fact that Shaffer is not afraid to play outside the box and has no room for mindless 2011 and beyond pop tart songs. People in the world will always move forward but Rick Shaffer and his music will instantly take you back to a different era. It almost seems like Rick was searching for just the right mojo for this project and man did he find it– “YEAHH BABY!” (Austin Powers aka Mike Myers).

Vocally and musically, Shaffer exhibited a very raw approach that was stripped down to the bone. Early garage band appeal at its finest as Shaffer and company brought the goods! Plenty of hip tambourine playing and distorted guitar chords made for one groovin’ listening experience. ‘Hidden Charms’ is lost no more and I can’t wait to see what Rick Shaffer pulls out of his magical mystery bag next!

• Jimmy Rae • SKOPE • jrae@skopemag.com
• Rating: 4 (OUT OF 5)


This far too short review will not do the record justice. Old school Philly guy (also in The Reds®) who offers up his 2nd solo record with some nice down home rock, where that spot between blues and rockabilly meets up. My pick to click is the slow, murky “Buy And Sell.”

• Handsome Don • Daggerzine

KZSU’s Imaginary Friend “Channels” Hidden Charms

Channeling Elvis, Link Wray, Flat Duo Jets. One man studio band with a little help, “old school” proving that the recipe still can work. Big guitar and vocals, sounds like its gonna be tradi-rock but then psyche and garbage can weirdness appears. Great stuff. Play with new Crystal Stilts, Doo Rag, all things John Spencer (e.g. Boss Hog, etc), Tav Falco and the Panther Burns, Detroit Cobras, White Stripes.

1. NO BIG THING – swampy, bouncy hip shaking (BEST TRACK?).
2. BUY AND SELL – slower jangle with tambourine.
3. SHADOW LINE – chorus effect on guitar gives this a strange 80’s new wave meets garage feel.
4. NOBODY HOME – swamp blues rhythm and mean tone, nice.
5. CRIME OF LOVE – tambourine, very Stones’y.
6. CRUEL WORLD – bluesy and soulful, slide guitar takes the spotlight.
7. BREAKIN’ DOWN – darker, fuzzier, cool guitar embellishments (BEST TRACK?).
8. GONNA SHOUT – upbeat and the fuzziness ramps up a notch, yeah!
9. THIGHT LIKE THAT – swampy smarmy blues, what Aerosmith dreams of in the old folks home.
10. THE STRANGER – slow epic bad assed blues swing, takes no prisoners.

KZSU • Stanford Radio 90.1 FM • ZOOKEEPER
Your Imaginary Friend • Reviewed 2011-05-01


Rick Shaffer’s sophomore solo record, Hidden Charms, is a gritty, fuzzy, and dusty blues-rock album that is perfect for long car rides and smoky bars. It starts abruptly, almost as if we missed the first few seconds of the first song, entitled “No Big Thing.” However, in a form-matching-content sense, that’s not a big deal, not a big thing. And that is because the album nonchalantly moves into the second track, “Buy And Sell,” which is by far my favorite song on the album, perhaps because it is the most memorable. Initially, I get the sensation that the track is a downer song, based off the tone of the melody over the first 45 seconds of the song; then all of the sudden, it starts to lift up, and so does the feeling it gives off to the listener. In songs in general, I appreciate the sour and the sweet, the dark and the light, and this track melds those oppositions into a catchy, groovy tune.

It is no wonder to me that Shaffer has experience writing songs for films. I didn’t need to know that he had penned a few songs for a couple of Michael Mann films, and songs for other movies back when he and Bruce Cohen were together in a group called The Reds™ — because this album feels like the soundtrack to a film yet to be written. Each track seems to fit a different scene. Track three, “Shadow Line,” could be either the opening shot’s song, when the plot is being set up right from the get-go, or it could be the credit music, foreshadowing the sequel. (Incidentally, this is also the song where the title of the record is born, with some of the few lyrics I can without-a-doubt make out.)

“Cruel World,” track six, could suit the flirty love scene, where the main character and his love interest meet for the first time — perhaps on a dance floor? And, though this may sound obvious, the final track of the album, “The Stranger,” could be the theme song for the villain of the film. I’m envisioning Jim Jarmusch directing this would-be film, whereby the essence of Shaffer’s songs match Jarmusch’s storytelling style, both give off a real time or real life feel as we listen to or watch the various adventures of a rebel or loner protagonist.

Shaffer’s voice is unique, possessing a cool-guy drawl. Fortunately or unfortunately, the lyrics are a little muffled, as previously indicated, but most of the time that only adds to the intrigue. Track eight, “Gonna Shout,” incorporates some background male vocals that fit remarkably well for being quite simple. I could envision this being a single for the album, like with “Buy And Sell.” Shaffer’s guitar playing predicates itself on various levels of distortion, all dependent on the feeling of the particular track; but there is a constant presence of slow fuzz throughout the album giving it a laid-back allure.