Misadventure ∎ “Leaves you stunned, yet wanting another hit.”

?????????Veteran singer-songwriter Rick Shaffer recently released Misadventure, his fifth solo album via Tarock Music.  The well-regarded songwriter’s storied career began in the late 70’s when he fronted the Philadelphia based New Wave band The Reds®, whose self-titled debut album was released on A&M Records to great praise from critics and fans alike.  The band also went on to release records for Sire/Warner Brothers Records and had their music placed in several episodes of the original Miami Vice television series and movies like Nightmare On Elm Street 2.  Additionally, Shaffer and keyboard player, Bruce Cohen got into composing film scores and music for soundtracks which led to Shaffer writing/composing, “Looking For Right,” for Michael Mann’s 2004 film, Collateral.  Recently, Universal Music reissued re-mastered versions of The Reds®’ classic albums as many of them had been long out of print.

Alongside reunion albums from The Reds® and more film scores, Shaffer has set out on a solo career, releasing his debut solo album in 2010.  Over the years he has crafted a brand of grungy 60’s garage-rock that incorporates touches of howling blues, backwoods country and snarling punk rock that remains planted in his past yet simultaneously fresh and modern.  He also takes great pride in the production and sound of each album, utilizing influences like Phil Spector to create a thick wall of sound as well as the raw and classic Nashville blues sound of Excello Records.  Altogether, his strong songwriting and keen ear for timeless production gives his music a nostalgic pull that pays homage to his influences without even a hint of pastiche. Misadventure was written, produced and performed entirely by Rick himself, save for additional drums and percussion from guests Les Chisholm, Del Robinson, Anna Burne and Boo Boo Spencer.

The album opens with the dueling guitar melodies and scuzzy blues rock of “Fooling Me” that recalls hair metal’s sleaze-filled glory days.  The first single, “Some Say” follows with Shaffer’s growling vocal presence set to a sinister, whip-cracking rhythm and guitars drenched in Link Wray-inspired surf rock reverb for a standout moment.  Shaffer heeds his own advice on the rollicking and aptly-titled “Turn It Up,” with its loud, ringing guitars, swaying vocal melodies and fun, sing-along background vocals, it gets the party started.  As a change of pace, “Out Of Time” offers a shuffling country rhythm, old timey harmonica and some southern vocal twang. Next, the catchy “Falling Down” adds some David Bowie-esque 70’s glam rock to Shaffer’s blues-drenched garage rock sound to great effect.  With buzzing guitars that veer off into a high-pitched twang and a swaggering 60’s rhythm “Commotion” sure causes one, sounding like the Rolling Stones in a back alley blues club for another standout moment.

“Get It” follows that up with a hip-shaking rhythm and some distorted blues rock guitar riffs complete with a melodic guitar solo as Shaffer adopts a slurring vocal swagger.  As a nod to The Reds®, “Listen Now” features a propulsive New Wave beat, punk-informed gang vocals and several blistering guitar solos.  Another testament to Shaffer’s clever arranging and songwriting is “To The Top,” a rip-roaring blend of British Invasion, classic rock guitar heroics, Ramones-like energy and bluesy harmonica.  On paper, those things should not work as well as they do in his hands. Help Me Now” blends blues rock riffs with surf rock rhythms and the strutting “Gone Gone Gone” boasts slinky slide guitar and an anthemic, sing-along refrain for a nice late album one-two punch. Closing out the twelve track album is “Another High” which rides out on a wave of noise-addled distorted guitars and wailing harmonica, leaving you stunned, yet wanting another hit.

With his latest album, Misadventure, Rick Shaffer has crafted yet another great album of diverse 60’s-inspired garage-rock that only adds to his long list of great accomplishments.

∎ Justin Kreitzer

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(After years of playing in various bands, and managing a record store, Justin Kreitzer turned his experienced ear and lifelong passion for music into Atlas and the Anchor, the ever-growing indie music blog.  He’s also a contributing writer for Fabricoh Magazine, the Dayton City Paper, and does PR for Misra Records.)

DOWNLOAD A FREE mp3 OF “SOME SAY” HERE.

Scope’s Jimmy Rae ∎ “Rick Shaffer crashing the mainstream music party”

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I had the pleasure of reviewing Rick Shaffer’s second solo album titled ‘Hidden Charms’ back in 2011 for Skope and I knew then that Rick had a special quality about him.  His latest release and now 5th solo effort, ‘Misadventure’, proves that Shaffer’s ‘Hidden Charms’ are revealed once and for all by way of his adventurous sound.  Sticking with many of the same elements as ‘Hidden Charms’, Rick is hoping that ‘Misadventure’ will climb its way to the top.

Just as before, one will hear that raw, edgy garage rock/garage blues appeal to go along with that vintage 60’s rock ‘n’ roll vibe.  With a heavy focus on the likes of Link Wray and the early Rolling Stones material, Shaffer and his fellow musicians are taking you back to the early days but with an original twist.  The album is written and produced by Rick Shaffer as he is also responsible for the vocals, guitars, bass, fuzz bass, harmonica and percussion.  Additional players on the record include: Les Chisholm, Del Robinson and Anna Burne on drums and percussion along with Boo Boo Spencer on bass drum, spoons and percussion, and Teddy “Boy” Rixon on additional bass.  Together they have created something I would like to call Rocky Mountain Blues where Rock & Blues collide to give you one vast and explosive sound.

The new album starts off with a bang on “Fooling Me” with a rockin’ groove and beat to go along with Rick’s unique vocals that appear out-of-whack with the music at first but it gradually works itself out as the song rolls along.  You’re definitely getting that stripped down, garage band vibe all the way with even a bit of some punk rock influence from Rick’s vocal delivery on track 2 “Some Say.”  As the record spins away Rick is channeling early Stones and Mick Jagger to the point where it’s actually uncanny at times.  I had to stop myself at moments thinking “wait a minute, that’s not Mick Jagger, or is it?  And if so, where is he and what have you done with Rick Shaffer!”   All jokes aside, it really is amazing how Rick was able to tap into his inner Mick with the “Jagger-isms” in full force!  On song 11, “Gone Gone Gone,” get ready to go south for some swampy, rocky blues where Shaffer and company are not holding back anything.  There are also some excellent guitar riffs and hooks throughout this album along with some fine harmonica playing.

My only advice as I said earlier is to not replicate the original artist too closely because that could get you in trouble and also take away from the overall originality and tone of the recording.  Other than that I simply love what Rick has done here on ‘Misadventure’ with his take on classic rock and blues.  It’s daring … it’s bold … it’s Rick Shaffer crashing the mainstream music party with open arms!  In the words of the great Ricky Nelson and The Allman Brothers, what can I say other than Rick Shaffer is a “Ramblin’, “Travelin’ Man” moving from here to there with no boundaries in place and plenty to say.  A train’s a comin’ and Rick Shaffer’s hoppin’ aboard while chuggin’ along with some good, old-fashioned Rocky Mountain Blues.

∎ Jimmy Rae | SCOPE (jrae2@att.net) Rating: 4 (out of 5)

Bluesbunny UK ∎ “Rick Shaffer keeps on doing what he does best”

 

BluesbunnyLogoRick Shaffer is back with his fifth solo album “Misadventure” and, you might well be glad to know, the musical story he tells remains the same with his raw and abrasive take on the garage rock sound once more to the fore.

Some new faces have been drafted in and that fills the sound out a bit even though the spirit of collaboration sometimes seems lost given the one man on a journey vibe that pervades the album. In Mr Shaffer’s favour, he has taken the time to throw in some commercially viable songs like “Out Of Time” this time around to remind us all of the time when he, and his then band The Reds®, represented a clear and present danger to the charts.

So there you have it. Rick Shaffer keeps on doing what he does best and that’s no bad thing in my book.

BLUESBUNNY

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The Reds® ● Do You Play The Game

TheRedsThe electronic wall of sound  of “Do You Play The Game,”  track 7 on the worldwide release of The Reds® second album, Stronger Silence (1981) was a follow-up to their A&M album, The Reds (1979) .  Stronger Silence is a more atmospheric and darker sound than their earlier recordings, but it did not change The Reds® basic attitude and experimental approach to their music . . . a sound that hooks you, takes you out there, then lays you six feet under.

Stronger Silence features interesting ambient keyboard textures, very reminiscent of some of Brian Eno’s early work with Roxy Music, while continuing the assault with Rick Shaffer’s cutting, driving guitars and brooding vocals, with dark lyrical content to make for a trip into a world where there may be no return.

The music of the day inspired the young, freed the scared, and scared the old.   The 1980’s photographs offer a glimpse of what the world was like music wise, and culturally, in New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, London, Paris, Berlin,  and Moscow.

Listen to “Do You Play The Game” and watch the video HERE

All download options for Stronger Silence mp3’s are at the following link . . . http://www.theredsmusic.com/strongersilence/buystrongersilence.html

Rick Shaffer’s Back Into The Stylistic Sense Of Garage Blues

Misadventure_600x600For Rick Shaffer, his career in the music industry has been an arduous, but worthwhile process and experience. After founding the band The Reds®, who had their first album and EP on A&M (The Reds, and Green With Envy), followed by several more independent  albums for Stony Plain (Stronger Silence, and Fatal Slide), and Tarock Music (Cry Tomorrow, Fugitives From The Laughing House, and Early Nothing ), Shaffer made the definitive decision to embark on his journey as a solo artist. Over the past couple of years, Shaffer has made sure to release new solo music, every year, ranging from his first solo album in 2010, Necessary Illusion; his 2011 release Hidden Charms; his third solo release Idiot Flats in 2012; his 2013 release Stacked Deck, and most recently, his 2014 solo venture, Misadventure.  His latest release takes Shaffer back into the stylistic sense of garage blues, unleashing a 12-track album dominated by distortion and phenomenal hooks.

The opening track, “Fooling Me” is the textbook definition of a jamming, driving, bright blues track. The song’s grooving, consistent percussion heightens the track, emphasized by the repetitive, smoothly played ride cymbal tapping and constant snare drum strikes, which occur on beats two and four of every measure. Accompanying the driving percussion is the dominance of Shaffer’s vocals and the grungy and distorted, yet melodic guitar strumming. Amidst the powerful instrumental parts, Shaffer still manages to vocally control the track with his rough, raspy voice that drifts above the guitar tones and heavy drumming.

Following the opening track is “Some Say,” and on it, Shaffer doesn’t allow the mood to simmer down, nor does he allow the pace to slow down. A faster-tempo track complete with driving, strong instrumentals, “Some Say” is an impeccable track to follow “Fooling Me,” as it keeps with the strong, rocking nature. The percussion in “Some Say” seems to identify with more of a rock influence versus the percussion heavily influenced by blues on the first track.  However, the influence of blues on Shaffer’s music is still audible through the melodies and underlying tones conveyed by the electric guitar’s riffs. Noticeable on “Some Say” is how Shaffer allows his voice to smooth out, permitting his delivery to be gentler, compared to the first track. Though the gruffness of his voice is still heard, Shaffer doesn’t overreach for higher notes, which allows him to demonstrate his vocal control, but still with a semblance of roughness and raspiness. Even until the song fades away, Shaffer continues rocking out, never letting the jam session truly end. “Some Say” is another grooving track, proving that Shaffer knows the exact formula to create a composition that everyone will rock out to.

Stylistically, blues remains the foundation of Shaffer’s Misadventure, but it’s interesting to hear how he experiments and formulates his own definition of blues and rock. His experimentations are overheard on the album’s standout tracks, which include “Out of Time,” “Falling Down and “To The Top.”

With “Out of Time,” Shaffer doesn’t deviate from his standard formula of punchy, energetic percussion combined with grungy, reverberating guitar riffs, but the experimentation comes from his other choices in instrumentation. Along with his usual instrumentation, Shaffer adds on a sweeping, melodic harmonica part that immediately grabs the listener’s attention. Though a minor addition, the harmonica part shifts the dynamic of the entire composition, enforcing Shaffer’s blues tendencies. Along with the harmonica, Shaffer adds a tambourine part to the track’s percussion, a consistent and supportive choice, which never stops its sixteenth note rhythms. “Out of Time” is an instrumentally jam-packed composition, one that never lacks in energy, and one that never makes one want to stop listening.

“Falling Down” is more of a mid-tempo number, strengthened by its instrumental introduction. Leading in with smooth, masterful guitar solo and the striking of a crash cymbal on beats one and three, Shaffer opts for a unique way to begin the track. Quickly, Shaffer’s voice enters the track, but it doesn’t resonate with as much dominance as usual, as if he’s trying to give the instruments the platform to dominate. The overpowering instruments do takeaway from Shaffer’s vocals at times, sometimes precluding the listener from hearing the vocals as well as possible. The cymbal hits and rock-influenced, grunge guitar and bass parts are what control “Falling Down,” which make for an instrumentally strong track where the instruments are very much in the listeners’ face.

On “To The Top,” Shaffer returns to his blues roots, but a noticeable aggressiveness is overheard in his vocals: it’s a new Shaffer with even more power and dominance. On “Falling Down” his ability to command a track may have been questionable, but Shaffer refutes any hesitations with “To The Top.” With the accompaniment of light tambourine, auxiliary percussion, electrifying guitar strumming, and the sporadic harmonica, Shaffer yells out, “Take it back to the top | I ain’t running no more, from those things I should ignore | The only thing I been running from that heartbreak that I know will come | Living in some dream of yesterday | Take it back to the top.”  Even as the instrumentals try to collide with his vocals, nothing can take away from Shaffer’s vocal performance on “To The Top.” While he’s proven that he can command a track, there’s a certain demanding nature to his voice on “To the Top” that showcases the true power and strength his voice has.

The album concludes with “Another High” which is a track that has a strong sense of all that Misadventure represents: strong and eclectic instrumentation, grungy and distorted guitar riffs, and raw, commanding vocals. The guitar lead that introduces the track fuels the song’s positive vibes, along with the snare drum strikes and harmonica riffs that shortly follow. With this track, Shaffer creates a mood that’ll permit listeners to chill out, relax, and truly enjoy the jam-session taking place. There’s nothing awfully flashy about the concluding track, other than the slick guitar undertones or wavering harmonica melodies. Overall, to conclude Misadventure, Shaffer capitalizes on his strengths of producing remarkably rocking and grooving tracks.

It’s inevitable that listeners will jam along with, tap their fingers to, and nod their heads along to Shaffer’s songs on Misadventure. However, what is most admirable about Misadventure isn’t necessarily how infectious it can be, but how raw the album is. It’s easily heard through Shaffer’s passionate, commanding vocals and the masterful instrumentation that music is Shaffer’s craft – a craft that he’s never given up on. The production on the album is never too high-end, but that contributes to the album’s rawness and its overall vibe. There’s a decent range of sounds throughout Misadventure, but what truly makes it stand out is that it’s all about the craft. Shaffer is an artist who intends on continuously mastering his craft and producing blues-influenced, strong songs, which is what Misadventure alludes to.

∎ Alexa Spieler

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(Alexa Spieler’s diverse writing covers subjects such as the Vans Warped Tour, which began in 1995 as a showcase for punk rock, the annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day tennis event, as well as reviewing various music genre albums and singles.)