This jam pops up in the bins all the time. Seen it priced between $3-$8. I’ve seen two versions of it – one on bottle green vinyl, and one on good ol’ black. I first was introduced to this record by my comrade JG and have since played it at home and at my random DJ sets around Columbus. I did some research and found out some interesting stuff. The Reds® were started in Philadelphia, PA by Rick Shaffer (guitar, vocals) and Bruce Cohen (keyboards) in the 70’s and, from what I gather, are still active in some form or another. They have worked with famous director/producer Michael Mann, who used their music in episodes of, get ready for it, Miami Vice, as well as some movies. They have also worked on numerous movie and theater scores, both as a band and as individuals.
Their self-titled first LP, which came out in 1979 on A&M, is my favorite work of theirs. I also want to point out that the cover artwork pretty much suggests what the listener is in for, in a good way. A great blend of mid-tempo angular punk rock and catchy synth new wave, it’s got great songs all over it, kicking off with the sweet intro to the opener Victims, which starts with a straight drum beat before the rest of the band comes in framed by the radio-dial-like synths. Rick Shaffer’s vocals project every bit of emotion, expressed in the lyrics. A great singer! Also, hats off to his sweet riffs. My favorite tune on here is the closer, Self Reduction. It’s one of the slower and darker numbers on the record. But it’s also the one where Cohen delivers my favorite synth line of almost any out there. It’s simple and somehow perfect.
I often wondered why this record is not as revered as some of its contemporaries. And I’m not talking about the wider audiences here. But you know, yer average punk who’s got some taste, I feel, should be all over this. This noise is not unlike some really early Cure, Plastic Idols, or even Devo. I have bought copies of it for a couple of my friends, who were pretty excited upon hearing it. I hope more people check this jam out! Also, if you dig this LP check out their subsequent releases, a more aggressive Stronger Silence (1981), and a darker Fatal Slide (1982). There’s also a 10” that came out on A&M the same year as the self-titled, which has two songs from the album, and one that’s not. It also has a very cool take on the Doors’ Break On Through. Che-che-che-eck it out!
∎ Aleks Shaulov — Sonic Crapshoot Blog — February 24, 2014