The Faulkner Review: “So Tired is so Stonesy they’ll be disappointed not to have written it themselves . . .”

Incognito

Rick Shaffer is a singer and songwriter, as well as the founding member of the Philadelphia based band The Reds®. Their eponymous debut album led to live appearances with groups like The Police, Blondie, The Ramones and Public Image, amongst others. On a different label they released several critically acclaimed albums, which led to working with director Michael Mann, who incorporated their songs into the show Miami Vice. This led to writing for films and the song Terror In My Heart featured in Nightmare on Elm Street 2.

Along with session work, playing guitar for artists like Marianne Faithfull and Marc Almond, Rick started releasing solo albums, with Jitterbug Shake being his sixth. It contains ten tracks all written by Shaffer and has been produced to recreate the raw, overdriven sound of the garage rock groups of the Sixties like The Pretty Things and early Rolling Stones. These bands were inspired by the 50’s rockers like Chuck Berry, Slim Harpo and Link Wray, and those influences are manifest throughout this album.

Got to Know starts the album and makes immediate impact, with Shaffer’s swaggering Jagger-esque vocals delivered over the biting guitar twang of the great Chuck Berry and Link Wray records. The following Sure Thing is superb, a swampy blues number in 2/4, driven along by a riff that brought to mind Personal Jesus, one of Depeche Mode‘s rockier moments. Going Strong is another highlight, with a fantastic nah-nah chant on the addictive chorus and some wonderful lead guitar.

So Tired is so Stonesy that they’ll be disappointed not to have written it themselves, carried along by a jangling guitar riff that brought to mind their early classic The Last Time. Sixth track Just A Little is another fine blues rock track, while the fuzzy distortion of It’s True features a wild lead vocal drenched in slapback delay, a hallmark of 50’s rock n roll production.

Confidence Man and Break Of Day carry on the Stones vibe, while throwing harmonica and slide guitar into the musical mix. Can’t Go Back is a great homage to blues artist Jessie Mae Hemphill, while closing track Last Of Me is a perfect finale, with a mean guitar riff. It appropriately parts with the words ‘C’mon baby, do the Jitterbug Shake….’

Overall, this is a fantastic album that takes all the best elements of garage rock and combines them to create an arresting and potent sound. It manages to sidestep what could have become mere pastiche and revitalizes a sub genre of rock for the modern age, in a similar way to bands like The White Stripes and The Black Keys. Fans of those groups will find much to enjoy here.

Alex Faulkner ∎ The Faulkner Review

Verdict: 8.7 out of 10

Download a FREE mp3 of “SO TIRED” on SoundCloudJitterbug_BuyHERE

 

 

 

 

Photograph: “Incognito” ©2015 Theresa Marchione

“Cruel World” Licensed By Table Sixteen Productions

TableSixteen

 

Table Sixteen Productions has licensed “Cruel World” for the independent film Full Frame, directed by Christopher Kelley.  “Cruel World” is track 6 on Rick Shaffer’s album, Hidden Charms.Cover.HiddenCharms1

Full Frame is a taut, neo-noir throwback to the classic thrillers of the 1940’s, and features exceptional storytelling from director/writer Christopher Kelley, as well as his superb cinematography, along with a talented ensemble cast, highlighted by newcomers Charles Whitcomb, Frankie Murphy-Giesing, and Jeff Baird.

The Midwest Independent Film Festival will host the world premiere of Full Frame on August 4th, at the Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema in Chicago.  Director/writer Christopher Kelley, and producer Victoria Kelley, will be in attendance for a post-screening discussion with the audience.

In the meantime, watch the FULL FRAME TRAILER HERE

Rick Shaffer. . .”one of the last true outlaws of rock”

SleepingBagStudios

 

Considering I was bracing myself for something more akin to The Brian Setzer Orchestra, I’ve been breathing a steady sigh of relief listening to the music of Rick Shaffer’s latest album Jitterbug Shake, thankful that I’ve not been taken into the sounds of swing or anything ‘big-band.’ Something about that word ‘jitterbug’ I suppose…for me it conjures up a different sound altogether from the one I hear from Rick; this guy’s clearly based in rock through and through. Much more close to something along the lines of The Rolling Stones, Joe Jackson or dare I even say The Reverend Horton Heat…there’s a clear love for pure rock’n’roll here and a real commitment to the style & sound of the genre’s past. The result becomes a completely textured experience in recording and Jitterbug Shake is an impressive/unique album in today’s modern world; I have the feeling I could play this for a hundred people in a row and not one of them would be able to tell me this album didn’t come straight from the shelf of the 1960’s & 70’s.

JitterbugShake_FrontTruthfully…opening track “Got To Know” was what drew me to the majestic sounds and comparison to the psychobilly-rock of The Reverend Horton Heat. Like the twisted psychedelic-surf music they made so well, Rick Shaffer starts out Jitterbug in a similar style with far away guitars and a jangly, loose beat. His vocals have incredible character and a charismatic charm that make it endearing like Tom Waits finding his way in a rock song. The guitars are immaculate, as is the recording…with the everything-spiked-up to a classic overdriven sound on Jitterbug Shake, I might be a child of the eighties but I feel like I’m tripping out right into the sixties here.

That being said, I think the opening tune “Got To Know” also might slightly throw you as to what to typically expect from Shaffer in the vocal department. Throughout “Sure Thing” and the songs to follow he’ll tap into a much more purified strain of rock and damn near channel the young soul of Mick Jagger. Garage-blues-rock are words I see describing Rick’s sound…moments like “Sure Thing” go a long way to support that, whereas tracks like “Going Strong” leave behind the blues aspect completely, bring out the tambourines and large-anthem choruses to light up the rock-side of his music fully. I can’t quite put my finger on what it IS that I feel towards the album’s completely fresh sound & free-wheeling atmosphere when I know the sound itself is based so far back in our timeline. I’m sure Rick himself would tell you he’s far from re-inventing the wheel here…but I could make one hell of an argument that he’s patched one hell of a tire to get a classic vehicle rolling smoothly back on the road.

If anything, I honestly think there are times that come so close to old-school Stones music that he’s truly going to run the risk of people under thirty years old just ASSUMING they’re listening to The Rolling Stones! Listen to the roll through “So Tired” – if it wasn’t for Shaffer’s signature style of guitar-work, there would almost be no way to tell; the vocals, energy, performance…it’s all a real nod towards the classic Mick at his frantic-rock best. At the end of the day…those listening with some rock-history behind them will be able to discern the differences between what Shaffer’s doing, but that younger crowd is at the risk of not being able to make that distinction. “Just A Little” would be another perfect example…but man does Rick ever NAIL this sound through and through; with some added harmonica blending into this straight-ahead rock-rhythm, the build becomes a classic one – this is REAL rock.

“It’s True” has some of my favorite guitars on this record. Happily sliding around like a derby-car in the mud, Rick shreds through this song into a distorted glory all the way through to the finish. If anything…this might actually be the closest to my original expectation of what I might have been in for in listening to Jitterbug Shake, but still far enough away for me to be completely happy with what I’m hearing here. Just try and tell me that a track like “Confidence Man” doesn’t hold your interest! When you listen to it…and break it all down it becomes one of the strangest entities in straight-ahead combinations you’re likely to hear this year. It’s like the rolling bass of a song like “Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors, then you’ve got this harmonica with a melody line that sounds like someone singing The Beach Boys “Help Me Rhonda, Help, Help Me Rhonda” – it’s in a different key yeah…but I can’t shake why that’s popped into my head and now it lives there permanently in my brain. Then you take all that, combine it with a Mick Jagger sound and a Bob Dylan-esque song-structure and voila – here you are with “Confidence Man.” What I love aside from the combination, assembly and structure of this track…is that the guitars continually stand out on this record…Shaffer always takes a moment to really let it loose and take a solo moment or three, brilliantly flashing some incredible timing, precision, tone and skill each time.

While I didn’t feel too strongly one way or the other for “Break Of Day” I suppose I felt like this was one track that might have benefitted from a little more low-end to thicken up the recording and bust out of the overdriven tin of the overall sound…but in the interests of cohesion I understand the choice he’s made. It’s very interesting to my ears to hear an album with as much evenness in the amount of intensity of the sound; there are still plenty of dynamics, but the result of the method of recording it all way up like that also leaves little room for anywhere for the music itself to go in terms of versatility in the overall mix. A slight change may have worked here and driven Jitterbug Shake to a larger, expanded or more amped-up sound to the album’s ending…but perhaps not; at this point we know what to expect from Rick and he plays it out like a pro time after time, song after song. Nothing wrong with that and if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it, right? He understands his sound with the intense focus of a studious-pupil of the school of music and knows exactly where his strengths are within his talents; Rick makes the most out of his music by translating his pure desire to ROCK right into his amplifiers.

“Can’t Go Back” finds a real groove and becomes a hypnotic-rock song that’s laidback with a gentle stomping beat that drives the music. Rhythm and performance are all there once again, bending & sliding guitars, solid steady drums and some excellent moments from the harmonica adding to the mix. It’s songs like “Can’t Go Back” in which you can really hear how much an artist like Rick Shaffer wears his style and owns it with confidence. Just because the amplifiers get turned off at the end of the day does not mean that the pure rock’n’roll soul of this man goes to sleep – I’d be willing to bet you could find this guy fully rocking even in a grocery-store or a line-up at the bank.

Point being – you don’t end up this authentic overnight. Rick Shaffer’s Jitterbug Shake is his sixth solo release and it strongly indicates the hand of a seasoned veteran…a person that is out there representing rock’n’roll twenty-four hours a day. “Last Of Me” ends off the album with one final blast of excellence as he blasts through hook-laden riffs in the guitars and vocals. With kind of that wild-desperado feel to “Last Of Me,” you can’t help but feel like you’re listening to one of the last true outlaws of rock…his solos shred and the entire soul of this track is deep, darker than more of the tunes on Jitterbug Shake and a completely satisfying ending to a wicked experience in authentic & energetic throwback rock. Very cool stuff on this album from Rick Shaffer and definitely an artist with a massive amount of talent.

  • Jeremy Gladstone — Sleeping Bag Studios

You can read the Jitterbug Shake liner-notes & download a FREE mp3 of “So Tired” at this link ► http://www.tarockmusic.com/jitterbugshake.html

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph: “Saturn63” ©2015 Theresa Marchione

“Jitterbug Shake” ► The songwriting is snark, lean and mean!

Independent Music News“Jitterbug Shake”  is the sixth solo recording by The Reds® guitarist, Rick Shaffer.  The album was recorded with almost every song and instrument pushing the needle into the red. Normally, that would be a problem, except for the fact that the repertory was written and conceived by Shaffer – who lives and dies for his vision of garage blues  – with the likes of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Slim Harpo, and early British Pretty Things and Rolling Stones in mind.  The album features Shaffer on vocals and guitars backed by the solid rhythm section of bassist Leon Wingfield, drummer Les Chisholm, and Boo Boo Spencer on percussion.

Let me get this out of the way quickly. If you truly love what is base and uncontrollable in garage blues and rock n’ roll, and if you understand that all which is organically driven, raucous and loud is still truly alive, then just get this!

They say there’s really only so much you can do, when you play garage blues-rock; you can turn it up; you can make it messier; you can rip off another garage blues-rock band that sounds slightly different to the one you were ripping off before, or you can simply die young. Rick Shaffer hasn’t done any one of those things yet!

Just when you think that after all these years Rick Shaffer had run out of corners in his garage, he stretches to continue to do new, interesting things within the confines of his musical palate. “Jitterbug Shake,” Shaffer’s sixth solo album, is a rebirth of sorts. Produced by hotshot Shaffer himself and engineered by Charlie Crawford, the sound here mixes a cleaned-up vibe with overdriven, rough-around-the-edges tones, working to brilliant results.

Boasting a production value and sound that at once resembles both The Stooges and early-era Rolling Stones, the 10 songs on “Jitterbug Shake” pass quickly and with variety. The songwriting is snarkier, leaner, and meaner than it has been in a while. At his best, on cuts like opener “Got To Know,” “Going Strong,” “So Tired,” “Just A Little,” “Confidence Man”  and “Break Of Day,” Shaffer digs his way through the best sounds of the 60s right until yesterday, never hiding behind production choices or the usual rock n’ roll clichés. Once again in his already lengthy — and incredibly busy career — Shaffer has put up a complete work to be taken seriously by all rock n’ roll and garage blues fans.

There’s variety and cohesion here that no one probably expects from an artist known more as a hell-bound, garage-blues rock n’ roller. Make no mistake, with “Jitterbug Shake,” Rick Shaffer proves once and for all that he’s the real deal. Rather than hide behind a kitschy style and rock poseur moves, he has whipped up a highly satisfying batch of songs that pays tribute to his own authentic instrumental artistry, and that of his backing band.

Moreover, here Shaffer shows considerable range while his ear for melodies has simply matured with his musical phrases turning into unexpected earworms. If you’re a Rick Shaffer fan, or simply a garage blues aficionado, this is the album you’ve been waiting for!

Read the album Liner Notes and download a FREE mp3 of track 4, “So Tired” at this link ► http://www.tarockmusic.com/jitterbugshake.html