Rebecca Cullen Reviews Rick Shaffer’s “Stolen Moments”



After experiencing the strength of Rick Shaffer’s previous album Outside Of Time the prospect of a new project to indulge in was an exciting one. In actual fact, if at all possible, Stolen Moments is even more of an explosion of energy, passion and grit than the former, and it’s addictively entertaining.

All I Want is the opener, and what a way to begin. Full throttle rock and roll, authentic grit and gravel in the voice and the distortion. Notably different to anything else I’ve heard from the songwriter, All I Want has something deeply real about it – the lyrics seem consumed by the chaos and beauty of being human, being lost within a lust for making music. It’s not dissimilar to the incomparably honest sound of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The sound of Rick’s voice is superb, stylish and powerful, emotional, entirely engaged and seemingly married to this music and this artistry.

Downtown Suzy explodes in an equally attention grabbing manner. The guitars are out of this world, and the melodies and riffs featured bring about a touch of country rock, a hint of Primal Scream, a varied sense of songwriting and a definite moment of certainty and character. One In Five swings the indie anthem bat and offers up a memorable guitar riff and a song with plenty of space surrounding the lyrics, so you get a real sense of storytelling, as well as a further helping of almighty rock and roll.

Modern Lie is a huge song; from the moment it begins there’s something striking and quite special about it. The chord progression, the slightly softer sound, the additional vocal parts, the melody, the build up to the hook – this one is a stunning bit of songwriting. You can take home a copy of this song in an instant, for free; just click the link below…

Another beautifully honest and compelling song is Other One. This track leaves its mark for a number of reasons, not least of all that inherent depth and passion that comes through in the reflective storytelling, and the emotional vocal performance; gentler here for the most part. There’s a real touch of humanness to the writing and Rick Shaffer undoubtedly has a way with poetic expression, as well as a unique and interesting perspective on life. A fantastic song.

Higher is an infectiously enjoyable track, the rhythm and vibrancy of the piece just pours out through the speakers and incites a craving to witness the whole thing being performed live. The full band, real time experience is likely to be insanely good. There’s a sense of urgency to the song and it fills you with enthusiasm and a certain lust for life, in the way that only truly expressive, authentic music can. Rick Shaffer’s passion is incomparable, it drives these songs with intense purity and realness, and fortunately, his unquestionable level of experience means that every track is skilfully and effectively crafted.

There’s another moment of somewhat lighter rock and roll with Time Stays. The guitar riff running throughout creates a further touch of country rock and blues, and as the song progresses, the melody varies a little, and the good vibes seem to multiply. Call My Name follows on from this brilliantly. Stolen Moments is really a project that just gets better and better as it moves along. The sound becomes familiar, the energy settles in for the long run, and the ideas presented take on a new level of personality and intrigue.

Chopping Wood is a song in a world of its own. The opening instrumentation has the ultimate level of grit and boldness that just oozes creative freedom and storms into your consciousness with a manic sort of power. Then you get the final track of the collection, the smooth and seductive hit that is Danger Awaits. There’s a sense of space again here, the beat is thick and heavy yet mellow in pace, the reverb-soaked solo guitar moments flicker in and out of the mix. The bass line is spectacular – simple but solid in its attitude and relevance to the mood. And of course, right there on top of everything, Rick Shaffer’s vocal strength and immediacy offers up the concept and the story line as one last reminder of his unwavering presence, as one last stolen moment even. The artist is unstoppable, and the quality of the music is at an all time high.

• Rebecca Cullen (Musician and writer with an MA in Songwriting.)

                             Watch the “Modern Lie” video YouTube




2017 marks Rick Shaffer’s eighth solo album, “Stolen Moments”, which was inspired by the concept that there are no guarantees or promises in life.  Throughout his career, Shaffer has turned over every possible stone, and he’s decimated them all into a thousand pieces. He helped jump start punk rock, merged seamlessly into garage rock and found success with The Reds©, a band he co-founded, he has since found his way to solo punk and garage rock releases among other projects. That all makes his new record an incredibly hard act to follow. What else is there left to conquer? The proto-garage raver to end all garage ravers, that’s what!

Rick Shaffer’s art balances garage primitivism and smart rock craft, which will frequently draw avant-gardists and casual listeners alike, to his unique rock n’ roll fervor. Combining jagged, roaring guitars and fast-slow dynamics with raw melodic vocals, intertwining harmonics, and evocative, lyrics, Shaffer is an accomplished musicians who is not afraid to wail and bash out chords while his lead guitar squeals out spirals of beautiful noise.

The music’s shrieking power will cover every emotional and intellectual territory inside your cluttered brain, as “Stolen Moments” pushes the envelope, redefines, and ultimately sets fire to the foundations of everything currently found under the rock tag and all its sub-genres.

It is of course, abrasive in parts, but it is not inaccessible to even mainstream radio. I could easily imagine tracks such as Downtown Suzy”, Modern Lie, Time Strays and Call My Name blaring from my radio. It may take some time to get past the squalls of raw power, but once you do, it is easy to see that this actually is a very melodic album. The guitars wail and scream and Shaffer uses his instrument like few others do today. A great full-length from one of the smartest, ingenuous artists foraging within the genre, in my humble opinion.

No theatrics, no sense of hip or cool. Just the basics. The performances themselves are delivered in variable doses of bone crushing, elegance, beauty, raw, power, and color. The great thing about Rick Shaffer is that he is an artist that does everything so right. The vocals are fierce and emotive, Teddy Rixon’s bass like loud, delicate thunder, Stevie Carlisle’s drums smart, inventive, and solidly anchored.

And then there is Shaffer’s guitar, bearing the responsibility of bringing all those twisted, sonic sounds right into your stereo. Of course, there are the songs that exult those qualities, among them: All I Want, One In Five, Higher, Chopping Wood and Danger Awaits. Rick Shaffer is for real, and “Stolen Moments” is an immense creative process transformed into musical form, one that is impossible to ignore.


Tarock Music’s 2012 Review



HAPPY NEW YEAR!  We hope 2013 will be the best year ever for all of us.  Everyone at Tarock Music was busy throughout 2012.  We had lots of activity with ventures completed and started to pave the way into 2013, and following are a few of the highlights.

We started off the year with Rick Shaffer’s video, Buy And Sell, from his Hidden Charms album, being nominated for a Rock Wired Radio Music Award.

Universal Music Group digitally re-released two Reds albums – The Reds and Green With Envy.  As well, as soundtracks that Rick Shaffer and Bruce Cohen wrote songs and score for, Manhunter, directed by Michael Mann, and Band Of The Handdirected by Paul Michael Glaser.

Shaffer also released a new album, Idiot Flats, that immediately became Indie Music Critic’s Pick Of The Week, along with great reviews by Devon Jackson, James Moore, Chairman Ralph, Chris West, and lots more.  To read all the reviews visit our Tarock Music web site, and click on the Idiot Flats tab and sub-tabs at the top of the page.  A video of track 2, “One More Heartache,” was also released,  directed by David N. Donihue (Super Rad Motion Picture Group).  While British director, Peter McAdam, started work on a video of track 3, “Remember,” using his patented iCoda software, that will debut in 2013.

Director Steve Balderson (Dikenga Films) licensed Bruce Cohen’s instrumental, “Saturn Night,” for his film The Far Flung Star, that’s scheduled for release in 2013.  And, Pump Audio licensed  tracks from Cohen’s solo album, Two BC.

Director John Lawrence licensed Shaffer and Cohen’s tracks, “Big Town” and “Dark As Night,” for his feature film debut, Peloton.  The film was the official selection of the Heartland Film Festival, Napa Valley Film Festival, and Lucerne International Film Festival.

Tarock Music signed  with Los Angeles based Chris Brown and Jeff Johnson’s Natural Half Note Songs,  to license our catalog for TV and film.

Tarock Music joined the effort to save the United Kingdom’s 99-year-old Twickenham Film Studios.  The fight is still on and their petition currently has 4,866 signatures, with 5,000 needed ASAP.  Take a minute to support Twickenham by adding your name . . . Save Twickenham Studios Petition.   And, we continue to support Yoko and Sean Lennon’s Artist’s Against Fracking in New York.  You can still add your name to this ongoing cause that will eventually terribly affect all of us in every state if we don’t protest now.

We also steered you to noteworthy directors from the Once A Week Film Festival and we hope you enjoyed watching their unique indie films.

Now, we’re happily going forward into 2013 ready for new ventures and opportunities, and hope you’ll all be doing the same.


Super Rad Motion Picture Group was formed by writer, director, post production wiz David N. Donihue to create attention getting commercials, bold feature films, and inventive music videos.

Donihue’s unique eye for visuals and award winning knack for story allows him and his teammates at Super Rad to continue to churn out amazing work on reasonable budgets. Whether in need of a full production or simply post-services, Super Rad is here to turn visions into realities.

Tarock Music experienced Donihue’s expertise when he directed Rick Shaffer’s video, ONE MORE HEARTACHE, from his album, Idiot Flats.

Check out the Super Rad Motion Picture Group’s new site ►

Rick Shaffer’s Searchin’ For The Thing That’s Got No Name


Long story short: this record burns with a wicked swagger that most artists in today’s marketplace would feel hard-pressed to match, let alone top.
We need some kind of rock ‘n’ roll highwaymen to wipe away those social ills that the original ’77 punks hoped to blot from the landscape – yet continue to bubble over with a noxious fever that makes every cardboard ’80s Steeltown movie landscape seem like paradise, by comparison.

Double-digit unemployment?  Check.  A never-ending drought that turned the most well-manicured lawn to brown?  Double-check.  The serpentine wind of consumer debt used to gut the American Dream, as in, “Keep the plebs quiet through interest rates that go up, up and away?”  Triple-check . . . hell, the only missing ingredient is a royal jubilee (don’t worry, somebody’s probably got that scenario fleshed out in a drawer somewhere) . . . so this is what bowling alone got us, I guess.

With its repeated calls to flout conformity and convention, Idiot Flats makes the perfect soundscape for this social-Darwin-on-steroids-mess that we take for current culture.  When I interviewed Rick for this site in the fall of 2010, he’d just released his first solo album, Necessary Illusion, which moved me to joke with him: “When the Rolling Stones finally figure out how to get their ’64-era mojo back, it’s gonna sound like this stuff.”

Those tendencies grew even further pronounced on Rick’s second solo album, Hidden Charms, and burst gloriously to the fore here – wrapped around fuzz guitars, psychedelic drones and hill country blues, goosed along by shaker, or tambourine-driven backbeats (courtesy of Les Chisholm and the colorfully-named Boo Boo Spencer).  Except for a few extra bass bits from Leon Wingfield, Rick’s carrying the musical load here (guitar, bass, lead vocals and percussion).

And carry it, he does, from the opening bell of “Unforgiven Man,” a driving, ’60s-ish slice of Beat manifesto that throws down (“get deep inside his naked eyes, he’s got nothing to hide”), capped by some ad-libbed howls near the end: “Well, C’MON!  Well, C’MON!”  That’s the perfect setup for “One More Heartache,” whose spaghetti western twangs can’t mask its darker, freakbeat-tinged undercurrent, one born of convention-bustin’ aggression (“Well, it’s so bad/you don’t know/end up doing just what you’re told”).

Nostalgia-mongers don’t fare any better here on “Around The Bend,” which clangs along a fuzz-guitar-laden R&B groove (You keep on askin’ me about the good old days/But I’m sorry, man, they’re comin’ to an end). The same story goes for “Getting Low,” another declaration of intent (“Take it or leave it were words I often heard/Why are you so stressed and so disturbed?”) that marries its fuzzy chunk-a-chunk to some tastefully twangin’ guitar leads, plus a six-pack of attitude (“I ain’t wastin’ time, just waiting on you/I’m getting busy, just seein’ this through”).

That makes two more standouts in an album brimming with ’em, which is all down to Rick’s strengths as an arranger – and is truly the secret weapon here.  Just when you think it’s impossible to wring anymore mileage from this brew of ’60s garage, hill country blues and freak beat pysch, you get surprises like “Remember” – basically, an uptempo cocktail of the above-detailed elements, held together by a highly-mixed tambourine, one of many subtle textures put to good use here.

On “Idiot Flats,” Rick lets his Southwestern blueswailin’ side hang out, over an understated, mid−tempo funky bed of drums and tambourine – as he recalls his chance encounter, Marquee Moon-style, with an old, been-there-done-that sage who warns him about the ways of the straight world (“This world gets too unkind/If you don’t live/If you don’t do/If you think now, brother, like they want you to”), and its never-ending encroachments on your life, but not in this particular company, where no tune breaches the four-minute mark – a welcome alternative to this age of CD and DVD bloat.

I could go on forever, but you get the idea.  As I mentioned at the beginning, whether it’s the state of rock ‘n’ roll, or our increasingly sorry,  Soviet-style culture, we’re way overdue for some changes – and Idiot Flats will give you the conviction to lead that charge.  If you only know Rick from his New Wave pioneer era in The Reds®, you’ve heard half the story – the rest of it’s here, and the contents will make you a believer out of you in a hurry.  Here’s to the real hissing of summer lawns!

Highlights: Unforgiven Man, One More Heartache, Idiot Flats, Around The Bend, Getting Low.

Lowlights: None, dammit!

Rating: 5 out of 5

● Chairman Ralph – Ministry Of Truth

(Ralph Heibutzki is the author of “Unfinished Business: The Life & Times of Danny Gatton.”  His articles have appeared in Bass Player, DISCoveries, Goldmine, Guitar Player, Vintage Guitar, and is a regular contributor to the All Music Guide.)


Visit Canada’s ORANGE COUNTRY REVERB to enter their contest to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of RICK SHAFFER’S new album, IDIOT FLATS.

DZ tha DoK says, “Rick Shaffer is a legend in the making.”

Skope’s DZ tha Dok interview with Rick Shaffer about his new album, IDIOT FLATS, can be read by clicking on INTERVIEW.