“Going Down Slow” Gets Music Blogged

musicbloggedRick Shaffer is an artist with a truly distinctive approach to his vision and sound. This talented musician cleverly combines alternative music and country rock in order to create songs that hit the spot emotionally and technically.

The songs on Rick’s recently released album Outside Of Time demonstrate high quality musicianship and timeless song-writing wits, reminding me of the sound of seminal influencers including the likes of Neil Young, The Cramps or The Blasters, just to mention but a few.

The album’s lead single “Going Down Slow” does a great job of driving the album with a set of stunning rhythms and melodies. The song effortlessly goes between blues, rock and country. The aesthetics of the song have a truly 60s flavor, but the arrangement and the production value have a punch that is all modern and up-to-speed with the needs and want of today’s audience.

Rick is a charismatic performer whose style is refreshingly direct, iconic and versatile. Behind its thought-provoking enigmatic title, this album hides a refreshingly down-to-earth approach that goes back to the roots of Rick’s passion.

Ben Corke – Music Blogged

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“Rick Shaffer is back with more of his signature proto punk . . .”

CrossradarRick Shaffer is back with more of his signature proto punk, just as bristling and energetic as ever.

‘Killer Time’ kicks things off with swaggering vocals that race alongside the furious guitars which splutter along and give way to a solo that is curiously slurred and tight at the same time. ‘Going Down Slow’ paints the picture of devil-may-care driving down the road late at night, with flashes of British rock thrown into the mix. Rick Shaffer’s work continues to be exciting and engaging, on the one had looking back to the influences of early punk rock, while on the other always looking for new ways to communicate that punk aesthetic. ‘Your Charm’ takes a classic riff and redevelops it for its own purposes, like taking some old clothes and deconstructing them to be recreated in a new way. It’s all still the same fabric, but it’s sometimes time to be used differently. As a result, the tracks found on Outside Of Time have a feeling of familiarity while also offering the excitement that comes from engaging with new tunes.

Shaffer certainly sticks to a consistent model, and anyone who knows of his work is unlikely to be disappointed with this new selection of upbeat, swaggering tunes.

• Chris Marsh • August 24, 2016
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The Ministry Of Truth Reviews “Outside Of Time”

Chairman RalphAnd so, the clock rewinds, the minute hand takes a moment to reset itself, the second hand waits for an encore cue, and we renew our acquaintance once more with Rick Shaffer, former guitarist of those amped up ’80-s Philadelphia New Wave ravers, The Reds, who’s lately racked up an impressive streak of solo albums that shows no signs of letting up.

That’s certainly the case for his latest effort, Outside Of Time (Tarock Music), which maintains the standards that we’ve come to expect from him: high energy, stripped down garage-psych and punk, infused with flecks of old school R&B, and a little hill country blues, too, while he’s at it.  As usual, Shaffer carries the load (guitar, percussion, lead vocals), with a little bit of strategic assistance from Teddy Rixon (bass) and Russ Mitchell (drums, percussion).

If you’ve followed Shaffer’s work this far, you’ll know his albums start off with a houseshaking opening track, and “Killer Time” is no exception.  The track builds around a fuzz-laced riff, and a drum/tambourine track that just propels it right along, as Shaffer asks someone — a business partner, friend, or lover, we don’t know — to just drop the pretense, and deal with life’s hard truths, for a change (“Why are you waiting for things you can’t see?).  Then, in the middle, the song explodes into a truly paint-peeling, overdriven lead solo that provides an apt counterpart to its theme (a favored subject of previous Shaffer efforts).

This up-tempo approach and unapologetic mindset prevails on tracks like “One By One” (“Ask me once, but please don’t ask again, where I’m going, and mostly, where I’ve been”), and “Blowing My Mind” (“I ain’t changing, I ain’t changing my mind now”), on which Shaffer laces his lyrics with dark flecks of guitar fills. Like I’ve said before, and feel obliged to say again — if the Rolling Stones are serious about reclaiming their mojo, here’s where that mission should start.

“Going Down Slow,” on the other hand, is a shot of grungy blues energy that nods to simpler pleasures: in this case, cruising the cityscape, and listening to music, without worrying about where you’re going, what you need to do next, or whether you’ve got to be on time (“Going down, going down slow/don’t tell the things that I already know”).  It’s a fitting subject, considering the site of the album’s recording (Del Tone Studios, Detroit, MI).  The blues elements return in full force on the closing track, the aptly-titled “Hellbound Trip,” which will definitely give a glimpse of a hellhound’s pursuit.

Other highlights include “Show Me,” a shimmering, moody piece of psych-pop that (honestly) recalls the world-weary, “shrug my shoulders” resignation of the Music Machine’s twilight years.  As on the other songs, Shaffer leaves the listener to determine just who he’s taking to task here, though it’s definitely someone that he’s happy not to see anymore (“How many times/must I try to explain/Trouble coming down like a pouring rain”).

Other tracks show Shaffer in a more pop-oriented mood.  The biggest surprise here, and a hint at a direction to explore on future albums, if Shaffer chooses.  Notable snapshots include “Blowing My Mind,” “Your Charm,” whose guitar hook nods to T. Rex’s breakthrough (“Get It On”), and “Changing Anything,” which boasts an earnestly singalong chorus amid its underdog determination (“This ain’t changing anything, no this ain’t changing anything/No this ain’t changing anything I know”).

 In less adept hands, the sonic collisions that often occur here — the layered vocals, persistent leads, and strategically deployed guitar and percussion fills — would sound soggy and deadly. On Outside Of Time, they sound just right.  Ladies and gentlemen, may we present — Mr. Rick Shaffer, Philly guitar slinger, who’s bearing down on you with everything he knows — the one-man last gang in town, who hasn’t chased the trends.  With works of this caliber, he won’t feel the need.

Ralph Heibutzki

Chairman Ralph’s Ministry Of Truth       
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Tarock Music Releases Rick Shaffer Video ∎ GOING DOWN SLOW

RICK SHAFFER GOING DOWN SLOW (final).mp4 - Google DriveRick Shaffer and director, David N. Donihue struck up a friendship when filming the video, “One More Heartache,” for Shaffer’s 2012 album, Idiot Flats.  When Shaffer told Donihue he wrote “Going Down Slow” in Detroit while recording his latest album, Outside Of Time, because he was struck by how the economy caused crime in the Motor City to skyrocket out of control.  He was especially moved after meeting so many good people that were in desperate straits as a direct result of the nose diving economy, and a seemingly uncaring Government.  Shaffer wanted to evoke a story line that would convey the desolation of Detroit, so he enlisted Donihue to create the visual scenario for his lyrics.

Donihue, a fan of Shaffer’s timeless sound, readily agreed.  His vision materialized into a story line that follows Jack Clyde, a young, handsome, yet hard edged, man living in the turmoil of the wavering American economy.  When Jack impregnates his girlfriend just as the slumping job market leaves him with no prospects, he hastily decides to rob a liquor store.  When Jack’s actions leaves the mother of his child alone in the world, it becomes her turn to launch her own plan.

CREDITS: Director: David N. Donihue | Producer: Noubar Antonyan — SuperRadFilms.com | The Criminal: Arman Oganesyan | The Heroine: Kristin Vannieuwenhoven | The Prisoner: Noubar Antonyan | Still Photography: Theresa Marchione | ©2016 TarockMusic.com

WATCH THE VIDEO ON YouTube . . . https://youtu.be/Hvk44kOocp0

 

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SONIC CRAPSHOOT BLOG ∎ IN THE USED BINS: “The Reds” LP (1979)

THE.REDS.Front

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

NOTE FROM TAROCK MUSIC — August 2012  ‘The Reds was re-released digitally by Universal Music, and can be purchased HERE.

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

Tarock Music’s 2012 Review

Fireworks

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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.