“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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Listen to full tracks by RICK SHAFFER

Rick Shaffer | Altered Portrait

Listen to full tracks by RICK SHAFFER.

Stoli Declares Rick Shaffer’s Album ‘Misadventure’ A Classic

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‘Misadventure’ marks the fifth solo album by Rick Shaffer and it’s twelve songs I cannot put down. Rick has been on Skoped Out before, so I was honored to have him again, the man is a legend. Join us as Rick Shaffer speaks about the new album, possible reunion by The Reds, end times, and so much more!

Stoli: Where are we talking from today, and how was your summer?

  • Rick Shaffer: Right now I’m in the Motor City, a/k/a Detroit, at the Del Tone recording studio. My summer has been busy working on instrumental Garage and Delta style tracks for film projects.

Stoli: I am simply blown away by your musical work ethic. What keeps you driven and so motivated to keep making music your fans love?

  • RS: Thank you, I think it’s love of the sounds, and realizing there is only so much time to grab those sounds from my head. By working, usually every day, I keep building on my ideas, sounds and grooves. For me, there is never a Plan B.

Stoli: We are all so excited about your 5th solo album, ‘Misadventure.’ Offer us some insight into when you decided to embark on this project, and what inspired you.

  • RS: Misadventure is more garage rock than a delta sounding affair, because overall it’s a harder, faster, louder sound, yet still contains what I call a blues narrative lyrically, and vocally. My projects are inspired by what’s going on personally at the time, and what kind of soundscape in the structure of the songs and production I will develop. I think The Pretty Things early albums, Early Stones, The Shadows of Knight, and the Marc Bolan T- Rex sound / production all contributed ideas / influence to this album. Marc Bolan may sound strange to some, but his music has an early rock and roll feel, but is dense in its production at times, and don’t forget Bolan was a huge Eddie Cochran fan. Also, I wanted to employ the early atmospheric production styles of British producer Joe Meek, and American producer Phil Specter, in their background vocals and percussion techniques.

Stoli: Now I am so curious about the title ‘Misadventure.’ Please offer us background on the title, and also the album art?

  • RS: The title reflects the narrative of the songs, like bad fortune, mishap, and accidental death not due to crime or negligence. Misadventure is a term the British use for causes of death involving very grey circumstances, like the deaths of Brian Jones and Amy Winehouse. And, the CD artwork is by American artist, Jill Emery, who’s work I absolutely love. Jill is also a musician, and she played bass with Hole, Mazzy Star, Super Heroines, The Decadent, and Shadow Project.

Stoli: What musicians did you bring in to help you with the album, and how much guidance can they offer?

  • RS: The cast of musicians still includes the mainstay of Boo Boo Spencer (bass drum and spoons / percussion), Les Chisholm (drums / percussion), and the Detroit crew of Anna Burne (drums / percussion), Del Robinson (drums / percussion), and Teddy “Boy” Rixon (bass). They were all essential, and I greatly appreciate their involvement. My main goal is for me to not overplay, and that leaves room for the percussion elements on the tracks, and the reason for so many drum / percussion players.

Stoli: Being we are in the digital age of music where can we buy the album online and or stream the music?

Stoli: I love the single & video for “Some Say.” What is that song about and how does the video portray the message of the song?

  • RS: Thanks, the song and video message is that you make your own choices, and only you are responsible for those choices / actions, and it’s easier to change the past in your mind, than making the changes in the present. The video is executed very well by director Christopher Kelley (Table Sixteen Productions) through his layering, the emotional interaction between the artist and her lover, and the rhythm that takes you back and forth, then ends at the beginning when the lyric tells us, “We haven’t learned.”

Stoli: Of the 12 songs on the album which one is most personal, and why?

  • RS: It would have to be track 3, Turn It Up, with the thick density of the guitars, hypnotic groove, and the narrative of the lyrics. The message is we’re all ultimately doomed in this life, so find what you love, then do it until it kills you. The repetitive chorus lyrics, “It keeps on raining in my head so loud,” for me reinforces the drive to keep going, creating, and recording music.

Stoli: So I have to ask, will The Reds® ever do a reunion album?

  • RS: I honestly don’t know. Bruce Cohen and I have been so busy with solo projects, and the time just keeps slipping away. I love working with Bruce, and hope we can do something in the future, but nothing is in the works.

Stoli: The world is crazy now with Ebola, ISIS, riots, war, etc. Are we headed for end times and are you at all concerned?

  • RS: Yes, I’m concerned. I try to live with what I can control and know the political / corporate “game” has been fixed for a long time, right under everyone’s noses. It’s like trying to win at cards, but you keep getting dealt a losing hand, yet you continue to play anyway.

Stoli: What is coming up for Rick Shaffer, and where can we follow you online?

  • RS: I’ll be composing and recording more instrumentals for film in a West Virginia studio that has an old 4-track Ampex 440 machine. And, I’m currently writing new material, for a new solo album taking shape in the style and groove of Slim Harpo and Jimmy Reed. My record label website is TarockMusic.com, where you can click on tabs and sub-tabs at the top of the page for links to just about everything, like Twitter, including a “Rick Shaffer on Facebook” tab that goes right to me.

Buy options for MISADVENTURE are > HERE

Read the MISADVENTURE album liner notes, and download a FREE mp3 of ‘SOME SAY” > HERE

Muzic Notez UK’s Hailee Mae Interviews Rick Shaffer

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Muzic Notez UK | Hailee Mae: First off, it’s an honor to be doing this interview with you Rick, thanks for taking the time to sit down with me.

HM: What motivated you to start creating music? What age did you begin?

  • Rick Shaffer: I’ve always been motivated by the danger, groove, poetry in the lyrics, the noise, and expression to live a way of life I love. I really got into music when I was twelve, and I’m still at the beginning, because you never arrive. Once you think you’ve arrived, it’s over.

HM: Who were your musical influences, idols, or bands growing up that have helped mold you into the musician you are today? Or, helped mold the music that you create?

  • RS: I was very into the early Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, which led me to the masters of blues, Muddy Waters, Slim Harpo, Fred Mc Dowell, Jimmy Reed, and rockers like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Bo Diddley. They all contributed to my early development, and still influence me today.

HM: What’s the ultimate goal you want your music to achieve, or for you to achieve in your career as a musician? Any particular message you wish to send?

  • RS: What appeals to me is creating words and music that have an eternal quality. By that I mean, people remember words, grooves and sounds from reading a novel, or watching a film, and they keep a piece of the experience in their head. My music message is to not become self-conscience, which is death, because then the energy is gone. We always need some kind of psychic purge.

HM: What’s the greatest concert you’ve ever been to, or performed?

  • RS: Concert wise, sitting a foot away from Muddy Waters and Fred Mc Dowell live, and seeing Iggy Pop and David Bowie perform together. Some of my most memorable performances, would have to be when my band, The Reds®, were on tour with The Police, and on Blondie’s Heart of Glass tour. Back then the audience was more into listening and grooving to the music, and the overall connection with the band, whereas today it seems like the most important part of their concert experience is to film it on their phones, instead of adding energy and being a part of the show.

HM: What is your recording process?

  • RS: The process with my solo material, is to capture an idea and immediately get it recorded. I start by using an old 280 Scully eight-track to lay down the guitar and groove, which sometimes involves other musicians, like Boo Boo Spencer on bass drum/spoons, Les Chisholm doing some snare drum and cymbals, and Teddy “Boy” Rixon on bass, and bouncing in a large group of percussive elements like tambourines, maracas and handclaps. All the tracks and vocals are cut live, no punch-ins, but overdubs include some guitar, fuzz bass and background vocals. My main objective is to keep the energy, and not over think the song and final album.

HM: What were you trying to achieve on the new album, “Misadventure”?

  • RS: I wanted a raw, primitive, hard driving energy that is spontaneous, and in the moment. Specifically to draw on lyrical elements to spotlight the cost of blind faith, the rejection of banality, and not accepting what you are told, over what you know. The visual representation is very important to the Misadventure totality, from the CD cover by American artist Jill Emery (formerly the bass player in Super Heroines, Hole, Mazy Star, Shadow Project, and The Decadent), to the “Some Say” video by director Christopher Kelley. Every element contributes to tell the album’s story.

HM: What are you trying to accomplish with your songs within the Garage Blues genre?

  • RS: My idea is to keep that initial immediate feel, and take it to the edge with reckless abandon, which are qualities I have always loved, in recordings by artists that I respect. I like combining the genres of garage rock with delta blues, creating the Garage Blues genre. Lyrically, I want to get the listener thinking, it comes down to them, not other peoples’ opinion of who they are, and not being part of the “herd.”

HM: What are your influences behind the music you create?

  • RS: Longevity and consistency in my work, not money or fame. Respected writers/poets, like Joseph Conrad. Arthur Schopenhauer, and Charles Bukowski, and amazing musicians like Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Link Wray and Hasil Adkins, or the great rebel British producer Joe Meek, all continue to inspire and create that eternal influence in peoples’ heads.

HM: What else are you working on? What can we expect to see and hear from you in the future?

  • RS: I generally work every day writing and working on sound/groove ideas. Currently, I’m recording some swamp/piedmont style blues, for film work that I’m cutting in a West Virginia studio, with an old Ampex 440 4-track recorder. I plan to continue recording sonic minimalistic sound music, until it kills me.

HM: Any message for your fans?

  • RS: My message is, don’t underestimate hard work, stay humble, play it like you feel it, and to know the difference between information and knowledge. It would especially be good to take heed of a quote from Reverend Ike, “I am not other people’s opinions.”

Hailee Mae – Muzic Notez (UK) 

Read the ALBUM LINER NOTES, watch the “SOME SAY” VIDEO, and download a FREE MP3 HERE.

Ralph Heibutzki Review “. . . Shaffer is a compelling artist . . .”

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When I first started reviewing Rick Shaffer’s solo material, my standing joke – then and now – is that if the Rolling Stones ever figure out how to recapture their mid-’60s mojo, this is how it should sound: tough, tight and to the point, but soulful, too. MISADVENTURE marks Shaffer’s fifth album on his own, away from the “day job” – The Reds®, which continue as a duo of himself, and keyboardist Bruce Cohen – and reaffirms the blueprint that he’s followed thus far.

If you’ve kept tabs on Shaffer’s work, you already know what you’re getting: droning, fuzztone-laced garage rock, leavened by shots of blues – with nods to Slim Harpo, and Lightnin’ Hopkins – plus the kind of down ‘n’ dirty R&B that seems a distant memory in this era of Autotuned robotic gymnastics. This outing leans closer to the garage side of the coin, with a couple of significant variations – which we’ll address momentarily – that demonstrate why Shaffer is a compelling artist, and more than just another clever guitarist.

All jokes apart, recapturing the mojo requires getting all the details right, and adding your own creative touches, which Shaffer does throughout this album – such as using his guitar armada to double the vocal hook line, for example, which works to devastating effect on the opening one-two punch of “Fooling Me” and “Some Say.”  He also adds subtle touches of color that lift the songs above rock’s holy guitar-bass-drum trinity such as Boo Boo Spencer’s spoons and percussion, or the harmonica that punctuates the deceptive uptempo friskiness of “Out Of Time” (“We’ve been walking/We’ve been talking/Now we’ve come to the end of the line”).

MISDAVENTURE also distinguishes itself through a spirited sense of vocal interplay. While that element has always been present in Shaffer’s work, this time around, he’s playing that card more prominently than before. For further reference, see “Listen Now,” another snappy garage raver built around a call-and-response between its show-me-something spirit (“You say that I’m a non-believer/But what you’re saying ain’t true”) and its two-fisted chorus (“Listen now to what I say, listen now to what I say”). Shaffer cuts loose with one of his blistering, paint-peeling guitar solos – which he keeps short, snappy and to  the point.

The heightened vocal interplay also works well on two of the album’s other certified highlights, “Turn It Up,” and “Falling Down” – driven home by a wall of crunchy guitars and multi-tracked Shaffer harmonies. Both songs also introduce a new vein to the Shaffer sound – in this case, rousing ’70s glam-punk anthems that he powers with ringing, single-note leads. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of the guitar-and-vocal army approach that Lou Reed used so effectively on albums like STREET HASSLE (only to feed the faithful dreck like  “Disco Mystic” and “So Alone,” but that’s another discussion).

Both songs stand up on their own, though it pays to listen carefully, or you’ll miss the lament for self-destructive appetites that powers “Turn It Up” (“. . . the things that you really be loving/You gonna do them until they kill you”), or the resigned nod over love turned sour in “Falling Down”  (“Stop talkin’ about redemption, honey/You know it’s a lousy bet”). “Another High,” on the other hand, is an altogether different beast – part garage, part psych-punk, part neo-Stooges – whose wistful bleakness (“Somebody loved you, baby/Way more than you know”) floats on top of a sea of buzzing, heavily echoed guitars. It’s the foundation for an intriguing new direction, if Shaffer wants to explore it, and closes the proceedings on a strong, decisive note.

To a less savvy reviewer, Shaffer’s show of carrying the musical load – besides guitar, he’s also credited here with bass, fuzz bass, harmonica and percussion – might leave little room for other people’s input, but I’d maintain the opposite: vision is all too easily outsourced in today’s consensus-driven environment.  Refreshingly, that’s not the case here (although one additional bassist and three other drummers make appearances besides Spencer). All in all, if you share the garage rock renegade’s contempt for current trends – and kept the home fires burning for the Pretty Things, and the Yardbirds, as you await the Stones’ mojo to roll again – then MISADVENTURE should be just the ticket.

Highlights: Fooling Me, Turn It Up, Falling Down, Commotion, Listen Now, Another High

Lowlights: None, dammit!

Rating: 5 Stars  (Neither flashy nor complicated — the sound of a man who keeps on keepin’ on.)

 

Ralph Heibutzki Communiques — Chairman Ralph’s Ministry Of Truth

Download a FREE MP3 OF “SOME SAY” on SoundCloud HERE.

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