RockWired Voters Name Rick Shaffer November ARTIST OF THE MONTH

rockwiredartist-ofthemonthThe polls closed for RockWired’s November 2016 ARTIST OF THE MONTH campaign. Voters made their vote count and Rick Shaffer is RockWired’s 72nd ARTIST OF THE MONTH.

Back in 2011, guitarist Rick Shaffer perked our ears at RockWired with the release of his solo album “HIDDEN CHARMS” and it’s reliance on the very fuzzy, distorted guitar sounds that made Link Wray legendary, the swagger that made The Stones the big deal that they’ve been for fifty some odd years, and Shaffer’s purring vocals that recall Stooges-era Iggy Pop, and Velvet Underground-era Lou Reed. Trust us when we say that no charms were hidden on that album. It was all audible and the perfect antidote to much of the over-production that had come to typify a lot of rock music that year.

Hell, over-production still typifies much of the rock n roll that’s out there now and thank God for Shaffer’s album “OUTSIDE OF TIME.” Shaffer’s gritty rock ‘n roll approach is put to good use on material that speaks to life’s highs and lows (mostly lows) such as the stomping first single “Going Down Slow” accompanied by a mesmerizing music video.

∎October 31, 2016 — Brian Lush —






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.

Rick Shaffer is, “Bringing it all back home.”

1631A_RickLeatherJacketRick Shaffer is a true veteran of the indie rock scene; as lead guitarist for the Philadelphia-based band, The Reds, he released his first single in 1977, and been consistently putting out records ever since. But like any musician with a large body of work, Shaffer has changed his style many times, testing out new sounds and reaching back towards old influences; his new solo album, “Stacked Deck,” ties it all together.

In their early years, The Reds identified with the New Wave scene, and indeed, their early successes were such that their 1979 album, self-titled “The Reds,” had them touring with such prominent artists as Blondie, The Police, and the Psychedelic Furs.  Their lack of further recognition today is not for lack of talent; Shaffer’s grinding guitar and keyboardist Bruce Cohen’s are undeniably distinctive.

Despite a lack of lasting recognition, The Reds continued to put out albums under various managers and even produced some movie soundtracks. Their sound vacillated between driving post-punk, ‘80’s appropriate pseudo-electronica, and dark, artistic balladry.  When Shaffer put out his first solo album, Necessary Illusion, he steered his sound towards a far bluesier, sixties-meets-distortion beat.  Rather than seeming out of place, it seemed that this sound had been hidden in their heavy beats of their songs since the beginning, waiting to emerge.  “Stacked Deck” highlights the maturation of this sound; its wide range of influences make it resistant to genres, and this diversity seems to fit Shaffer’s songwriting perfectly.

The album is not without its flaws. A few of the tracks start suddenly, so that one feels as if the beginning was cut off.  The audio is well-balanced, but a little overbearing in the sheer density of sound.  Some songs are stronger than others.  Yet one gets the sense that this is how it is supposed to be; the resulting sound is rough, unfinished and guttural.  It is a quality that most modern performers shun, but which was a cornerstone of the compelling delivery of delta blues musicians, as well as of sixties garage rock, the only genre that comes close to pinning down this music.

The first, “I Won’t Deny,” sees Shaffer channeling his inner 13th Floor Elevators; it has a crunchy bass line, a jangling tambourine beat, and Shaffer’s signature guitar whine, underlying his forcefully smoky vocals.  “Shudder And Shake,” on the other hand, takes a Rolling Stones style approach to the blues.  The one-note pulse that drives this song opens up the floor to searing guitar licks, Delta-esque harmonica moans and a genuine bluesy growl from Shaffer.

“Found My Love” perhaps stands alone more than any other track on this album.  It is built on one strong, simple riff, repeated as a refrain in the rhythm guitar and filled out with a full band, back-up vocals, and a tasteful lead guitar solo.  Its lyrics stick with the listener; they are clever, and on hearing them, one starts to relate to the frustration of the singer, even without meaning to do so.  “Cool Treatment” lays down a cool rattle of percussion over a lowdown, grungy guitar line, making for a stormy cloud of sound and the deliverance of some bitter lyrics.  “Time Or Love” ends this album on a splendid note; it is a well-made blues ballad, spare and utterly compelling, and its refrain promises the listener that “Time or love is gonna get you.”  Wise words deserve a closer look; if you are in the market for good music, Stacked Deck is certainly worth the cost.

• Zosia Holden | College Underground Magazine

“. . . with Stacked Deck Rick Shaffer continues to pump out strong garage rock albums.”

RickShaffer.StackedDeckIt seems like it is becoming a yearly occurrence for me to review Rick Shaffer’s latest album.  In fact, it is pretty much 12 months to the day that I reviewed his third album, Idiot Flats.   Shaffer’s latest is entitled Stacked Deck, and it picks up right where Flats left off.

Rick continues on with his fuzz filled, blues rock sound.  He has referred to this style as “sonic minimalist,” and when you hear him it certainly makes sense. The songs have a classic garage vibe to them and won’t overwhelm in attempts to be complicated.

“Found My Love” is a prime example of this “sonic minimalist” idea. If you take away the effects and the tambourine you could easily imagine someone singing it to you in your living room.

While I do enjoy reviewing albums by artists that I have before, it can be a blessing and a curse. If I look at Stacked Deck from the perspective of someone that has never heard Rick Shaffer before, I would definitely recommend you give it a listen. It’s got a cool sound that combines the Rolling Stones at their bluesiest (“Talking About You”) and gives it a more modern, fuzzy kick.  On the other hand, some of us have heard Shaffer’s previous work and are already familiar and wondering what’s new.  To you I say, give it a few listens. At first it may sound too similar to some of Shaffer’s previous efforts, but it will grow on you.  The slide guitar and harmonica play more of a role this time around and I feel it’s heavier on the blues side than rock (“Time Or Love”).  I prefer Shaffer’s vocals more on these tracks and would like to see his future releases go further down this route. Still, with Stacked Deck Rick Shaffer continues to pump out strong garage rock albums.


Key Tracks: Found My Love, Talking About You, Time Or Love

• Kevin Kozel • Senior MuzikReviews Staff

Download a FREE mp3 of track 7, Cool Treatment

To buy a CD or mp3’s click on STACKED DECK

“Stacked Deck sees this artist at his peak.”

Pascal Thiel - DisAgreementAccording to his label’s website, Rick Shaffer released his first album in 1971 with his band Freight Train.  In the late Seventies he was rather busy with The Reds®, who were quite active until the mid-Eighties.  It was only in 2007 and 2009 where they came back with two albums.  Since 2010, Rick Shaffer once again concentrated on his solo career.  For a man who must be about sixty years old, there are no signs of fatigue, as since then he has released every year a new album.  Stacked Deck is thus his fourth album since his revived solo comeback.

Not much has changed over the last few years, except that it seems as if he’s refining his craft.  Reading through the liner notes, I understand quickly that I’m too young and/or uninformed to truly understand everything he is doing, but then you don’t have to have a PhD to understand raucous garage delta blues.  I admit that this is usually not my favourite musical genre, but there’s something about Rick Shaffer that just makes it impossible not to enjoy his short but tremendously honest songs.  He is playing most of the instruments himself, although he has a couple of guests who add further bass and drum tracks.  It’s especially the very prominent percussion ensemble that give the songs an authentic vibe.  And let’s face it: percussive spoons have always been something uniquely cool.

While the bass guitar has been left rather in the background, it’s especially the vocals and slide guitar we have to concentrate our energies on.  Shaffer is excellent in both domains.  His guitar playing is very varied, ranging from fuzzy proto punk harshness, to damp bluesy slide extravaganzas.  His vocals match the mood: he is certainly not what most people would consider a gifted singer, but then neither is Lou Reed, and look what an impact he has had on the rock’n’roll circus!  Rick Shaffer knows that less is more, and while a good half hour for ten tracks may seem like a little on the short side, it also guarantees that there are no idle moments.

Blues enthusiasts will have a field day dissecting all the influences of, and nods to, blues giants, but I think I prefer my more naïve approach that lets me seamlessly enjoy Stacked Deck from the punkish opener “I Won’t Deny,” to the concluding lethargic psycho blues ballad “Time Or Love.”  The album was recorded in Michigan and Mississippi, and somehow this juxtaposition of garage rock and swamp blues couldn’t have been produced in a more authentic way.  Unaware listeners might even mistake this for something obscure straight out of the Sixties.  While I have enjoyed all of Rick Shaffer’s previous efforts, I dare say that Stacked Deck sees this artist at his peak.

Pascal Thiel • DisAgreement • Luxembourg

Download a FREE mp3 of track 7, Cool Treatment

To buy a CD or mp3’s click on STACKED DECK.

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.

UNIVERSAL MUSIC Re-Releases “Green With Envy” By THE REDS®

Universal Music has digitally re-released The Reds®  EP, “Green With Envy,” originally released in 1979 on the A&M label.

The EP features The Doors song, “Break On Through,” which suggests some of the The Reds® roots.

Click on . . . GREEN WITH ENVY . . . to purchase mp3’s from your favorite download site.