Rick Shaffer is a founding member of the Philadelphia band, The Reds©, whose first album on A&M, self entitled THE REDS, produced by David Kershenbaum, showed the band's impressive sound — a blend of Rick Shaffer's guitar and Bruce Cohen's keyboards into an interestingly textured drone, short guitar and keyboard figures, rising then disappearing back into the drone, while Shaffer's voice provides the punch and definition for their overall sound. The album was supported with live appearances with The Police, Joe Jackson, Blondie, The Ramones, The Psychedelic Furs, and Public Image. An EP, Green With Envy, followed featuring The Doors song, "Break On Through," which suggests some of the band's roots. (Universal Music digitally re-released The Reds, and Green With Envy, August 2012.)
After leaving A&M, The Reds® went forward with two indie albums, STRONGER SILENCE and FATAL SLIDE (Stony Plain/RCA), that continued The Reds® sound, receiving critical acclaim internationally. They next recorded a tense and powerful album for Sire/WB entitled, SHAKE APPEAL, produced by Mike Thorne (Blur, Soft Cell, Wire). This forcible record led the band to work with director/producer, Michael Mann. Mann incorporated numerous songs by The Reds® into episodes of Miami Vice, then hired Shaffer and Cohen to write songs and score for two motion pictures, Band Of The Hand (Tri-Star) and Manhunter (De Laurentiis), based on the novel "Red Dragon." Soundtrack albums from both films were released on MCA, a Manhunter CD, with an added Reds® track, “Jogger’s Stakeout”, was released by Intrada Records (2010), and Universal Music digitally released both albums (2012).
The Reds® next album, CRY TOMORROW reunited them with British producer Mike Thorne. It captures the driving intensity of earlier albums and the ambient, atmospheric feel from their film scores, resulting in a stark, surreal album, with a sense of mood and mystery. The pulsing opening track, "Terror In My Heart," was featured in the film, "Nightmare On Elm Street 2" (New Line), directed by Jack Sholder. Along with a searing non-stop groove of the Stones' "Gimme Shelter," the introduction of various percussive elements, and a diversity of background vocals, all create an experimental and manic energy that reaches inside your head and won't let go. In 2004 Shaffer wrote and recorded, "Looking For Right," for director Michael Mann’s film, "Collateral."
In 2007, FUGITIVES FROM THE LAUGHING HOUSE was written and produced by The Reds®. It starts with the street fighting "Wild" and "Little Cisco," through the hypnotic stroll of "Ringing The Bell" and "Dum Dum Dice," and does not let up until the end with the grinding Dub laced "Gunn's Suicide.” Fugitives From The Laughing House is a straight forward raw nerve reflection of life in America.
The Reds® February 2009 release, EARLY NOTHING, was also written and produced by Shaffer and Cohen. The album has a hypnotic quality, that leaves the listener free to let their subconscious play itself out, no matter where it goes, while maintaining the simplicity of the moment. With the release of Early Nothing, The Reds®, shamans of dark, brooding, loud rock continue to explore and define their sound.
Rick Shaffer’s first solo album, released 2010, NECESSARY ILLUSION is a ten song neo-sixties, garage blues excursion, with a Joe Meek and Excello Records production style. The album’s sonic signature is a raw, swirl of distorted guitar, atmospheric percussion, stark droning hill country blues, in a mix of “Excello Records” style reverb.
Shaffer’s 2011 second solo venture, HIDDEN CHARMS, has a sonic blueprint of proto–garage rock/blues, distorted guitar, with melodies buried beneath a mash-up of unadulterated garage vibe. Inspired by Link Wray’s Swan Singles Collection, early Stones, and heavy doses of Mississippi Hill Country Blues Bop, the basic track sound is a simple, but steady primitive hypnotic beat and percussion, ultra distorted guitar, and aggressive raw vocals with intense personal lyric content. British director, Peter McAdam, created a video of “Buy And Sell,” shot on location in the UK.
Shaffer’s next solo album, Idiot Flats, is built on a garage/blues framework, Mississippi Hill Country rhythms, a garage/blues framework , and a mash-up of a ‘60’s psychobilly/R&B sounds. Idiot Flats’ lyrical and vocal tone takes on the packaged commercialized plague, asking the listener to live free in the moment, instead of in the past or the future.
Shaffer’s latest release, STACKED DECK, continues the "sonic minimalist” blueprint of his previous solo albums. The sound combines hard fuzz guitar driven garage-blues, a blues edged two step, lazy insistent rolling beat, new colors in the harmonica and spoons style percussion, along with an unadorned and unaffected blues narrative.