Rick Shaffer • Bruce Cohen • The Reds®
The Philadelphia band's 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).
During this time, solo projects for Cohen were writing score for the productions, "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" and "Down The Road" at Philadelphia's Walnut Theatre; "The Speckled Band," starring Quentin Crisp, and Charles Busch' play, "Vampire Lesbians Of Sodom" for NYC's Pulse Theatre Company; and a forty minute electronic film noir piece, "Goodbye Johnny Staccato." While solo projects for Shaffer included recording guitar tracks on a Marianne Faithfull album (Island); Hilly Kristal's, "Mad Mordechai" (Stereo Society); Peter Murphy's, "Holy Smoke" (Beggars Banquet/BMG); and Marc Almond's, "Fantastic Star" (Some Bizarre/Mercury). While Shaffer wrote and recorded, "Looking For Right," for director Michael Mann"s film, "Collateral."
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."
In 2007, FUGITIVES FROM THE LAUGHING HOUSE was written and produced by The Reds®. The album 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. With the release of Early Nothing, The Reds®, shamans of dark, brooding, loud rock continued to explore and define their sound.
BRUCE COHEN's first solo album, ONE BC, released August 2009, contains all atmospheric, ambient instrumentals in the tradition and style of Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel. Cohen’s 2011 solo venture, TWO BC, expands on his earlier ambient themes, yet are even more experimental, and danceable. The album contains tracks that go from spacial, lush, ambient soundscapes, to metal space funk, with every track receiving the special Bruce Cohen treatment. And, in a totally different genre side project, Bruce formed a heavy, psychedelic, Hammond organ jazz trio, with alternating members, called Big Fun 3. The Miami based group is signed to Ropeadope Records, who also released Big Fun 3.2 in 2013, and another, Fade Out, in 2014. Cohen’s next solo album, Three BC – In A Trance, is scheduled for release late 2014.
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 venture, IDIOT FLATS, is built on a garage/blues framework, Mississippi Hill Country rhythms, and a mash-up of a ‘60’s psychobilly/R&B sounds, with lyrical and vocal tones. Shaffer’s next 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. Shaffer’s fifth solo release, MISADVENTURE, has him back in the garage again, with some of his best songs, performance and production to date. The ragged edges, room echo, distortion, great hooks, and underlying menace are right in place for some compelling tension and adrenaline drenched garage blues. A video of track 2 “Some Say” was also released. In May 2014, Shaffer released a bonus single, LINK, focusing his talent beyond his five garage rock solo albums, to boost the garage rock genre with a Link Wray, and swamp blues inspired instrumental. In August 2014, HARD TIMES SIXTY, another instrumental single was released. This time Shaffer’s influence was the British Rocker style of the 1960’s.
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