It’s unusual how Philadelphia duo The Reds® disappeared after a brief career in the late-Seventies and early Eighties, just to come back more active than ever with their comeback album, Fugitives From The Laughing House, in 2007.  They followed this impressive second coming two years later with, Early Nothing. The same year, keyboarder Bruce Cohen did his first solo album, but guitarist/vocalist Rick Shaffer didn’t let us wait long for his own album titled Necessary Illusion.

Without Cohen’s spooky keyboards, the psychedelic component has gone, giving Shaffer ample opportunity to dig deeper in his roots, which predominantly are garage rock and blues.  Apart from singing, he is also in charge of the very reverb heavy guitar, the bass and the percussion which have this kind of tinny sound, full of clanging hi-hats, that are reminiscent of a time when music wasn’t about getting a more powerful and dynamic production with every new album.  That doesn’t mean that Necessary Illusion sounds bad. In fact the artist captures perfectly the mood of Sixties garage rock, with his edgy vocals adding to the effort’s credibility.

The ten songs are all faithfully more or less three minutes long, and even if a good half hour seems a little on the short side, Rick Shaffer makes sure to get his intentions heard in just the necessary time, without ever indulging in lengthy guitar antics that would risk robbing the songs of their urgency.  Shaffer must have his roots in a time far before I even listened to music, but contemporary rock fans who fancy the likes of Jon Spencer and Alan Vega will find a lot of redeeming value on this stylishly impeccable retro proto punk garage blues album!

• Pascal Thiel • DisAgreement • 
Luxembourg