I first took notice of Rick Shaffer back in 2007 when his band The Reds® released their exceptional comeback album Fugitives From The Laughing House. This was followed two years later by the equally appealing Early Nothing, and since then Mr Shaffer has been busily releasing solo albums. I always thought that Necessary Illusion from 2010 was his first solo venture, but now I find myself surprised that he did already one as early as 1971, one year before I was born.
This means of course that Rick Shaffer is by no means a youngster, but as on his previous records, he never sounds old and weary. I missed his last album Hidden Charms, but the new one – Idiot Flats – is frankly not that different from what I have come to expect of him. Playing the guitars, bass and some percussion, and of course in charge of the vocals, he only hired the services of a drummer and an additional bassist for the ten tracks featured on this new CD. The recipe is still quite the same: garage rock rooted in the early Sixties, inspired by early Stones and the Pretty Things, funneled into concise three minute tracks that overwhelm their audience with reverb driven guitar, bluesy melodies and Shaffer’s cool, distanced voice that reminds occasionally of Lou Reed and Alan Vega. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion are another band he can be likened to, for all those who started listening to music in the Nineties, a long time after Rick Shaffer began his active musical career.
It’s hard to highlight any specific song, as the whole album is one extraordinarily listenable experience from the beginning to the end. Last time I complained a little about the CD’s short length, but this time I guess I have come to accept that this kind of music works best in smaller doses. Idiot Flats never sounds modern, and always catches the atmosphere of Sixties garage rock, and while this would feel fake with a lot of younger artists, Rick Shaffer has the necessary experience and years in the music business to make it all work. Fans of dirty, unpolished fuzzy garage blues rock will feel as if they have just stepped out of a time machine.
Pascal Thiel ● DisAgreement ● Luxembourg