Two years after “Fugitives From The Laughing House,” Philadelphia duo The Reds® is back with another self-released album titled “Early Nothing". If you neglect their history, you might think they are another bunch of late '60's proto punk revivalists, but that wouldn’t do them any justice. Founded in the late '70's, they released a couple of LP's on a major label, and even entered the American charts. In the mid-'80's, they concentrated their energy more on movie soundtracks and had their music featured in Miami Vice. Guitarist Rick Shaffer was doing session work for artists like Marianne Faithful, Peter Murphy and Marc Almond, while keyboarder Bruce Cohen was writing scores for plays. They resurfaced briefly in the early '90's with their first self-released album “Cry Tomorrow,” just to go on a hiatus for the next fifteen years.
It seems as if Shaffer and Cohen have finally recaptured their early rhythm, as they prove dauntlessly on their new CD “Early Nothing.” Already the opener “Big Boy” sets the pace for what to expect. Shaffer is playing a guitar that sounds as if he swapped the strings with razor blades, and his vocals have this haunting quality reminiscent of Iggy Pop and Suicide’s Alan Vega. Cohen’s keyboards cover all grounds, from psychedelic organs over repetitive piano patterns to atmospheric synth carpets. He’s also in charge of bass and percussion, although I get the impression that some of the beats are programmed, although that doesn’t disturb. In fact they add a hypnotic quality that recalls the mesmerizing years of the Velvet Underground. This all is equipped with an authentic film noir quality, as if Raymond Chandler had decided to start a second career as frontman for a rock’n’roll band.
Nowadays there are many young bands that have rediscovered the chic of '60's psychedelia and early '70's proto-punk, and who are even quite successful with their revivalist art. Let us not forget though that The Reds® were there when it was still in its early days, making their current releases more a continuation of what they started in the '70's than just another band trying to jump on the bandwagon. It adds to their sincerity and integrity that they not only self-release their music these days, but even sell them at customer friendly prices. Fans of the aforementioned bands are encouraged to get acquainted with The Reds® and their excellent new CD “Early Nothing."