“Tightrope Ride” is the new project from that extraordinary purveyor of dirty, crunchy rock and roll, Rick Shaffer, and this album is both, one of his dirtiest and shiniest yet. Teaming up with Teddy Rixon (bass) and Stevie Carlisle (drums), Shaffer’s iconic Proto-Garage Blues Rock aesthetic, takes another giant leap forward in the legendary rock n’ roll canon. Loaded with fierce lyrical explorations and filthy, grimy guitars, Shaffer quite literally grinds his way through these 10 tracks with a guitar sound that is literally on fire. The album is shrouded in a backdrop of frequently heavy, often thrashed up guitars, which regularly take in sounds reminiscent of The Stooges, The Velvet Underground and The Rolling Stones at their most explosive.
“Tightrope Ride”, is the eleventh album by guitarist, singer, songwriter Rick Shaffer, recorded in Detroit during the three years after his last album, “Broken Souls”. The production idea was to incorporate the 1970’s Iggy/Bowie project sound, with Shaffer’s Proto-Garage Blues Rock. Mission accomplished.
The album is not Shaffer’s attempt to break new ground as such, but to embrace and blend the core elements of a 70’s sound that is all but lost today. Which ironically, could be deemed as innovative in the shallow of today’s so called rock n’ roll scene.
The album opens with “Too Much”, which is Rick Shaffer’s molten testimony to what his band is like when they’re seriously on their grind. Inspired in part by Dave Allan’s Blues Theme and early Stooges, Shaffer and crew buckle the sonic template with gritty riffs, percussive momentum, and gravelly vocals. Shaffer then climbs perfectly into the pocket of the rustic groove on “Ninety Nine Times”, which has an insanely infectious guitar hook driving its impulse.
“Another Day” maintains the same propulsive swing, supported by jangling guitars, echoing harmonicas, and rolling basslines. The jangle becomes incessant on the more melodic “Borderline” and then turns into a dirty overdriven crunch on “Bust Out”, where Shaffer is totally in his ass-kicking element, tearing and twisting the sounds out of his six-string companion.
Something he takes to an angsty and explosive level on “Expectation”. The energy level is amped up considerably here, as Shaffer drives the guitar sludge with intense expression. That Rick Shaffer is in no mood to offer any respite from his adrenalin-pumping guitar templates, is clearly apparent with “Need Your Love” and then confirmed on “Two Fools”.
There is an undeniable pull and power to Shaffer’s guitar sound, which demands to be acknowledged and admired, for its sheer aggressive and raw stridency quotient. “Wild Dance” is pure raw energy without the need to shift the beat from its straight mid-tempo stride. The same principal drives the pulsating, banging core of the album closer, “Wrap It Up”.
Essentially Rick Shaffer’s complaint of a decaying society, proclaimed through a series of personal stories, “Tightrope Ride” leaves an indelibly strong impression. There’s an immediacy, that hooks you from the get-go. It is fiery and intense. It is loud, and ferocious.
Only someone like Shaffer could pull off something like this, in the year 2022. After the release of “Tightrope Ride”, Rick Shaffer can sit back and relax, as he has proven once again that he can still rock out when he wants to, and he can do it better than just about anyone else around right now.