France Falls For The Reds

Only last week we noted, with a certain year's end cattiness, that a number of area-based rock bands had released records in 1979, and that all of those efforts had gone virtually unnoticed by the buying public.  But no sooner did those words see print, than they deserved to be eaten — at least with regard to The Reds®, a hard-rocking Philadelphia quartet who debuted last year with an album on A&M Records.

According to the latest news, The Reds' album, which surfaced briefly on American pop charts and radio playlists, may soon "go gold" in France, where record sales of 100,000 units or more are honored by a gold disk, as opposed to the 500,000 figure that prevails in this country.  "The album is definitely taking off in France, and there is quite a buzz there about the group," qualified the A&M spokesperson.

The bands' manager claims with a certain civic, as well as professional pride, that The Reds® are "the first Philadelphia rock 'n roll group to record at a Philadelphia studio and remain living in the Philadelphia area," as if that were a feat worthy of Houdini.  Either way, though, sales approaching 100,000 units or more are magical enough for any new recording act.  As for The Reds® themselves, they formed about two years ago, one of many local "new wave" bands inspired by the high primal energy that had finally begun to revive pop-rock.

After generating some good East Coast response with a couple of self-produced, self-distributed singles (first "Joey," then "Self Reduction"), they caught the ear of A&M Records and, more specifically, ace producer David Kershenbaum (currently riding high as Joe Jackson's studio Svengali).  Kershenbaum produced The Reds® album locally at Veritable Studios.

For its part, A&M Records notes in its brief Reds biography that "when the needle on a VU meter sweeps into the red it means whatever is being recorded has pushed beyond normal limits."  Extending this image to his group's name, Rick Shaffer echoes: "We feel that what we do is totally in the red."  With The Reds® apparently edging into the black, Shaffer may have to broaden his metaphor.

∎ Matt Damsker — The Bulletin, Philadelphia