Rasputin (song)

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This article is about the song by Boney M.. For the Jack Lucien song, see Rasputin (Jack Lucien song).
"Rasputin"
Single by Boney M.
from the album Nightflight to Venus
Released 28 August 1978
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1978
Genre Pop, Euro Disco
Length 4:42 (7" version)
7:33 (12" version)
5:51 (album version)
Label Hansa Records (FRG)
Sire Records (USA)
Atlantic Records (AUS, SWE)
Writer(s) Frank Farian, Fred Jay and George Reyam (Hans-Jörg Mayer)
Producer(s) Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Rivers of Babylon"/"Brown Girl in the Ring"
(1978)
"Rasputin"
(1978)
"Mary's Boy Child - Oh My Lord"
(1978)

"Rasputin" is a 1978 euro disco hit single by the Germany-based pop and euro disco group Boney M., the second from their album Nightflight to Venus. The song is a semi-biographical song about Grigori Rasputin, a friend and advisor of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family during the early 20th century. The song variously sensationalizes Rasputin as a playboy, mystical healer, and political demiurge. The tune of the song is based on the Turkish song Kâtibim.

Subject[edit]

The real Rasputin

The song references Grigori Rasputin's alleged healing of hemophiliac Tsarevich Alexei of Russia, and how this endeared him to the boy's mother, the Tsaritsa Alexandra Fyodorovna (former Princess Alix of Hesse). It also claims that Rasputin was Alexandra's paramour ("Ra Ra Rasputin: lover of the Russian queen - there was a cat that really was gone"). As "Russia's greatest love machine", the "Moscow chicks" thought him lovely. The song states that Rasputin's political power overshadowed that of the Tsar himself in "all affairs of state". When his sexual and political acts became intolerable "men of higher standing" plotted his downfall, despite the fact that "the ladies begged" them not to.

The end of the song recounts a modified version of a popular description of the events that culminated in Rasputin's assassination, as perpetrated by Felix Yusupov, Vladimir Purishkevich, and Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia on December 16, 1916 (O.S.). Specifically, the song states that Rasputin's assassins fatally shot him after he survived the poisoning of his wine with a very large dose of cyanide.

While the song accurately indicates that many unfavorable rumors damaged Rasputin's reputation, there is no verifiable evidence to suggest that he had an affair with Alexandra.

Reception and legacy[edit]

The song rose to the top of the charts in West Germany and Austria, and went to #2 in the United Kingdom and Switzerland. It was another number 1 hit for Boney M. in Australia, providing them a second (and last) chart topper in that country (the other one being "Rivers of Babylon").

Although the song was written and performed in English (with a smattering of German - But the kasatschok he danced really wunderbar!), it enjoyed great popularity in the Soviet Union, and is credited with making Rasputin famous again there,[1] although it was omitted from the Russian pressing of the album and Boney M. were barred from performing the song during their ten performances in Moscow in December 1978.

During their visit to Poland in 1979, Boney M. performed Rasputin despite being asked not to by government officials. The show was broadcast on national TV the next day, after the song was edited out of their performance.

The song has been covered by a number of other bands in varying musical styles, perhaps most notably by the Finnish folk metal band Turisas. Boiled in Lead also covered it in a heavy metal version.

The Washington, D.C.-based dance/rock band Ra Ra Rasputin takes its name from the song.[2]

Versions[edit]

The album pressings of Nightflight to Venus features the title track segued into "Rasputin". Initial LP pressings include the full-length 6:40 version of "Rasputin", most notable for an instrumental interlude in the 3rd verse between the lines "though he was a brute, they just fell into his arms" and "Then one night some men of higher standing ..." that was later cut out. The second LP pressing featured a 6:03 version, subsequent pressings a 5:51 version. Boney M.'s single edit is completely different from the edit used for Frank Farian's Gilla recording in German that followed in November 1978 (without success).

The single[edit]

The German and Benelux pressings were backed with "Painter Man" - most other territories chose "Never Change Lovers in the Middle of the Night". Only the UK pressing had the full 5:32 version, most countries faded it by 5:02; the French Carrere release had a 4:45 version. In the United Kingdom, "Painter Man" was issued as an A-side single in February 1979, giving the group a #10 hit. In Canada, "Rasputin" was the A-side and became a major hit, topping the Canadian RPM magazine Adult Contemporary singles chart for two weeks beginning March 24, 1979, and peaking at #7 on RPM's Top 100 pop singles chart that same week. [1] [2] Despite the Canadian success, the song failed to chart in the United States.

Turisas version[edit]

"Rasputin"
Single by Turisas
Released September 21, 2007
Recorded September 21 – September 26, 2007 at Sound Supreme Studio, Hämeenlinna
Genre Folk metal
Length 8:19
Label Century Media
Producer(s) Mathias Nygård
Turisas singles chronology
"To Holmgard and Beyond"
(2007)
"Rasputin"
(2007)
"Supernaut"
(2010)

Finnish folk metal band Turisas recorded a cover of Rasputin, released on September 21, 2007 through Century Media.[3] According to Warlord Nygard of Turisas, interviewed in Metal Hammer magazine he responded with: "There's a ferry route between Finland and Sweden where people go to buy cheap booze and get wasted. I was sitting there watching a band playing 70s disco covers. They blasted into "Rasputin," and I realised that it would fit perfectly for Turisas." The band has been playing the cover live for a few years and finally decided to record it because of the very positive feedback by the fans.[4] A music video was shot as well.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Rasputin" – 3:56
  2. "Battle Metal" – 4:23

A limited edition 7" picture vinyl features "The Court of Jarisleif" as b-side.

iTunes edition:
  1. "Rasputin" – 3:53
  2. "Rasputin (Heavy Demo Version)" – 3:53
  3. "Rasputin (Instrumental)" – 3:51

Personnel[edit]

Inspirations[edit]

The Hindi language song "I'll do the Talking" from the 2012 Indian film Agent Vinod is an official remake of Rasputin. Composer Pritam Chakraborty, known for lifting tunes from foreign songs, bought the rights for the remake.[5]

Croatian band Vatrogasci (featuring Željko Pervan) made a parody of the song in 1994 naming it Raspiči, opiči.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dave Carpenter, "Rasputin is fondly remembered; Russia's mad monk is Uncle Grigory in Pokrovskoye," The Montreal Gazette, July 15, 1995, pg. J.4.
  2. ^ "CD review: Ra Ra Rasputin's 'Ra Ra Rasputin'". The Washington Post. December 10, 2010. 
  3. ^ "TURISAS - premiere Rasputin video clip!". Turisas.com. 2007-09-07. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  4. ^ "TURISAS – TO RELEASE 'RASPUTIN' AS A SINGLE". Turisas.com. 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  5. ^ "Pritam buys Boney M's Rasputin's rights". The Times of India. February 3, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 

External links[edit]