Rasputin (song)

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"Rasputin"
Boney M. - Rasputin (1978 single).jpg
Single by Boney M.
from the album Nightflight to Venus
B-side "Painter Man"
Released August 28, 1978
Format
Recorded May 1978
Genre
Length 4:42
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Rivers of Babylon" / "Brown Girl in the Ring"
(1978)
"Rasputin"
(1978)
"Mary's Boy Child – Oh My Lord"
(1978)
"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. With a tune resembling the second half of the Turkish folk song "Kâtibim", it 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 manipulator.

Composition[edit]

Grigori Rasputin, the subject of the song

"Rasputin" references the hope held by Tsaritsa Alexandra Fyodorovna that Grigori Rasputin would heal her hemophiliac son, Tsarevich Alexei of Russia. 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" (although liberally rhyming the last syllable of his name with the word "queen"). As "Russia's greatest love machine", the "Moscow chicks" thought him lovely. The song claims 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. Although the song states "he was a brute", it claims that the ladies "just fell into his arms."

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, on December 16, 1916 (O.S.). The song claims that Rasputin's assassins fatally shot him after he survived the poisoning of his wine.

While the song accurately re-tells many of the unfavorable rumors that damaged Rasputin's reputation, there is no verifiable evidence to suggest that he had an affair with Alexandra.[citation needed]

AllMusic's journalist Donald A. Guarisco described it as "a tribute to the legendary Russian historical figure that uses balalaikas to create its textured rhythm guitar hook."[1] Its melody has been compared to that of the traditional Turkish song "Kâtibim," but the band denied any similarity.[2]

Reception and legacy[edit]

The song rose to the top of the charts in Germany and Austria, and went to No. 2 in the United Kingdom and Switzerland. It was also another No. 1 hit for Boney M. in Australia, giving them their second (and last) chart topper in that country (the other one being "Rivers of Babylon").

AllMusic's Donald A. Guarisco called the track "the oddest and most unusual and interesting combination of musical elements" from Nightflight to Venus, then picked it as one of his "track picks" from the album.[1]

Although the song was written and performed in English, with a smattering of GermanBut the kasatschok he danced really wunderbar! – it enjoyed great popularity in the Soviet Union, and is credited with making Rasputin famous again there,[3] 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 Sopot show was broadcast on national TV the next day after the song was edited out of their performance, but it was broadcast on radio full and live.

The song has been covered by a number of other bands in varying musical styles. Finnish band Turisas recorded a folk metal version, while Boiled in Lead covered it as a folk punk song. The British comic book Nikolai Dante cited a lyric from the song for the title of its story called "Russia's Greatest Love Machine" in the 1997 issue of 2000 AD. The Washington, D.C.-based dance/rock band Ra Ra Rasputin takes its name from the song.[4]

Versions[edit]

The album pressings of Nightflight to Venus feature the title track segued into "Rasputin". Initial LP pressings included the full-length, 6:26 version of "Rasputin",[5] most notable for an instrumental interlude in the third 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). Both "Rasputin" and "Nightflight to Venus" use the drum line of Cozy Powell's 1973 single, "Dance With The Devil".

Release[edit]

The German and Benelux pressings were backed with "Painter Man"; for most other territories the B-side chosen was "Never Change Lovers in the Middle of the Night". The UK pressings had a 5:32 version; most countries faded it to 5:02, while the French Carrere Records 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 No. 10 hit. In Canada, "Rasputin" was the A-side and became a major hit, topping the Canadian RPM magazine's Adult Contemporary singles chart for two weeks beginning March 24, 1979, and peaking at No. 7 on RPM's Top 100 pop singles chart that same week.[6][7] Despite the Canadian success, the song failed to chart in the United States.

Turisas version[edit]

"Rasputin"
Rasputin (Turisas).jpg
Single by Turisas
Released September 21, 2007
Recorded 2007 at Sound Supreme Studio, Hämeenlinna
Genre Folk metal
Length 8:19
Label Century
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Mathias Nygård
Turisas singles chronology
"To Holmgard and Beyond"
(2007)
"Rasputin"
(2007)
"Supernaut"
(2010)
"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.[8] When asked during an interview for the magazine Metal Hammer why they covered the song, band member Warlord Nygard 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 played the cover live for a few years and finally decided to record a studio version of it because of very positive feedback from fans.[9] 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 the 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". However, according to its composer Pritam, it is more closely based on the Serbian folk song "Ruse kose curo imaš", which inspired "Rasputin".[10]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Guarisco, Donald A. "Boney M – Nightflight to Venus". AllMusic. All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  2. ^ Plastino, Goffredo (2003). Mediterranean Mosaic: Popular Music and Global Sounds. Psychology Press. p. 217. ISBN 9780415936569. 
  3. ^ Dave Carpenter, "Rasputin is fondly remembered; Russia's mad monk is Uncle Grigory in Pokrovskoye," The Montreal Gazette, July 15, 1995, pg. J.4.
  4. ^ "CD review: Ra Ra Rasputin's 'Ra Ra Rasputin'". The Washington Post. December 10, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Boney M. - Nightflight To Venus (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  6. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca. 
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca. 
  8. ^ "TURISAS - premiere Rasputin video clip!". Turisas.com. 2007-09-07. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  9. ^ "TURISAS – TO RELEASE 'RASPUTIN' AS A SINGLE". Turisas.com. 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  10. ^ "Pritam buys Boney M's Rasputin's rights". The Times of India. February 3, 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-06. 

External links[edit]