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RASPUTINA

Prog Folk • United States


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Rasputina biography
Rasputina are a New York-based band whose music is distinguished by it's cello-driven focus, quirky music style and lyrical basis in historical references ranging from the Neolithic to fairly modern, but heavily centered in the Victorian era.

Band founder and leader Melora Creager was originally born in Kansas City then adopted and raised in Emporia, Kansas. Creager learned to play cello as a child, but abandoned it for several years before resuming her interest while studying photography at New York's Parsons School of Design in the 1980s. In the wake of several supporting appearances over the next several years (including a concert tour as Nirvana?s cellist) Creager formed the Travelling Ladies' Cello Society (later Rasputina) with fellow cellist Julia Kent, who would remain with Creager for ten years before departing to pursue a solo career.

The two became a fixture in New York-area clubs for several years before scoring a record deal with Columbia in the mid-90s. They would release two records for Columbia before moving to Moby's label Instinct in 2001. Numerous albums and lineups have followed. Today Creager performs with protégés Daniel DeJesus and Catie D'Amica and recently released the sixth Rasputina studio to go along with two solo releases and numerous live, promo and limited edition recordings.

>> Bio by Bob Moore (aka ClemofNazareth) <<



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RASPUTINA Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy RASPUTINA Music


Thanks For The EtherThanks For The Ether
Columbia 2009
Audio CD$9.08
$0.01 (used)
Cabin FeverCabin Fever
Instinct Records 2002
Audio CD$5.99
$0.01 (used)
Sister KinderhookSister Kinderhook
FILTHY BONNET 2010
Audio CD$8.84
$4.00 (used)
How We Quit the ForestHow We Quit the Forest
Filthy Bonnet 2012
Audio CD$11.89
$12.79 (used)
Transylvanian RegurgitationsTransylvanian Regurgitations
Sony 1997
Audio CD$1.15
$0.30 (used)
Oh Perilous WorldOh Perilous World
Limited Edition
Filthy Bonnet 2007
Audio CD$9.00
$0.98 (used)
Frustration PlantationFrustration Plantation
Instinct Records 2004
Audio CD$29.25
$0.95 (used)
A Radical RecitalA Radical Recital
Filthy Bonnet Co. 2005
Audio CD$8.95
$1.29 (used)
Great American Gingerbread: Rarities & Neglected ItemsGreat American Gingerbread: Rarities & Neglected Items
Filthy Bonnet 2011
Audio CD$10.15
$9.44 (used)
The Lost & Found - 2nd EditionThe Lost & Found - 2nd Edition
EP
Instinct Records 2003
Audio CD$22.22
$0.32 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
RASPUTINA: Transylvanian Regurgitations LP COLUMBIA RECORDS CAS1343 US 1997 NM US $35.99 Buy It Now 5h 31m
Rasputina - My Fever Broke Ep [CD New] US $7.71 Buy It Now 17h 55m
Oh Perlious World [Limited Edition] by Rasputina (CD, Jun-2007, 2 Discs,... US $8.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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Great American Gingerbread [Digipak] * by Rasputina (CD, Apr-2011, 2 Discs,... US $9.99 [0 bids]
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Rasputina How We Quit The Forest CD 1998 Longbox Promo Book RARE US $19.99 Buy It Now 2 days
A Radical Recital - Rasputina (CD 2005) goth rock US $8.00 Buy It Now 2 days
Instinct/Shadow/Evolver 2003 CD Sampler16 songs! Rasputina, Luka Bloom, 808 Stat US $9.95 Buy It Now 2 days
Transylvanian Regurgitations EP by Rasputina CD 1997 Sony Marilyn Manson remix US $1.00 [0 bids]
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Oh Perlious World [Limited Edition] by Rasputina (CD, Jun-2007, 2 Discs, Filthy US $8.00 [0 bids]
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RASPUTINA - A RADICAL RECITAL - NEW CD US $10.52 Buy It Now 5 days
A Radical Recital by Rasputina (CD, Sep-2005, Filthy Bonnet) US $8.00 [0 bids]
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The Lost & Found [EP] by Rasputina (CD, Jan-2003, Instinct) US $2.00 [0 bids]
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My Fever Broke [EP] by Rasputina (CD, Aug-2002, Instinct) US $8.00 [0 bids]
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Frustration Plantation [Bonus CD] by Rasputina 2-Disc (CD, Mar-2004, Instinct) US $4.00 [0 bids]
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Rasputina Thanks For The Ether - US $15.99 Buy It Now 5 days
How We Quit the Forest by Rasputina (CD, Apr-2012, Filthy Bonnet) US $9.99 Buy It Now 5 days
Rasputina - Sister Kinderhook (2010) - New - Compact Disc US $11.30 Buy It Now 5 days
RASPUTINA-CABIN FEVER CD NEW US $13.50 Buy It Now 6 days
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Thanks For The Ether Rasputina Audio CD US $5.99 Buy It Now 12 days
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RASPUTINA shows & tickets


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RASPUTINA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

RASPUTINA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.91 | 3 ratings
Thanks for the Ether
1996
2.05 | 3 ratings
How We Quit the Forest
1998
3.05 | 2 ratings
Cabin Fever!
2002
3.05 | 2 ratings
Frustration Plantation
2004
1.95 | 2 ratings
Perplexions (as Melora Creager)
2006
2.95 | 3 ratings
Oh Perilous World
2007
3.51 | 3 ratings
Sister Kinderhook
2010

RASPUTINA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
A Radical Recital
2005
4.00 | 1 ratings
Melora a la Basilica (as Melora Creager)
2008
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Pregnant Concert
2010

RASPUTINA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

RASPUTINA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Great American Gingerbread
2011

RASPUTINA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Transylvanian Concubine
1993
0.00 | 0 ratings
Three Lil' Nothin's
1996
2.05 | 2 ratings
Transylvanian Regurgitations
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Olde HeadBoard
1998
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Lost & Found
2001
2.00 | 1 ratings
My Fever Broke
2002
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Lost and Found, 2nd Edition
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Willow Tree Triptych
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
Ancient Cross-Dressing Songs
2009

RASPUTINA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Pregnant Concert by RASPUTINA album cover Live, 2010
3.00 | 1 ratings

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The Pregnant Concert
Rasputina Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

— First review of this album —
3 stars Rasputina's third live album was recorded during bandleader Melora Creager's second pregnancy which led to the obvious title 'The Pregnant Concert'. The tracks here are all from a single show, recorded at the East coast Knitting Factory the same week it opened at its Brooklyn location, relocated there from a larger Manhattan setting for the purpose of accommodating cozier, more personal affairs like this one. The new venue seats only about 300 patrons so the crowd couldn't have been very big this night, but they are clearly devoted fans and dote on Creager, fellow cellist Daniel DeJesus and drummer Julie Griner between (and sometimes during) the songs. Creager also engages in some witty banter between tracks, mostly quick jokes or background about one song or another and occasional references to her growing waistline.

The only new song here is actually a cover, the Undertones punk anthem 'Teenage Kicks' which DJ John Peel (and hoards of other DJs) went gaga over back in my high school days. I personally thought the Undertones to be a bit bland back then, and particularly Feargal Sharkey (his solo career proved me right), but this became one of their more enduring hit singles and Creager does it justice with that way she has of projecting the mood and meaning of a serious song while sitting legs akimbo in a corset and face paint while cranking on a cello. Nice trick, that.

The others are mostly original compositions, smatterings of the more well-known songs from four of the first five Rasputina albums and Creager's first solo record 'Perplexions', as well as 'Kinderhook Hoopskirt Works' and 'Holocaust of Giants' which would appear on the band's excellent 'Sister Kinderhook' CD in late 2010. For some reason there is nothing here from 2002's 'Cabin Fever!', probably because that was also the most un Rasputina- like album of them all complete with too much electronic noise and industrial arrangements. Not the sort of thing that would translate well to the quaint environ of the Knitting Factory and not the best Rasputina work anyway so no big loss.

But as with just about every Rasputina album there are also uniquely interpreted cover tunes as well. Other than the Undertones tune none of them are new for Creager. The Ray Davies lullaby 'I Go to Sleep' is a great choice. The song was written by Davies during the birth of his first child in 1965 and was most famously covered by Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders. Hynde would of course go on to give birth to a child by Davies, so it's apparently a good song for artists who are about to have a baby.

Another cover is Tom Petty's 'American Girl' which Creager recorded on her 'Perplexions' solo album a few years' prior and again on the live 'Melora a la Basilica'. Of the three versions this one is pretty good but the haunting echo and plaintive cello bowing on the 'Basilica' version outshines this by a fair bit.

The band also includes Sunforest's 'I Want to Mary a Lighthouse Keeper' which originally appeared on A Clockwork Orange (and which Creager also covered on 'Basilica'); this version is a little more lively but both are decent. And they also play the Goldfrapp house hit 'Clowns', again a cover first recorded on 'Basilica' and again a little better and more focused on that one but not bad here.

Finally Creager launches into a rousing rendition of CCR's 'Bad Moon Rising' along with her own 'Rusty the Skatemaker' during an extended encore nearly an hour into the recording. So if nothing else you get your money's worth in quantity.

But don't get me wrong, the quality is good too. The production is solid, the setlist shows an appreciation for fan preference and balance, all three musicians are in good form, and Creager seems to be really enjoying herself and the intimate interaction with her adoring fans. And sometimes that's all you need for a great concert experience, which I'm sure most everyone had that night. A solid three stars and just short of four. But if you can only buy one Rasputina live album I'd recommend 'Melora a la Basilica' over this one. This one is very good; that one is a classic.

peace

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 Oh Perilous World by RASPUTINA album cover Studio Album, 2007
2.95 | 3 ratings

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Oh Perilous World
Rasputina Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars Oh Perilous World was a pretty ambitious undertaking for Melora Creager, who released it under the band name Rasputina despite it being almost completely a solo effort (although Jonathan TeBeest once again provides percussion and plays a bit of piano). This is the sixth Rasputina album and Creager's third release on the Filthy Bonnet Recording Company label in less than three years: one studio, one live and one solo. Despite the presumably small budget she managed to offer the record as a both CD and vinyl album as well as a 2-CD deluxe edition (which is the one I have).

I don't know what the single disc version looks like, but the deluxe edition comes in a rather tasteful trio-fold meant to look something like an old-time radio show program. In addition to the two CDs and several photos, the package includes a 14-page booklet with lyrics and/ or background stories for most of the songs on the first disc. For the first time this album includes all original material (prior Rasputina records all contain at least some covers and/ or traditional tunes), and apparently Creager wrote all the music and lyrics this time around. The themes are loosely based on headlines she culled from various printed and on-line new sources, and range from a couple of songs about the tiny island nation Pitcairn to terrorism to the Katrina hurricane and its aftermath. But like much of Creager's work she isn't constrained by facts or simple recounting of events. Instead she weaves odd, poetic character sketches and fanciful tales based on these themes that are sometimes narrative, sometimes sarcastic and sometimes words that only make sense to her and presumably to the band's most ardent fans.

Despite the lineup consisting only of her and TeBeest, Creager manages to craft some breadth of sound by layering her cello and dulcimer playing and vocals, as well as the various percussion instruments and piano played by TeBeest. I should mention Sarah Bowman also provides some backing vocals.

While I'm tempted to give a blow-by-blow analysis of each song, I think this would be counter-productive since the intent clearly seems to be to lay out a theme and music and let the listener's imagination do the rest for them. I will say that musically "The Pruning" with its strident and slow cello and chilling piano may be the best track on the first disc, while the rather melodic and indie-sounding "Cage in a Cave" is probably the most radio-friendly, although the U.S.'s National Public Radio is about the only place I've ever heard any Rasputina songs on the airwaves.

The second is a little less even. "The Question of Time" is a quirky spoken-word thing (as is "The Humanized Mice", while "Identity Tokens" combines cello with what sounds like a banjo but I believe is actually a dulcimer and a sort of Kafkaesque tale. That song would also appear on Creager's live solo album 'Melora a la Basilica'. There's also another mix of "The Pruning" with male vocals and trio of short spoken-word stories set to droning cello ("Flood Corps", "Desert Vampire" and "The Contractors"), plus a cheesy tune that sounds like an old-time movie score titled "Incapable of Regret". The second disc closes with the lovely cello instrumental "Infidel".

Creager seems to get a little better at her craft each time out and this record is no exception. Still not quite to the level she would achieve with 'Melora a la Basilica' and 'Sister Kinderhook', but definitely on-par with her first two highly-produced albums on the Columbia label in the late nineties. A solid three (out of five) star effort and well recommended to both Rasputina fans and to those who are just curious. This one is worth picking it.

peace

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 Perplexions (as Melora Creager) by RASPUTINA album cover Studio Album, 2006
1.95 | 2 ratings

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Perplexions (as Melora Creager)
Rasputina Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars Other than piano on the opening track, this is a purely solo effort by Melora Creager and even released under her name rather than that of Rasputina, although most of these songs would end up in the Rasputina repertoire and that piano player was Jonathan TeBeest who was a member of the band at the time. This was also the second release on Creager's own Filthy Bonnet label, with all the others before or since being Rasputina records. All songs were written, arranged and produced by Creager except "American Girl" which was written by Tom Petty and has been covered by everyone from Roger McGuinn to Taylor Swift.

And this isn't a full-length CD either, just an EP not even quite twenty minutes long but with Creager managing to squeeze in seven songs in that space.

Like I said, most of these would show up later on either studio, compilation or live Rasputina albums. Only "Lunar Girl Explorer" would become (somewhat) well-known by fans. My biggest complaint with these songs is that none of them seems fully developed, and most of them sound quite stripped-down, especially in comparison with anything Rasputina or Creager had done prior. This is especially true of "American Girl", which plods along with what sounds like overdubbed vocals and cello to give the impression of a duo but that according to the liner notes is just Creager. She would perfect her interpretation of the song later and has an outstanding rendition on the 'Melora a la Basilica' live CD released in 2008.

Otherwise this is an interesting but not particularly memorable solo offering for Creager, issued as a preface to the first full-length recording on her new label, the two-disc 'Oh Perilous World'. I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to find this EP, but all the subsequent studio releases on her label are progressively better so each of them merits some attention. Two stars as a collector piece but no more.

peace

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 A Radical Recital by RASPUTINA album cover Live, 2005
3.00 | 1 ratings

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A Radical Recital
Rasputina Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

— First review of this album —
3 stars The first live album from Rasputina is also (to the best of my knowledge) the first on her own imprint Filthy Bonnet Company. This thing is very much a regional effort, with the live recording done in Pennsylvania and both the mixing and mastering completed in New York City, all by local talent and all within driving distance of bandleader Melora Creager's home in upstate New York.

The performances and the production quality are both quite good, especially considering this is both live and a largely self-funded effort. On some tracks like the rollicking "Howard Hughes" you can here vestiges of Electric Light Orchestra circa the days when they still had actual cello players in the band. Of course I doubt fellow cellist Zoe Keating rode on Creager's shoulders while playing the way Mike Edwards and Andy Craig used to with ELO.

The setlist includes about half of the 2004 studio release 'Frustration Plantation' which the band was undoubtedly touring to promote at the time. The rest of the tracks are a mix of tunes from the first three Rasputina records, with the distribution pretty evenly split between them.

Most of the more well-known songs Creager had written to this point are here including the depressing "Rose K."; a jaunty and partially a cappella version of Frustration Plantation's "Wicked Dickie" featuring harmonized vocals from both Creager and Keating; and the fantasy family biography "Momma was an Opium-Smoker" that calls to mind the Decemberists' "My Mother was a Chinese Trapeze Artist".

There are a few duds as far as I'm concerned, but not a lot of them. The cover of the 40s London theater chorus "If Your Kisses Can't Hold the Man You Love" didn't really connect when it appeared on 'Frustration Plantation' and it doesn't fare much better here. And "The Mayor" (also from 'Frustration Plantation') gets mired down in repetitive faux dramatic vocals and muddled percussion and just fails to take off at all despite running on for well over four minutes, an eternity for a Rasputina song.

As with most Rasputina albums there are cover tunes, in this case two of them. Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" first appeared on Rasputina's 2001 'Lost & Found' EP, while Heart's 70s classic "Barracuda" is launched for the first time as far as I know. Melora Creager has a pretty decent acid folk voice, but she isn't even in the same galaxy with the legendary goddess pipes of Heart's Ann Wilson, even on a good day. That said I like what Creager and Keating accomplish on their twin cellos, even while percussionist Jonathon TeBeest plays it a bit safe on drums. His drumming is a bit better on "Rock and Roll" but of course can't compete with the late John Bonham any more than Creager could with Wilson. And that's not the point anyway since these are offered up as loving and pretty much respectful tributes by Creager to bands and songs she no doubt grew up jamming to and valuing. Not to mention familiar songs make audiences go wild when they are faced with a concert filled with otherwise unfamiliar and strange tunes. Speaking of the Decemberists, their leader Colin Meloy surely understands that and regularly includes classic rock covers in that band's concerts, particularly as lead-ins or encores.

So nothing new here, but there rarely is on a live album. Very decent production, pretty good song selection, and mostly flawless execution by the trio of Creager, Keating and TeBeest. For those reasons three stars out of five seems fair, so that's what we'll go with. 'Melora de la Basilica' is far superior in both song and production quality, but that record was also a limited edition and kind of pricey. This one is pretty easy to find and not too expensive; you could do much worse.

peace

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 The Lost and Found, 2nd Edition by RASPUTINA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
2.00 | 1 ratings

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The Lost and Found, 2nd Edition
Rasputina Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

— First review of this album —
2 stars This is basically the same EP as the 2001 Rasputina 'Lost & Found' EP except that it was released by Instinct Records and it includes two tracks that weren't on the first version.

Both EPs include nothing but covers, including the prog/proto-prog classics from Pink Floyd ("Wish You Were Here"), the Velvet Underground ("All Tomorrow's Parties"), and Led Zeppelin ("Rock and Roll"), all set to amped cello, Melora Creager's disjointed vocals (usually layered on top of each other to give them range and depth) along with programmed drum and percussion sequences. There's also a tribute to Marilyn Manson's "Tourniquet" that I suppose was a result of his producing an extended single for her a few year's prior; and a weird inclusion with the traditional children's rhyme "This Little Piggy" (went to market, this little piggy stayed home?).

In between the first version and this one Rasputina had signed to Instinct Records and cranked out a studio release ('Cabin Fever') that had the band expanded to a cello trio and featured uncharacteristic industrial and electronic sounds for the first time. That lineup would splinter shortly after the album released, much like the band's first lineup disbanded after their first two records. Creager pretty took over the operation after that as a solo effort augmented with a real drummer and revolving accompaniment and guest musicians. So when 'Lost & Found' was reissued I assume she was riding solo once again.

The two new tracks are both rock standards, those being Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" and the Pat Benatar 80s feminism anthem "Fire and Ice". The first sounds like something like the Cowboy Junkies on lithium (and if you know that band that's saying something). The latter is pretty much rocking with plenty of percussion and cello bowing of the wild abandon variety.

Nothing here is classic or particularly memorable, but like the first version of the EP it makes for a decent collector piece for hardcore fans. I only picked it up during a Rasputina buying frenzy a couple years ago that had me searching out mostly used copies on Amazon market and other websites. I have to admit I've never played it much and had to dust it off to refresh myself enough just to write this review. Three stars for them but only two for the rest of us, and not particularly recommended.

peace

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 The Lost & Found by RASPUTINA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2001
2.00 | 1 ratings

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The Lost & Found
Rasputina Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

— First review of this album —
2 stars If you ever wondered what Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" sounded like delivered with cello, programmed drum sequences and off-kilter female vocals by a chick who jammed to the original as a Midwestern teenager dreaming of getting out of the heartland and making it big, then this is your record.

Rasputina was pretty much reduced to a Melora Creager solo act by the time this EP released in 2001. She hadn't quite mastered her talent yet for crafting witty and often theatrical compositions centered around a combination of historical and seemingly autobiographical themes either. But she was already skilled in putting her unique cello- driven spin on traditional, pop and rock classics, something she showed an early penchant for on the first few Rasputina studio releases.

This was a self-produced, self-released EP that filled the gap between her Columbia Records days and a stint with the Instinct label. In addition to the Floyd classic she also offers an interpretation of Marilyn Manson's "Tourniquet" complete with tortured cello, more percussion sequencing and schizophrenic vocals that veer perilously between torrid and helium-driven.

Creager has recorded several traditional tunes of various origins, and the one included here is possibly her oddest choice ever: a raging recitation of the children's nursery rhyme "This Little Piggy". But things get somewhat better quickly with a spacey and quite inspired version of the Velvet Underground breakthrough single "All Tomorrow's Parties" on which she performs at least three vocals parts in addition to hypnotic, almost droning cello strands.

The record wraps up with a clever rework of the Led Zeppelin IV classic "Rock and Roll". As with "Wish You Were Here" she does an admirable job of translating bluesy guitar riffs to the cello, stretching the limits of what I thought was possible with that instrument.

This isn't a timeless classic, or even the best stuff Rasputina or Creager ever did; in fact, it's not even close. It is a worthy collector piece for fans and therefore a two star effort, but not much more for the broader music-fan community. The EP would be reissued with a couple additional tracks two years later after Rasputina scored a contract with Instinct; more about that version later. In the meantime hunt this down if you are a fan or a really obsessive Floyd fanatic; otherwise skip it.

peace

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 My Fever Broke by RASPUTINA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2002
2.00 | 1 ratings

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My Fever Broke
Rasputina Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

— First review of this album —
2 stars 'My Fever Broke' may have been intended as a promo EP by the band's new label, Instinct Records. This was an awkward period for the band, having been dropped by Columbia Records following a couple of tepidly-received studio albums and a last-ditch promotional effort that consisted of sort of goth/industrial club remixes of some of the band's tunes by none other than Marilyn Manson. You can't make this stuff up.

Unfortunately for Melora Creager and Rasputina, Instinct didn't seem to be any better a fit for them than Columbia. Instinct is better known as a rave and techno label. They're probably best known for launching recording careers for the likes of Moby and Cabaret Voltaire. Not exactly the right place for a trio of slightly pretentious cellists dolled up in 19th century underwear and cranking out tortured acoustic folk tales of wanderlust, small-town Americanitis, and the occasional random pop cover twisted beyond recognition.

I suppose Creager was just trying to make a living, but the stuff on this disc isn't all that great and certainly doesn't rank among the band's better work. Like "Transylvania Regurgitations", an earlier promo EP issued by Columbia, this one consists of several remixes from the band's most recent studio album, in this case 2002's 'Cabin Fever!'.

First up is "At the State Fair with a White Trash Sucker" (aka "State Fair"), a creepy tale about a country girl with big dreams and a crush of convenience on the local pig farmer's kid and apparently a little history with bad relationships. Anyway that's not important, nor is this song in my opinion. It was a mildly charming tune in its original form and one that showed Creager working through the process of defining her band's sound and style, but is not memorable otherwise. In addition to the opening track version, this same song is repeated in 'tweaker' and 'tweaker ambient' remxes, the latter being somewhat distinguished by a short acoustic interlude midway through the song. Otherwise these are nothing more than studio redubs of the same song that I suppose the label hoped would get some house play in alternative clubs of the day. I don't think that probably happened.

Another pair of remixes are "Sweetwaterkill" and "Deep in the SweetWater" (like 'State Fair' the same song with different titles), also originally from "Cabin Fever!" and once again the programmed drum rhythm and techno wizardry is slightly impressive from a technical standpoint, but is not the right stuff for this music and has the same ultimate effect as pouring ketchup on a juicy plate of grilled ribs (for those not familiar - it ruins them).

"Antiquehighheelreddollshoes" is added verbatim from "Cabin Fever!" more as filler than anything else since there's not even an attempt to remix or remaster it.

The only thing really of interest here is the Belle & Sebastian cover "The Fox in the Snow". This is pure indie pop but is the closest Creager comes during her Insitnct days to delivering something that represents the indie folk heart of this band. If only this CD had more like it.

Finally there is a short JPEG video from a live show at New York City's Knitting Factory, filmed I assume during the promotional tour for 'Cabin Fever!'. The one thing worth noting is that nobody in the band or the audience seem to be enjoying themselves (either that or they all take themselves way to seriously).

So if you haven't figured it out by now this one is for collectors only. Tow stars is the best I can manage. If I remember right I think this may have been one of the first promo CDs I ever received, and I promptly forgot about the band for another three or four years until Creager started putting out stuff on her own label. I'd suggest you forget this EP as well and either check out the band's first two albums on Columbia, or the self-produced work after 2005. This one ain't that good.

peace

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 Transylvanian Regurgitations by RASPUTINA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1997
2.05 | 2 ratings

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Transylvanian Regurgitations
Rasputina Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars I believe this was intended to be some sort of promo maxi-single for Columbia following Rasputina's debut album on that label, 'Thanks for the Ether'. In fact, all the tracks here come from that album.

On the plus side the label did have the good taste to include the best of the studio album, including the cerebral "Howard Hughes"; a charming acoustic rendition of "Rusty the Skatemaker" that would become of the band's staple songs; and the first of many covers with a faithful recital of Melanie's early 70s pop hit "Brand New Key" (the Rollerskate Song).

The rest of the disc is comprised of three separate versions of the title track "Transylvania Regurgitations". There's the original from 'Ether', along with two remix editions.

Marilyn Manson did the remixes, and both feature his longtime bassist Twiggy Ramirez on electric guitar. Both are peppier than the original. The radio edit features plenty of power chords and programmed drum tracks, while the club mix.includes some guitar but mostly drum tracks again along with Manson on keyboards. Neither is either remotely progressive, folksy or anything like the band had done prior or would do much in the future (with the exception of their 2002 release 'Cabin Fever' which would also include guitars, programmed drums and a dose of industrial noise).

Not much else to say about this one. Obviously this is for collectors only; even the packaging is pretty sparse with only a single page insert listing credits along with a black and white photo of a screeching rhesus monkey. Weird.

Anyway, two stars for collectors but not much recommended for anyone else. Moving on now to the band's first live record, 'A Radical Recital', which looks to be much more interesting.

peace

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 Frustration Plantation by RASPUTINA album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Frustration Plantation
Rasputina Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars Another album and another lineup for Rasputina. The group is down from three to two cellos with band leader Melora Creager and new member Zoe Keating, who would be gone herself by the next time Rasputina entered the studio. Creager also added a male band member for the first time, percussionist Jonathon TeBeest, and turned over drum machine programming duties to movie soundtrack veteran Joseph Bishara who also co-produced the record with Creager.

Creager composed most of the music once again although she includes a handful of obscure cover tunes, something she and the band would become known for on subsequent albums. In this case these include 'Wicked Dickie' which I believe was originally a reggae tune and that would become a staple of the band's later compilations and live performances. The band also delivers a brief and rather monotone rendition of 'When I was a Young Girl', a traditional tune that was covered more energetically by Feist around the same time.

And there's a show tune as well, another feature that would become something of a habit for Creager in both her Rasputina and solo albums that would follow. 'If Your Kisses Can't Hold the Man You Love (Then Your Tears Won't Bring Him Back)' comes form the 1930 London theatrical production 'Follow A Star', although in Creager's hands it sounds an awful lot like the girly retro-pop churned out by the likes of Tracey Ullman, Cyndi Lauper, Pearl Harbour and Karla DeVito in the early 80s. I should point out though that I liked a lot of that 80s girly retro-pop.

Elsewhere most of the industrial dirge of 2002's 'Cabin Fever' is gone, the band instead focusing on wyrd cello arrangements, theatrical posing and the occasional plugged-in accompaniment. The mood is decidedly more throwback than the last couple of records, the music aligning more closely with the corsets, Golden Age themes and old-school New York trappings in the liner notes and that the band projected in live shows during this period. Creager even goes to the trouble of wrapping a few tunes like 'When I Count...' in faux record scratches and tinny production to capture the feel of a time gone by.

Some of the lyrics are slightly more abstract than the band's prior work, demonstrating Creager was learning her craft and inserting some subtlety and nuance, or at least as much as she could while wearing a dirty old corset and American flag-themed bikini top. 'Secret Message' and 'Possum of the Grotto' come off quite well with this approach.

But elsewhere she can't resist reverting back to the lusty character sketches that make Creager's music endearing to so many of her drama-club and somewhat affected core fanbase. Creepy 'Saline the Salt Lake Queen', the self-destructive soul in 'Momma was an Opium Smoker' and the youthful widow in 'When I was a Young Girl' all inspire feelings of both sympathy and revulsion in Melora's hands.

Other than the band standards 'Wicked Dickie' and 'Opium Smoker' the remaining songs are all quite good but stop short of being magnificent. The closing 'Girls' School' is very creepy despite the pleasant twin cellos, and I have to wonder how much of its lyrics are autobiographical.

I like this album; indeed, there are very few Rasputina discs I don't like, but Melora Creager hadn't yet quite found her voice or creative stride. That would come though, as some of her best work was still ahead of her when this album released. Another three (out of five) star effort, but once again only recommended for those already familiar with the band and especially with their later and current work.

peace

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 Cabin Fever! by RASPUTINA album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Cabin Fever!
Rasputina Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars 'Cabin Fever' seems to have been something of a threshold album for Rasputina. If there were any doubt before that Melora Creager was in charge that is gone now along with former band mate and fellow cellist Julia Kent. Gone also is the band's third cellist Agnieszka Rybska, left to raise a family. The two have been replaced by Nana Bornant and K. (Kris) Cowperthwaite, leaving the band lineup as a cello trio.

The Columbia contract is also gone, this being the first of a handful of records released with the Instinct label imprint. Creager not only wrote all the music and lyrics, she also produced and mixed the record and provided some of the sleeve artwork. She also branches out musically by adding piano, dulcimer and drums (programmed) to her repertoire. As would become apparent with ensuing albums, Rasputina was (and is) a Creager operation.

One other change is the infusion of industrial and electronic sounds on several tracks, where the previous two studio albums were almost exclusively acoustic. The energy and variety from these electronic additions add to the overall sound, but also tend to overshadow the thing that makes Rasputina most appealing, the cellos.

The musical themes here are consistent with the band's earlier material, mostly tortured and pitiful tales of Americana in the form of made-up character sketches. "Remnants Of Percy Bass" tells the story of an aging and decrepit former movie star, reduced to dementia and mostly forgotten save for Creager herself. The theme is reminiscent of "Rose K." from their prior release 'How we Quit the Forest', and undoubtedly meant to be a sappy crowd favorite in live settings. It works.

"State Fair" is one of the drum and electric-infused tunes with staccato programmed drums, distorted cello strands and what sure sounds like (uncredited) electric guitar. Maybe not; I suppose an amped-up cello has some of the same range. This is another trademark Creager story of some sort of small-town carnie tramp with a crush on the 4H pig farmer's kid that seems to end with a permanent bath in an ocean riptide. Weird stuff, but that's what Rasputina fans have come to expect.

Most of the rest of the album ranges between these two extremes, with few of these songs ending up among the band's more memorable tunes but most of them being consistent and fairly solid among Creager's body of work. I guess the jerky pseudo-new wave "AntiqueHighHeelRedDollShoes" has endured in her live repertoire, so that is worth mentioning. One other exception is the mostly spoken-word "PJ + Vincent & Matthew + Bjork" which in addition to the name-dropping also ranks among the more forgettable filler Creager has ever included in a release.

In all I mostly like this album, but wouldn't rate it in my top-3 Rasputina favorites. I can appreciate Creager's desire to expand the band's sound with electronic and drum programming as well as a slightly more layered mix, but really this band's appeal is all about her voice and the haunting cello string sounds. Variety and experimentation is good, but not at the expense of the band's core appeal. I pick up Rasputina albums to see how far Melora can take cellos. This time I feel like she took the easy way out. Three stars, but just barely, and recommended but not nearly as much as the two Columbia recordings, 'Melora de Basilica' or 'Sister Kinderhook'. If you don't know this band, try all of those before getting to this one.

peace

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Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the artist addition.

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