Rasputin: Disco and 80’s Soviet Kitch
I was searching youtube for “Valentina Terechkova” – a 1998 video by Kraftwork homage band “Komputer”. I found this apparent mashup by Komputer – working as “I Start Counting” – of the Rawhide theme and a song about Rasputin:
Rah! Rah. Rasputin, lover of the Russian Queen
That was a cat that really was gone.
Rah! Rah. Rasputin, Russia’s greatest love machine.
It was a shame how he carried on.
Thanks to my friend Jen, I found that the Rasputin passage was a European disco hit by Boney M. The group was particularly popular outside the West, and particularly in the Soviet Union, as the video for “Rasputin” attests:
I’d only seen the song once before, possibly on the same MTV2 broadcast from which this video was captured. I must have gone back in part for the music, which is very much like Kraftwerk’s Pocket Calculator. The soviet kitsch is the main attractor. I always considered the Soviet Union as a bizarre parallel world, accessible through the evening news and segments of 60 Minutes. I would amuse myself as a kid considering the states of mind of children much like myself, and considered us as tabula rasas, picking up antagonistic or just unrelated cultural cues. We’d assimilate these influences, and grow to consume utterly different, but recognizably congruent cultural products. Like disco. Boney M bears this out.
- Komputer is still together, here is the band’s official site: http://www.komputer.org.uk/
- Boney M has not gone away either, according to the Wikipedia page, but have no web page. There is a good entry on the band with some MP3s on WFMU’s blog.
- Flickr has lots of photos tagged from the old Soviet Union: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/sovietunion/clusters/
- Including this one: Aeroflot / Аэрофлот : “You’ll Enjoy It!”