Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rah, Rah, Rasputin!

When was the last time you went on a Nightflight to Venus? For me it had been awhile.

When I was about 4, my Dad returned from a business trip to Hong Kong bearing gifts. Cutie embroidered silk robes, China dolls, and a Boney M tape, Nightflight to Venus. Hot, very hot. Quite disco, occasionally a little Carribbean, a little of this-and-that thrown in, and that's Boney M. Popular in Europe in the late 70's, they never made it too big in the US, but there was a small cult following. The Younces were part of it. That's right, they were with us on those 2-week road trips in the van. They were put on after dinner for us to dance our blood-sugar-energy-rush off before bed. This album was part of our youth in the same way Mom's Chicken-and-Noodles and the smell of ripe grapes on the vine were. We can probably even attribute my first exposure to, and therefore the start of the love of, disco to this tape.

In high school, when I started discovering my own taste for modern alternative, classic folk and disco music, I returned to Boney M. Dug the tape out and put it in my prized collection. I mentioned it to friends and got blank looks in return. Only one other girl had even heard of them, and she grew up to a different album that meant nothing to me.

So it was like a warm homecoming when my sister Maren gave me the CD for my birthday this year. We put it on immediately and both families - all six kids and four adults - started to dance and laugh and dance some more to the rockin' beats. Hazel pointed to the girl in the silver cap, much as I had at her age, and said, "She must be the queen!"

So I've been playing Boney M as my make-dinner music. The girls have latched on to it, and one song in particular: Rasputin. You know the story. Or maybe you don't. No reason you should. I'm pretty sure the only Russian history I've ever learned came from this song, which is not impressive. Here's the wiki link if you really want to know. ("Oh, those Russians...")

Anyway, the song is crazy fun. Put traditional Russian-sounding tunes to a disco beat, and the story of a kind of madman/charlatan/loverboy/politician into 70's slang, and you have really got something special. In the song, his name is pronounced, "Rass-pyoo-teen", so the girls call it "Rescue Team." The sex and intrigue references are over their heads, but Hazel picks up enough to know it is about a person, so he must be a superhero. And in one line he is referred to as a "cat" so Ginger thinks Rescue Team>Diego>Baby Jaguar>cat, so it all makes sense! They ask for it (on repeat, naturally) every evening and spend 15, 20, sometimes close to an hour marching/dancing around the coffee table to the music. Ginger's favorite part is the chorus:

Rah, Rah, Rasputin, lover up the Russian queen
There was a cat who really was gone
Rah, Rah, Rasputin, Russia's greatest love machine
It was a shame how he carried on

I watch them and think back 30 years to me and my sisters doing the EXACT same dancing to the EXACT same song. Some things are really worth passing on. Boney M has just made it one more generation. Rah, rah!


Geary said...

I first heard the tape when it was being played at an outdoor market, set up in a parking-lot-by-day location. We had heard of the evening markets and decided to go see what the fuss was all about. I was buying a bowl of soup at the time: $1HK, about 20 cents US. A wooden bowl -- swish, into a barrel of lukewarm water and handed to me -- followed by a pair of bamboo chopsticks -- swish, into a barrel of lukewarm water and handed to me -- filled with chicken broth. Then there was an array of ingredients that could be added to augment the soup: Cabbage, noodles, sausage, and lots of things I didn't recognize. Since I spoke no Chinese, I just pointed at them, one at a time, and a dollop of each was added to my bowl. Then I went to the stall that was playing the Boney M. tqape, pointed at the speakers, and then pointed at the table of tapes. The proprietor literally jumped to pick the tape out of the huge array he had on the table. I think it cost me $5HK = $1 US. One of my best buys ever!I

Carol Younce said...

my side of the story is that you never can know what will stick with your kids and be the MOST important thing from their childhood. Glad this is all going on for one more round. My fave is Mary's Boy Child and second is A Boat on the River.

tona said...

TOTALLY Rah Rah!! I love that album. I love their bizarre world music treatment of the Israeli/reggae Psalm song, what's that one called? "By the Rivers of Babylon?"

Hoo-boy. Glad it's still in print!!

The LDSMommy said...

I am intrigued...I've done some looking on Zune marketplace - which lists Boney M. albums but doesn't have them available for download - and they show that Boney M. had TONS of albums, including Christmas/ Holiday albums! I'm going to listen to samples from Amazon, and probably download from there.
Heidi P.

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