Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rasputin's Stash

Rasputin’s Stash, a '70s soul/funk ensemble from the Windy City of Chicago, were the brainchildren of session musician Martin Dumas Jr.
Dumas formed the group, originally an eight-piece, out of fellow session regulars from the city during early 1970. They signed to the Cotillion label and released a self-titled album in 1971. For whatever reasons the band didn't stick together and gradually half of their members had left by the time they recorded their second album for Gemigo, a subsidiary of Curtis Mayfield's Curtom imprint. The remaining quartet of Dumas, Ernest Frank Donaldson, Bruce Butler, and Paul Coleman, shed the possessive of their band name and released another self-titled album, in 1974.
Gemigo eventually went under, and the group was shifted over to Curtom proper for a pair of singles released in the latter part of the decade: "Dance With Me" was released as r-Stash in 1977, and "Booty March" was released as Stash the following year.
In a distribution switch that saw Curtom move from Warner Bros. to RSO, the label's roster was gutted and Stash was one of the victims. After that, the group opted to quit, but not before they did plenty of shows in New York and their hometown, where they were most appreciated. Throughout the years, Rasputin's Stash and all its following incarnations endured as rare groove favourites. In 2000, the U.K.-based Sequel label issued 'The Devil Made Me Do It', a CD compilation of the group's Gemigo material, including several unreleased cuts that were intended for their third album.
A friend of mine came across Rasputin’s Stash first album at a car boot sale back in the late 80's before just before 'rare groove' was about to kick off. It was brought for about a pound (UK) and only really on the strength of the cover. For the cove r despite its simplicity just oozes funk with those Afros and the name just brings visions of coolness. The cover was also a gatefold as I seem to remember despite being only a single album and when opened revealed lyrics on one side and a posed picture of the band on someone's porch emphasizing their coolness. I myself did own a copy of this but I had to pay more than a pound unfortunately and it took a few years of searching, but it was well worth the effort as this is a great slice of funk / soul / psychedelia. Opening track 'Your Love Is Certified' starts of with a bit of a hillbilly twang on a countrified slide guitar before breaking into a get down on it, shoe shufflin', funky groove, with rapid keyboard stabs. For me this is where the band works best when blazing out the funk whether it's on a brisk paced workout like "What's on Your Mind", or on the more sedate, grinding, sweaty Parliafunkadelimentish "You Better Think" or " I Want to Say You're Welcome".
Softer moments are here, as with most albums of this type, but they don't really grab you with the same zest of the others. Songs like "I'd Like to Know You Better", a more soulful outing that dips into light Jazz at one point, but still retains a funky vibe and "Take Me On Back" which despite its fluidity and soulfulness is bit a MOR, or as someone once put it to me a few years ago 'its Radio 2 music', and syrupy.
The main reason for digging this album out though is for A-side closer "Mr Cool". This is without an A+ classic. I expect some real fun was had when writing these tongue in cheek lyrics for this song about a stereotypical pimp from the early '70s, with dark shades, white suit and matching white car. They've really gone overboard with his bragging tales of 'fooling around with the president's old lady' and beating Armstrong to the moon but the soundtrack that accompanies all this is superb. The pulsing organ, big horns, tight little guitar licks and that zigzag drums and wandering bass give the funkiest beat this side of James Brown.
Certainly an album to put more glide in your stride and dip in your hip.


A1 - Your Love Is Certified
A2 - I'd Like to Know You Better
A3 - What's on Your Mind
A4 - Take Me on Back
A5 - Mr. Cool

B1 - You Better Think
B2 - Freak's Prayer
B3 - Dookey Shoe
B4 - You Are My Flower
B5 - I Want to Say You're Welcome

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