Beth and I were considering going to see Rasputina last week, but we didn’t. That did, however, remind me that I hadn’t said anything about their two latest albums.They’re both mostly covers.
The Feel-Good Hits of 1817 – It’s part of Melora Creager’s brand to pretend her music was released in the eighteenth century, so the title of this 2017 release fits that trend. I believe this was originally just going to be a vinyl release, but there’s now a CD version as well. Songs covered are largely of the pop variety that had stylistic similarities to Rasputina anyway. There are songs originally by David Bowie, the Who, and Lana Del Rey, as well as an interesting take on “Over by the Frankenstein Place” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which makes good use of mutli-tracked vocals for harmony. Then there’s “Sweet Love, No More Will I Abuse Thee,” a madrigal by Elizabethan organist and composer Thomas Weelkes. “A Bit Longer” is an instrumental, while “Kingdom of Ovid” and “Spirit of Wallis Simpson” are more of Melora’s absurd spoken-word takes on historical topics, the former referencing many of the stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, while the latter os about the Nazi sympathizer wife of Edward VIII possessing a dog and spreading conspiracy theories.
None But the Lonely Heart – The title track is a poem by Goethe set to music by Tchaikovsky. It was originally written in German, but Tchaikovsky used a Russian translation, and Melora sings the English lyrics. “Redondo Beach” is a Patti Smith cover. I don’t know much about her music, but I listened to the original, and Melora’s vocals are actually fairly similar to hers, although Rasputina’s take is noisier. Other covers include the Smiths’ “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore,” Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday,” and a hymn by Welsh composer Thomas John Williams. There’s a song about Edvard Grieg played only on piano, with no cello that I can hear. And “One Tin Soldier” is a Canadian protest song that Melora sings a cappella. “Yonder the Yinder” is a narration of a Carl Sandburg story set in the Rootabaga Country, but not in the original two collections. It’s apparently from Potato Face, centered around the recurring character of the Potato Face Blind Man, and with a more adult tone. And it doesn’t look to be available anywhere except from used book dealers.