A Radical Recital
Rasputina should be megastars based solely on audacity and persistence. Melora Creager had the audacity to form a rock and roll power trio with cellists instead of guitarists. Beginning as an all-girl cello trio, the band has gone through more personnel changes than Spinal Tap. Rasputina persisted, bouncing around from label to label while collaborating with folks as diverse as Marilyn Manson and Belle and Sebastian. While the band has trundled down a hard road, they’ve never given up their conviction that the cello really is a rock and roll instrument.
A Radical Recital is a career-spanning set recorded at Mr. Small’s Funhouse in Pittsburgh. Melora’s songs are often fractured history lessons. In Rasputina songs, you’ll encounter besieged villagers begging for papal permission to eat rats on Fridays, Howard Hughes pissing on the floor and Rose Kennedy staring blankly into space after her lobotomy. There are moments when Melora offers advice such as “If your kisses can’t hold him, your tears won’t bring him back.” On this live recording, we’re treated to brief monologues that offer oblique introductions to the songs. The best of these is the mini family drama that introduces “Momma Was an Opium Smoker.”
Rasputina regularly inject some prime covers into their live shows. A Radical Recital treats us to rousing renditions of “Barracuda” and “Rock and Roll.” There is the thrill of recognition when they break into the Heart classic and the fun of hearing Led Zeppelin re-imagined for cellos and drums. The covers are little treats that make an already fun show just a little more interesting.
If you haven’t heard of Rasputina before, A Radical Recital is a good introduction. You get great performances of songs spanning the band’s entire career. Long-time fans will be happy to finally have a decent live recording of the band. Either way, A Radical Recital is worth seeking out.