Rasputin Stash

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (19711-74)

- Bruce Butler -- vocals, bass

- Paul Coleman -- vocals, keyboards

- Earnest Frank Donaldson -- drums, percussion

- Martin Dumas Jr. -- vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar

- Wardell Peel -- horns

- Norval Taylor -- percussion

- James Whitfield -- reeds

- Vincent Willis - vocals, keyboards


  line up 2 (1974)

- Bruce Butler -- vocals, bass

- Paul Coleman -- vocals, keyboards

- Earnest Frank Donaldson -- drums, percussion

- Martin Dumas Jr. -- vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar


  supporting musicians: (1974)

- Wardell Peel -- trumpet

- James Whitfield -- sax

- Mary Diane Williams -- backing vocals




- Attitude, Belief and Determination (Martin Dumas Jr.)

- Chicago Jazz Ensemble (Frank Donaldson)

- Crystal Wind (Paul Coleman)

- R-Stash

- Ramsey Lewis Quartet (Frank Donaldson)

- Stash





Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Rasputin's Stash

Company: Cotillion

Catalog: SD 9046

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3162

Price: $50.00


You have to wonder why Chicago's Rasputin's Stash didn't make it into the major leagues.  The group certainly had the talent pool to compete with top-40 groups.  In fact, I'd argue they were even more capable than a lot of one dimensional early-'70s outfits enjoying national success.


Can't say I know a great deal about the band's history.  Having made a name for himself as a Chicago based sessions player, Martin Dumas Jr appears to have been the band's front man and one of thir creative mainstays.  Dumas apparently recruited the rest of the band from the ranks of fellow sessions players.  By the time they were signed to Atlantic's Cotillion imprint, the line-up featured Dumas on vocals and guitar, bassist Bruce Butler, Paul Coleman on vocals and keyboards, drummer Earnest Frank Donaldson, Wardell Peel on horns, percussionist Norval Taylor , James Whitfield on reeds, and keyboardist Vincent Willis.


Recorded at Miami's Criteria Studios with brothers Albert and Ron Albert producing, 1971's "Rasputin's Stash" showcased an engaging, if occasionally ill-focused mixture of soul, funk, and dance material.  Having listened to the album dozens of times, it's hard to aptly categorize it - I hear diverse influences including Norman Whitfield flavored psych-soul, George Clinton and Funkadelic funk moves,  Sly and the Family Stone, Gamble and Huff social commentary, dollops of Southern soul, and maybe even a little bit of Hendrix (courtesy of Dumas occasional fuzz guitar work). Lots of first rate performances, but my top three would all be funk tunes - the opener 'Your Love Is Certified', the hysterical pimp-worshipping 'Mr. Cool', and 'Dookey Shoe'.   It certainly didn't make for the most original album I've ever heard, but with the exception of the MOR-ish ballad 'You Are My Flower ', it made for an album that was fun through and through.


"Rasputin's Stahs" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Your Love Is Certified   (Vincent Willis) - 2:08   rating: **** stars

Vincent Willis didn't have the strongest voice you've ever heard, but he sounded suitably funky on this Southern-flavored funk number.  Kicked along by jittery Hammond B-3, killer horns and that catchy title track refrain you had to wonder why the US Postal Service didn't tap this one for some sort of promotional campaign.  Inexplicably the track was tapped as a promo-single, but seemingly never saw a stock release:

- 1971's 'Your Love Is Certified' b/w 'Your Love Is Certified" (Cotillion catalog number 45-44132)

2.)  I'd Like To Know You Better  (Paul Coleman) - 3:45   rating: *** stars

The shifty from funk to silky smooth, cocktail jazzy ballad was a bit disconcerting, but Dumas' lead vocal reminded me a bit of something Phillip Bailey might have recorded with Earth, Wind & Fire.

3.) What's On Your Mind   (Martin Dumas Jr.) - 2:45   rating: *** stars

Cheesy '70s synthesizer, Hammond B-3, funky Kool & the Gang-ish horns ...  it doesn't get much better which probably explains why it was tapped as the single:

- 1971's 'What's On Your Mind' b/w 'Your Love Is Certified' (Cotillion catalog number 45-44132)

4.) Take Me On Back      (Vincent Willis) - 3:45   rating: **** stars

Totally unexpected, over-sweet ballad  that should appeal to anyone with a love of Stevie Wonder (there's even a harmonica solo at the start of the song) ...  After I got over the initial shock, I quite enjoyed this one.

5.) Mr. Cool   (Vincent Willis - Martin Dumas Jr.) - 3:28   rating: **** stars

The sad thing is if people know this song, it's probably a result of Jim Jones sampling a ten second section of the song for 'We Fly High'.  Shame since 'Mr. Cool' is simply a killer, proto-rap performance that every music fan should hear.  Yeah, the horns were a bit distracting, but Paul Coleman's hypnotic organ, Martin Dumas' fuzz guitar, and the lyrics were simply hysterical ("I drive a long white pig").  The track was also released as a promo single:

1971's 'Mr. Cool' b/w 'Mr. Cool' (Cotillion catalog number 45-44`37)


(side 2)
1.)You Better Think   (Martin Dumas Jr.) - 5:39
   rating: **** stars

The opening sounded like a cross between a bad acid trip, a Norman Whitfield produced Temptations track (freak-out trumpet), and something off a blaxploitation soundtrack.  When the melody actually kicked in the lyrics showed off a surprisingly impressive set of social commentary lyrics. I suspect Marvin Gaye and Gamble and Huff would have approved.   Great track to listen to with quality headphones.

2.) Freaks Prayer  (Martin Dumas Jr.) - 2:45   rating: **** stars

Opening up with some beautiful Dumas acoustic guitar, tasteful percussion, and thought provoking lyrics, 'Freaks Prayer'  was another surprise.  

3.) Prelude - 0:17   rating: ** stars

Anonymous percussion break leading to 'Dookie Shoe' ...

4.) Dookey Shoe  (Paul Coleman) - 3:20   rating: **** stars

Slinky slice of funk which is guaranteed to make you smile.    Always wondered what the titled referred to.  I could speculate, but you'd come up with your own interpretation.

4.) You Are My Flower   (Vincent Willis) - 4:40   rating: ** stars

Pretty, but ultimately anonymous and MOR-ish ballad.  Actually would have made an okay single.

5.) I Want To Say You're Welcome   (Vincent Willis - Martin Dumas Jr.) - 2:12   rating: *** stars

Hum, more than a touch of Sly and the Family Stone, or Graham Central Station on this funk workout.

6.) Epilogue - 1:30   rating: ** stars

Maybe because they needed slightly more running time, 'Epilogue' closed the album out with a refrain of the introductory section of 'You Better Think'.  




Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Devil Made Me Do It

Company: Gemigo

Catalog: GMS 1000

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: sealed copy

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2906

Price: $80.00


Dropped by Atlantic's Cotillion imprint, 1974's "Devil Made Me Do It' found the band signed by Curtis Mayfield's Gemigo label.   In addition to getting the band name right (the debut album on Cotillion misprinted the name as Rasputin's Stash - there shouldn't have been a apostrophe), the sophomore set found the band having downsized from an eight piece to a quartet consisting of bassist Bruce Butler, keyboardist  Paul Coleman, drummer Earnest Frank Donaldson, and guitarist Martin Dumas Jr.


Co-produced by Joseph Scott and the band, "Devil Made Me Do It" has always struck me as being a transitional album.  By that I mean an album that bridged the gap between early-'70s soul vocal groups (The Chi-Lites, The Impressions) and more urbane, mid-'70s self-contained funk outfits like The Kay-Gees, Kool and the Gang and The Ohio Players.  To my ears these guys were unique in their ability to cover the entire musical spectrum.   Sweet, harmony-rich ballads like 'Ooh Baby', 'I See Your Face' and 'You're So Specia' easily competed with better known soul vocal groups.  At the other end of the spectrum, the title track and 'Hit It ad Pass It' were downright funky.


"Devil made Me Do It" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Ooh Baby - 3:00   rating: **** stars

Usually spoken word vamps made me lift the needle and go to the next track.  'Ooh Baby' was one of the rare exception.  Not that I liked the Barry White-ish vamp, but it was brief and worth the wait for the rest of this slinky ballad to kick in.

2.) I See Your Face - 4:19   rating: *** stars

Adult contemporary soul a decade before it permeated every elevator and dental office in America ...  I'll give it an extra star for the sweet melody and the gorgeous harmonies.

3.) The Devil Made Me Do It  - 4:42  rating: **** stars

Kicked along by Butler's smooth bass and Coleman's piano, 'The Devil Made Me Doi It'  featured a vibe that was funky, slightly stoned, but also sported a  nifty jazzy vibe ...

4.) Hit It and Pass It  - 5:34  rating: **** stars

Perhaps not the most subtle lyric you've ever heard, but it had a nice James Brown-esque feel.  The end of song warning was hysterical.


(side 2)
1.) I Can Feel Your Jones
  -  4:11   rating: *** stars

Yeah it opened up with another vamp, but at least this time around it was modestly funny ...   Musically 'I Can Feel Your Jones' offered up a breezy, dance ready melody and more of their wonderfully blended voices.    

2.) You're So Special - 4:00    rating: *** stars

Hum, kind of an Earth, Wind & Fire vibe on this smooth ballad.  

3.) Middle Man - 2:48    rating: **** stars

Another example of the band at their best - namely mixing Sly Stone-styled funk with a jazzy edge.  Unlike anything else out there and really good.   Lick it baby ...

4.) You've Opened My Mind - 2:58    rating: **** stars

The opening orchestration gave 'You've Opened My Mind' a mild Isaac Hayes vibe and then the song shifted into a weird mix of big love ballad and Meters-styled funk.  Yeah, it was kind of schizoid, but interesting.  Donaldson's drumming on this one was amazing.

5.) Givin' Way To Love - 3:11


A combination of personnel and business factors effectively crushed the band.  Guitarist Dumas died, as did several members of the band's management team.  


The Waxing Poetic website did an in-depth interview with Coleman: http://www.waxpoetics.com/blog/features/articles/rasputin-stash-founder-talks-reissue-cult-classic-album/