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Banned in the USSR: how forbidden music made its way to Soviet streets on X-rays

For two decades following the Second World War, music in the Soviet Union was tightly restricted by the Communist Party. Bans on Western genres such as boogie-woogie, jazz and, later, rock ’n’ roll, as well as other styles deemed threatening to the political order, extended not only to public radio waves, but to private listening too. This prohibition, and the subsequent demand it created, gave rise to a black market of banned records carved into used X-ray film – contraband items colloquially known as ‘ribs’ and ‘bone music’ that would later become emblems of rock ’n’ roll rebellion. This short documentary from the UK independent music and arts enterprise the Vinyl Factory traces the grooves of X-ray records, using primary sources to retell how these crackling, bendable bootlegs came to be sold on Soviet streets thanks to their risk-taking, music-loving makers and dealers.

Video by The Vinyl Factory

Concept: Paul Heartfield

Producers: Anton Spice, Anoushka Seigler, Stephen Coates

27 November 2019

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