How Soviet bootleggers pressed banned records onto X-ray film

A documentary by The Vinyl Factory

The strange story of Soviet music on the bone.

In cold war Leningrad, in a culture where the recording industry was ruthlessly controlled by the state, music lovers discovered an extraordinary alternative means of reproduction: they repurposed used X-ray film as the base for records of forbidden songs.

Giving blood every week to earn enough money to buy a recording lathe, one bootlegger Rudy Fuchs cuts banned music onto such discarded X-rays to be sold on street corners by shady dealers.

It was ultimate act of punk resistance, a two-fingered salute to the repressive regime that gave a generation of young Soviets access to forbidden Western and Russian music, an act for which Rudy and his fellow bootleggers would pay a heavy price.

The culmination of four years of research and countless trips to Russia to track down Rudy, buyer and amateur dealer Nick Markovitch and Beatles’ fanatic Kolya Vasin, this short documentary gives an evocative and intimate insight into one of the most extraordinary, untold stories of twentieth century music.

Produced by The Vinyl Factory and Antique Beat, the film is part of a larger project which has seen Stephen Coates and Paul Heartfield publish a book and tour a series of live events, the next of which will take place at Rough Trade East in London on March 9. Head to X-Ray Audio for more information on the project.

Concept & interviews by Stephen Coates & Paul Heartfield
Filmed by Paul Heartfield
Written by Stephen Coates & Anton Spice
Producer by Anton Spice, Anoushka Seigler & Stephen Coates
Edited by Pawel Ptak
Archive footage courtesy of Russian State Archives of Film and Photo Documents

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