Soviet-Era Banned Western Music X-Ray Records

In Soviet Russia music from those Capitalist pigs in the West was strictly forbidden, and Russian black markets were full of forbidden items from the West such as jeans, Marlboro cigarettes, and VHS tapes of American movies, aka Captialist propaganda.

Now that the Iron Curtain has fallen (sort of) Russians are allowed to listen to anything they want, but how did the oppressed music loving masses of the past listen to their favorite Western artists like Elvis Presley and Duke Ellington?

(Image Via Jozsef Hajdu)

They created their own copies of these albums using X-rays, of course! This delightfully artistic practice was an example of crafting for music lovers:

They would cut the X-ray into a crude circle with manicure scissors and use a cigarette to burn a hole," says author Anya von Bremzen. "You’d have Elvis on the lungs, Duke Ellington on Aunt Masha’s brain scan — forbidden Western music captured on the interiors of Soviet citizens."

EDIT- Thanks to commenter Alexander Bougakov for this info on the process:

"X-rays have a thick soft coating - bootleg recorders were using preheated sewing needles attached to speakers. 3V DC electricity source kept the needle warm so it penetrated the coating, and the speaker with discarded membrane moved the needle up and down, duplicating the track. The only additional detail they needed was a very long bolt that moved the needle from rear to the center of the plate."  -Thanks again Alexander!

-Via Juxtapoz


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They weren't "pressed". X-rays have a thick soft coating - bootleg recorders were using preheated sewing needles attached to speakers. 3V DC electricity source kept the needle warm so it penetrated the coating, and the speaker with discarded membrane moved the needle up and down, duplicating the track. The only additional detail they needed was a very long bolt that moved the needle from rear to the center of the plate.
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Here's all I could find about it, and as the saying goes don't shoot the messenger, I'm just relaying something I read on another site to you, I truly have no way of knowing how much is true and how much is bull:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribs_%28recordings%29

http://kk.org/streetuse/2006/08/jazz-on-bones-xray-sound-recor-1/

the important bits:

But enterprising young people with technical skills learned to duplicate records with a converted phonograph that would “press” a record using a very unusual material for the purpose; discarded x-ray plates. This material was both plentiful and cheap, and millions of duplications of Western and Soviet groups were made and distributed by an underground roentgenizdat, or x-ray press, which is akin to the samizdat that was the notorious tradition of self-publication among banned writers in the USSR. According to rock historian Troitsky, the one-sided x-ray disks costed about one to one and a half rubles each on the black market, and lasted only a few months, as opposed to around five rubles for a two-sided vinyl disk.
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yeah, that part is a bit hard to believe. I don't know how they could have stored music on x-rays on a kitchen-table basis. The article doesn't seem to say anything about the process, but I'd be interested to know how it was accomplished. There's a Japanese company that made a wonderful plastic cup phonograph that cut a groove using a needle, but I'd think that such audio-cutting into an X-ray sheet would be really poor quality, since they had access to reel-to-reel tape.
http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/gadgetlab/edicup-tm.jpg
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Not true. Good art project but x-rays were not used to press music. The article says they cut crude holes with manicure scissors, and burned the center holes with cigarettes .... but implies that they had the equipment to press into Mylar. Mmmm ... I smell bull.
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