The “Bone Records” from USSR


Bone Records or Roentgenizdat, music recorded on an unlikely support: the x-ray of the hips of your Aunt Alice!

We are in the 50s, Russia is still called USSR and the vinyl is extremely rare due to its cost of production. The audio tapes still do not exist and the young people of Eastern Europe and USSR need music to escape the everyday, the political tensions that divide the countries.

les bone records de l'urss

The censorship of the pop culture

In the years following World War II, Stalin tries to get rid of the influence of the American culture on the Soviet Union. He initially banished Jazz then Rock’n’roll, calling these kinds of music a “threat to society”, promoting animal instincts, corrupting the masses and an incitement to rebellion. Dealing first with some artists such as John Coltrane and Bill Haley, then a few years later with The Beatles, these pop culture’s icons from Western Europe and the United States will be completely censored in the Soviet Bloc depriving the youth of their way out.

The emergence of a new support for the music: The Bone Records

vinyl record made out from x-ray

The demand for pop music is growing in the USSR. Young engineering students realized by modifying an old phonograph that it was possible to duplicate old vinyl records on x-rays. The modified machines could then use the tips of the scissors to reproduce the grooves and record the music on the radiographies. Was left to be done, a hole in the center with a cigarette and you would have a cheap record with a poor sound quality (a lesser evil regarding the conditions of the time). The engineers were able to get for next to nothing the used x-rays from hospitals. The advantage of this technique is that the grooves were almost undetectable, perfect, in times of censorship and repression, to hide the records of a new kind.

Called “rock on bones” or “rock on ribs”, these vinyl records became a symbol of the rebellion and the Soviet resistance. Discovered in 1958 by the Soviet government, the Bone Records and the phonographs used to read them became illegal.

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