Our humble attempt at English translation of Alexander Kushnir’s book 100 Магнитоальбомов Советского Рока (100 Tape Albums of Soviet Rock) (subtitled “1977-1991: 15 Years of Underground Sound Recording / 1977-1991 – 15 лет подпольной звукозаписи”). Thanks to everyone supportive of this venture.
First of all, what the hell is the магнитоальбом mentioned in the original title of the book? To put it simply – it’s a magnetic tape. In the Soviet Union rock music was a) largely forbidden for its (presumably) rebellious nature and hence had no way to be recorded officially and distributed on vinyl (Аквариум [Aquarium]’s Равноденствие being one of the most important exclusions) b) not known by the majority of population.
It was recorded mainly on four-tracks “studios” by musicians themselves or with a helping hand of sound-engineers of that time (such as Andrey Tropillo – 2002’s English interview with him is available). – Vladimir Toss / mirddin
Occasionally the fights would break out between hippies that didn’t get in and local louts. In that case cops monitoring the railway terminal would try to stop the action and contain the ugliness happening right under their noses. Since this wasn’t done very promptly, drunk concertgoers would leave through the second door upon hearing “Heads Up!” command. One had to flee while jumping across the railroad tracks. Thick hair of flower children were waving in the wind like flags upon towers. The chase didn’t happen that often, however: guardians of peace were still loyal and forgiving – much like in Znatoki TV-series.
Despite the slight unease, all the cult rock bands of Moscow were able to play Gorbunov club: Skomorohi (The Buffoons), Mashina Vremeni (Time Machine) as well as anglophone Rubinovaya Ataka (Ruby Attack) and Udachnoe Priobretenie (Real Bargain). Last two bands were particularly good. Rubinovaya Ataka led by Vladimir Ratzkevich played something akin to a combo of Hendrix and Doors. They were doing it so loud that club administration would pull the power switch at the third or fourth song. Udachnoe Priobretenie led by Lesha Belov promoted the savage rhythm and blues a-la Cream and Fleetwood Mac. In addition to all of their merits not only did they feel the spirit of the times, but they could also play their instruments.
“I remember that whenever the musicians of the 70s had guitars, pianos and magnetophon lying around they would absolutely try to record the albums – recalls Udachnoe Priobretenie bassist Vladimir Matetsky. We were growling, cutting the tape, made collages, gurgled something under the water – all under the influence of Beatles. There was no desire to record a single song. There was a desire to capture 40 minutes of music. Had a buddy who recorded more than 10 albums with original titles, 14-15 compositions each.”
Who heard them? Where are they now?