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Prehistories and Afterlives: The Packaging and Re-packaging of Soviet Rock

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Abstract:

In Russia today Soviet rock music is a consumer product. The record industry, publishers, and the media place a particular emphasis on groups connected with the Leningrad Rock Club (founded 1981) and magnitizdat recordings such as those made in the studio of Andrei Tropillo. This article deals with the material culture of Soviet rock, through an exploration of the fate of recordings made by Boris Grebenshchikov and his group Akvarium during the 1970s and 1980s. It begins by examining these recordings in their original incarnation, looking in particular at the convergence of creativity, commercial value, and fragility in magnitizdat as a medium. During glasnost, recordings of rock were subjected to appropriation by other parties, notably in Joanna Stingray's compilation Red Wave (USA, 1986) and Melodiia's release on vinyl of Akvarium's White Album (1986), which contributed to a re-working of the music's status in society. In contemporary Russia magnitizdat is again being revisited, through compact disc reissues, discussion on the station Nashe Radio, and the publication of memoirs and other literature, including works by Aleksandr Kushnir and Il'ia Stogoff. The final section discusses the role of this form of nostalgia in securing Soviet rock's canon and in presenting Russian consumers with a view of the recent past.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03007760902985791

Publication date: July 1, 2009

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